How to Stop Feeling Guilty for Relaxing


Resting is an essential part of leading a healthy, balanced life. A study on burnout published by World Psychiatry suggested that taking breaks and relaxing can be great ways to prevent burnout. However, sometimes, taking time to relax can make you feel guilty for being “unproductive.” Combating these feelings will help you get the rest you need to recharge stress-free. 

Relaxing Is Productive 

Often in society, taking time off can, unfortunately, be seen as a sign of laziness to some. To avoid being seen as unmotivated at work or school, you might work long hours, study without breaks, or commit yourself excessively to projects. 

While doing this might help you feel ultra-productive and give you a sense of self-worth, working too hard without breaks can lead to burnout. One study on depression and burnout published by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care found that burnout causes exhaustion, extreme stress, a lack of focus, and even physical pain. In the end, being too productive without rest can cause you to be unproductive. 

Overall, it’s better to work toward a healthy balance of rest and work to avoid burnout while pursuing personal and professional goals. Taking time to rest can help prevent a lack of energy and performance in the long run. 

How to Rest Without Shame

Even though you can understand that you need to take time to relax, you might find it hard to practice taking breaks. A study published by Plos One on shame and guilt showed that these powerful emotions are often associated with self-injury, depression, and anxiety. 

Overworking yourself to the point where you neglect your own needs can be a less obvious form of self-harm. It’s important to identify why you might be feeling shame and guilt when you relax to help tackle and overcome these feelings so that you can rest. 

You might feel guilt or shame while relaxing because you:

  • Might feel like it’s too self-indulgent

  • Don’t feel like you deserve to rest

  • Feel like you need to be doing more, not less

  • Never learned how to take breaks

  • Were punished at school or work for resting 

Whatever the cause of your guilt, taking time for yourself is a necessity that you deserve. You deserve to rest, slow down, and recharge. When your responsibilities become overwhelming, taking time to relax without guilt can help you bounce back much quicker. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you get rid of feelings of guilt by teaching you how to notice these thoughts, challenge them, and replace them with more compassionate, realistic thoughts. You are likely doing better than you think you are. Grace and self-compassion serve as antidotes to shame and guilt, allowing you to rest in a way that does not stress you out. 

Relaxation Techniques

There are many different ways to relax. What might make you feel rested might not work for someone else, and vice versa. If you aren’t quite sure what you like to do to rest, take time to explore relaxing in various ways. Here are a few examples of relaxation: 

  • Yoga:

    Yoga can help you focus on your breathing while moving your body. Many forms of yoga invite you to slow down and be present in the moment to melt away the stresses of the day. 

  • Meditation:

    Taking time to meditate for a short amount of time per day can help you clear your mind and find peace. If you have a hectic work or school schedule, you can take breaks to meditate to disconnect and recharge.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation:

    You can listen to recordings that help you relax every muscle group in your body to achieve total physical relaxation. 

  • Schedule a mental health day:

    Give yourself permission to take a day off to do nothing but relaxing activities. You can watch movies, journal, go to a park, or create something to rest and enjoy a break. 

  • Practice time management:

    Good time management can be the difference between being overloaded and having a reasonable work/school load. You can practice time management by blocking out your day and purposefully scheduling time to relax. 

  • Learn how to say no:

    If you feel incredibly overwhelmed, you might also have a hard time saying no. Learning how to say no can help you avoid taking on too many responsibilities that you can’t realistically handle. 

Ultimately, learning how to relax takes practice. It might feel uncomfortable at first as you grapple with feelings of guilt, but as you learn to accept rest as an essential part of a healthy, balanced life, it will get easier with time. 

While relaxing is an excellent way to avoid burnout, it can be difficult to take breaks. You might find that relaxing causes your feelings of shame and guilt as you think you might not deserve it or need to be more productive rather than less productive. However, taking time to relax can help you recharge so that you can reach your goals with greater ease. If you are having trouble taking time for yourself without feeling guilty or ashamed, SokyaHealth can help. Our empathetic, supportive team can help you learn how to manage your stress levels, tackle feelings of guilt, and find greater balance in your life through rest and relaxation. At SokyaHealth, we provide holistic telehealth therapy where you can meet with a licensed therapist virtually. Our self-care tools can help you find rest and relaxation anytime and anywhere. Call SokyaHealth today to learn more about our services at (877) 840-6956.

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