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Do you feel guilty when you relax? All your tasks are done for the day and you finally grab some popcorn and Netflix.

But there’s a nagging feeling that something needs to be done. “Can I possibly be this free?” “Have I done enough today?” “Why do I feel guilty when I relax?”

Restlessness ensues and you opt for checking your work emails or anything that makes you feel semi-productive while watching Netflix.

The guilt you feel when you relax is a symptom of anxiety, which fuels even more anxiety leading to an endless cycle of productivity guilt.

The simple way to stop this endless cycle feeling is to know the difference between rest and procrastination.

How Do I Stop Feeling Guilty When I Relax

Yes guilt anxiety a.ka guilt complex is a thing. Here are 3 ways to not feel guilty when you relax.

Know the difference between rest and procrastination

One is self sabotage and the other is required by your body to feel it’s best.

The importance of doing less

Productivity guilt can drive us to want to work harder, juggling to finish the last 3 things on our to do list.

However, this is counter-productive. In the attempt to reach goals and accomplishments with the lack of adequate rest, there is a possibility of one stretching themselves too thin and making unclear decisions.

To ease your work guilt anxiety, it might be helpful to know that a lack of rest ultimately results in a lack of focus, undefined priorities and meaningless busy work.

Studies have shown that the human brain can only focus on one task for 90 minutes at a time before needing a 15 minute break.

According to this article, the brain operates optimally when it toggles between focus and unfocused, allowing you to develop resilience, enhance creativity, and make better decisions too.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together”

van gogh

Work smart not hard

The toxicity of hustle culture will have you believing that you need to work hard or that success is hard to come by, you may even start to attach your self worth to the results you get from work.

Figure out when you are most productive to do your best work, for most people it is usually in the AM. Just think, if you can get your most important tasks done in the morning you won’t have to suffer from feeling guilt for not being productive.

Focus on 3 main priorities and carry them out accordingly.

Here’s an action priority graph that will help you choose your top priorities. You want to aim for high impact low effort tasks to rid yourself of work guilt anxiety and overly high expectations.

Work smart not hard

How To Actually Rest

How can we truly feel rested? We can take the weekend off and still feel drained coming into work on Monday. The goal is to redefine rest and our self care rituals, identify your energy givers and energy drainers.

The 7 types of rest

The book called Sacred rest by Dr Saundra Dalton further explains the 7 types of rest. It explains how we can slow down, make rest intentional to feel rejuvenated.

1. Physical Rest

Any activity that releases stress, tension and rejuvenates the body.

Passive physical rest – deep sleep, giving yourself time to fall asleep and enough time to be in sleep. An average sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes. Ideally, the average person requires 4 -5 cycles to feel well rested (deep sleep occurs in the 3rd or 4th cycle)

Active physical rest – yoga, daily stretches, hypnotherapy session , guided meditation 

2. Social Rest

Being around people who don’t require anything from you. This involves having a great time with others in a social situation. These are relationships that pour into your cup, these people give just as much as they take.

3. Mental Rest

It means taking a break from the constant chatter in your brain to stop forcing our brains to be productive. The same way our body needs a break, our brain needs a break from over-processing and thinking.

Limiting the amount of content you are consuming whether its limiting screen time, clearing the mind from excessive thoughts and overstimulation with meditation. There is an Italian concept known as the joy of doing nothing, simply allow yourself to be bored by literally doing nothing.

Spiritual Rest- 7 types of Rest

4. Spiritual Rest

Connecting to something bigger than yourself whether through journaling, going to church, joining a spiritual retreat, speaking to God in a personal prayer, exploring nature, anything that makes you feel connected or grounded to a higher being.

5. Emotional Rest

Allow your emotions to flow. Be authentic about go how you really feel. This is particularly important for people pleasers who would rather put on a fake smile or say things to make others happy and comfortable. Give people a chance to know how you are feeling – your therapist, coach or a friend. 

Creative Rest - 7 types of Rest

6. Creative Rest

The act of creating without having to monetise. You simply engage in creative activities with the intention to have fun. It could be a painting, going to the museum, taking a dance class, learning to play the piano, or  gardening 

7. Sensory Rest

A bit similar to the mental rest but it’s geared towards giving your senses a break. One major way to achieve overall sensory deprivation will be to perform float therapy. Figure out which of your senses need a break and focus on it. 

Sight – avoid bright lights. Use an eye mask.

Sound – use soothing music or use noise cancelling headphones. Or just sit in silence.

Taste – treat yourself to a flavour bursting delicacy and be mindful of the taste and flavours while eating. 

Touch – get a massage. Focus on your body while you bathe by turning of the lights and tending to each body part with love and attention 

Smell – use your favourite fragrance in your room, light a scented candle or go outside in nature to indulge in Mother Nature smells 

What type of rest do you need this weekend? Let me know in the comments!

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