Despite our best efforts to relax, there are roadblocks that get in the way. If relaxation hasn’t been a high value for you in the past, it makes sense that your mind resists the idea of relaxing on a regular basis. Likely because you hold more value for doing rather than being. Lack of scheduling down time aside, there are a range of reasons why we just can’t seem to relax, even when we want to. Here are some roadblocks you may be experiencing, and what to do about them.

Roadblock: Feeling guilty for taking time to relax- If you place a high emphasis on productivity in relation to your self-worth, it may feel like your identity is tied to your productivity. You are more than what you do for a living or what you accomplish in a day.

What to do about it- Learn to value yourself for who you are, not what you do. Find ways to enjoy your off-duty and down time knowing it contributes to your self-worth equally.  

Roadblock: Playing the comparison game- If your colleagues don’t rest, why should you? If your spouse can work on three hours of sleep a night, why can’t you? Comparing your stamina to someone else keeps you from taking a rest and enjoying a relaxing moment when it’s the best thing for you.

What to do about it- Get honest with yourself about what your needs are. Realize that the people you compare yourself to likely are stretched too thin and need some down time too even though it may not seem that way. Stop competing with others for who can do the most with the least amount of relaxation.

Roadblock: Feeling more productive under pressure- Plenty of people believe they are more efficient and work better when they are under pressure. Usually, that’s thanks to the principle that work expands or contracts to the time you give it. If you give yourself ten days, ten hours, or ten minutes to get something done, you’ll likely meet the deadline. Avoiding a break because you think you’ll be more productive can cause you to become irritable, anxious, and lose your edge.

What to do about it- Start taking short breaks here and there. Review your productivity and notice if you find yourself feeling more creative, more focused, and able to work with more ease. Learn to see life as a balance between on and off-duty which can help your relationships be stronger, your work product better, and your mood stable.

No matter what the roadblock is, there is always something you can do about it. Relaxation isn’t something that would be nice to experience more of. It’s a necessity that will help you live a longer and healthier life.