You know the feeling: you’ve been working on a project for days, and there’s still so much to do. You finally get around to sitting down and taking a breath, but suddenly, a guilty conscience overtakes you. You feel like you should be doing something productive -and taking even ten minutes for yourself is just wrong.
We’ve Been Conditioned to Believe That We’re Productive When We’re Busy
I’m not sure where or when it started, but we decided that being busy was a good thing at some point. That it means we’re successful or that we’re doing something useful with our time. There are so many things wrong with this thinking; I’ll go through them in order.
Being busy has become synonymous with being productive. But productivity isn’t necessarily synonymous with busyness. Sometimes the opposite is true: the most productive people are those who’ve nothing else to do but work on their projects.
Our Brain Never Stops Working
Even when we relax, our brain keeps working – and that’s a good thing!
Our brain is constantly trying to help us make decisions and solve problems. When we relax, our brain isn’t doing anything useful, so it’s logical to feel guilty about it. But in truth, our brain is doing its job: ensuring we keep working without taking breaks.
When You Relax, Your Brain Has Nothing Interesting to Do
So it looks for something else to focus on. Suppose it doesn’t find anything useful or necessary. In that case, it’ll try to find something that might be important but isn’t so urgent or important that you should be giving it your attention right now (e.g., your phone buzzing with notifications from emails and social media). This can make you feel guilty because your brain tells you that relaxing is terrible.
But there’s another way to look at it: If your brain worked all the time without breaks or rest, it would become just as tired and stressed as any other part of your body that gets tired from too much work.
Taking Regular Breaks Can Help You Not Feel Guilty About Relaxing
When we’ve so much to do, we easily feel guilty when we relax. We feel like we should be doing something more productive or valuable. But taking time out to rest, recharge and rejuvenate is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your work!
Stress Builds Up Over Time
If you don’t break it regularly, you’ll get into a constant state of low stress that affects everything from your energy level to your ability to perform your best. Giving yourself a break to relax will help you recover mentally and emotionally, so you can get back to work with renewed energy and focus.
When you relax, it doesn’t mean you take time off from work – you need both relaxation and productivity if you want to succeed at work and in life.
Control Your Guilt-Free Time
When you’re working a lot, sometimes it’s hard to remember to take time for yourself. And that’s okay – you’re doing great! But if you feel guilty about relaxing, you must start controlling your guilt-free time.
Schedule Guilt-Free Time First
Don’t wait for it to come up – if you want it, schedule it! If your brain is used to the idea that relaxing means I’m not working, it may take some time to get used to relaxing without feeling like it’s distracting from the work that needs to be done. So if you need help changing your brain’s expectations of what counts as relaxation, try making a plan and sticking to it.
Try Not to Compare Yourself to Other People
Sometimes we feel guilty because we think we should do more than others – and sometimes that’s true! But sometimes we also feel guilty because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we’re. However, I know from experience that many people act like they do a lot, but you don’t always see it in their results.
Remember, everyone has their definition of success – and everyone is different! You need to know what works best for you, and if taking breaks helps your mind function better, why should you feel guilty?
Take a Little Break From Your Phone and Computer Every Day
We all know that feeling. You’re at home and just want to sit back and relax. You’ve worked hard all day and now want to take time for yourself. But then your phone rings, the doorbell rings, or the computer checks in with an email notification – and suddenly you’re pulled back into the working world.
You’re not alone in this. Many people feel guilty about taking time off from their stressful lives because they think they shouldn’t relax when there’s still so much to do. They think they should be working harder instead of having time for themselves.
Turn Off Your Notifications When You Don’t Need Them
Avoid keeping your phone in the rooms where you’re supposed to relax. For example, bedroom or living room.
Sometimes We Just Need a Break
We’ve all been there: you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown and just want to be alone, but you can’t find the time.
You want to turn off your phone and turn off the notifications. You want to get up and go for a walk or take a bath. You want to listen to music and switch off for an hour or two, but there are too many other things tugging at you: work deadlines, commitments to loved ones, social obligations… It feels like there’s no way out.
If it’s all getting too much for you, take time out from technology and other people at least once a week, where you can do something fun or relaxing – even if it’s just 20 minutes. It’s not about neglecting your duties; it’s about taking care of yourself, so you stay strong when the duties come back to you! Here are some ideas on how you can do that:
- Take a nap (if you can): There’s nothing wrong with getting a little rest. A good rest doesn’t mean laziness. It’s good to clear your head and get away from the hustle and bustle.
- Read: Whether you’re reading a book or a blog post, anything that’s nothing to do with work is a way to unwind from work issues.
- Go to a spa: A sauna, hot tub, and massage are great for relieving anxiety and having some relaxation time, and you don’t have to wait for your vacation days; you can do it after a day of hard work or on the weekends. Everyone deserves some free time now and then.
- Participate in a weekly activity (art class, sports, mindfulness, and meditation): An activity with a group or personal trainer will distract you and give your mind a rest from the hard work you’re doing. Having an activity outside work like meditation or sports can also help you sleep better at night and reduce your stress level.
Go to the Fresh Air Every Day
We all have those days when we just can’t get anything done. You know the feeling: you wake up with a plan for the day, but you haven’t even gotten some fresh air by lunch.
It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life – but it’s also important to remember that we need time to relax and recharge our batteries.
Here are some tips on how you can get some fresh air every day:
- Get outside first thing in the morning! This is one of my favorite things to do because it refreshes me after being at work all day.
- Try going for a walk or run with friends or family members! This is better than going alone because talking about your day will help you clear your head before you go into meetings or interviews later (just make sure you don’t talk about things that are too personal).
- Take some time off from work now and then! You can do this by reading a book outside or just sitting down with a cup of coffee and enjoying nature for a while before you go into the office.
Remember to Recharge Your Batteries
It’s important to give yourself regular downtime to recharge your batteries and feel motivated again.
Recharging the batteries is good for our productivity, reduces our stress level, and is also suitable for our mental health.
If you’re a workaholic, it’s often hard to remember that you need breaks from the daily grind. But if you don’t allow yourself time to relax and recharge, you’ll get burnout and make more mistakes or go on sick leave.
Many people find it hard to find time for downtime in their busy schedules. But taking that time can be one of the most important things you do for yourself and your career, too!