How to rest without feeling guilty

What’s your most likely response when someone asks you how it's going? Let me guess, “Hey, doing good but so busy these days!” Right?

Being constantly busy has become the (not so) new normal and in our minds, being productive is synonymous with providing value. Everyone seems to be accomplishing so much around us that when we rest, we get this overwhelming anxiety or at the very least a nagging feeling that we are being lazy and that we should be doing something productive instead.

Here’s something you need to hear today. You deserve to rest. Resting reduces chronic stress, helps prevent burnouts and helps you perform your work more effectively. We could go on and on about the importance of rest, but it’s only when YOU start to truly believe in it, without feeling guilty, that your mind will allow you to relax completely.

Here are 9 ways to stop feeling guilty about letting your mind take a little break:

1. Add rest to your to do list

It may sound silly but think about it. If rest is an item on your checklist of things to do for the day, you have allotted time for it. Relax! Enjoy that time off and do whatever makes you happy. Mark it off your list when done. Good job!

2. GIve your phone a rest too

One of the biggest reasons we feel guilty when we relax, is because more often than not, we end up browsing our phones mindlessly, scrolling through social media, overloading our mind with unnecessary information. While a quick scroll is enjoyable, extended periods of unintentional binging lead to that familiar feeling of guilt and regret over time wasted “doing nothing”.  Doing something with intention that you actually enjoy and that captures your full attention can be an incredible stress reliever minus the nagging guilt. Go outside for a walk, meet a friend for lunch, play a game. Do something fun!

3. Make a “relaxation list”

Just like your work to do list, create one for rest. . List some activities that you enjoy such as reading a book or working on a pet project, or a fun keyboard session and pencil in time for them. Adding purposefully restful activities to your list gives you a valid reason to do them. 

Take them up like you would any other task. Only with these activities, you feel relaxed minus the guilt.

4. Celebrate your accomplishments

Next time you catch yourself feeling guilty about not doing anything, make a fresh list. List down all the things you have already accomplished that day, or week. Instead of always focusing on what's left to do and looking back at how much you have got done already shifts your mind from guilt to fulfillment. It tells you that you deserve that rest to regain the energy and mental space you need to get back to accomplishing more.

5. Reframe your thoughts about rest

Next time you feel guilty because you are watching Netflix while there are so many items pending in your to-do list, remind yourself that this is you just recharging your batteries. Anything you do that helps you relax, refreshes your mind and helps you get back to work re energized comes under self care time. Selfcare is very important for your mental health.  It is not a waste of time if it has a purpose. Be cautious of time spent and make a plan to limit the mindless binge watching.

6. Resting does not mean doing nothing 

Rest need not mean lying on the couch, inactive and mindlessly scrolling screens. It can be something calming and relaxing that you enjoy doing, that takes you away from your work and other stressors in your life such as painting, doodling or even gardening. It can be something leisurely that helps reduce your stress for a while. Doing something that gives you a sense of purpose and pleasure can be an excellent way to decompress minus the guilt.

7. Give mindfulness a try

Regularly practicing mindfulness can be immensely beneficial and help relieve your mind of everyday stress. While it may feel like a waste of time, knowing that you are taking the effort to make selfcare a priority, eases the sense of guilt and improves the general quality of your daily life. It does not need to be something daunting or difficult. It can be something as simple as writing in your journal for 15 mins daily, or deep breathing exercises or even just mindfully cooking up a new recipe while paying careful attention to the aromas, sounds and textures. A simple activity can easily transform into a delightful and calming experience.

8. Create a guilt free rest zone

Create a special nook for yourself, where you can go whenever you feel overwhelmed, overworked, anxious and stressed. Make it comfortable and cozy and fill it with things that ease your mind. Maybe it’s a small studio where you paint, a reading nook with your favorite books or even a meditation and journaling corner where you can disappear off to and engage in some meditative journaling. If you are here in your safe zone, there is no need for guilt because this is your space for rejuvenation. Having a designated spot helps make relaxation a part of your regular routine.

9. Re do your to-do list

If you have a mammoth intimidating to-do list, you are bound to feel guilty about resting while there are so many unchecked items sitting on your list. Create a realistic list with achievable goals. Prioritize your top three tasks and break it down to smaller chunks. Over scheduling your tasks can only set you up for disappointment. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing great! Take some rest. You have earned it.