Why you can never relax and enjoy your free time

you can never relax
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Do you feel as though you can never relax, even on vacation? Is every spare moment filled with activities and obligations, most of which you don’t enjoy?

It’s possible you’ve been living on overdrive so long, you believe there’s no alternative. But there are deep-seated reasons why you can never relax. Here are 5 that may sound familiar to you.

1. Emotional neglect.

Growing up, you received little praise or encouragement from your parents. As a result, you never experienced the satisfaction of a job well done, or a game well played.

You felt there was always more to do and nothing you did was good enough. That’s why you fail to experience the grand exhale after a hard day’s work.

You never really feel like you’re finished. It’s as though your off switch is broken and you can’t power down.

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2. You’re afraid of being lazy.

Generation X has internalized a lot of faulty messaging around laziness. That messaging served the people around us very well. Many of us became over responsible and parentified in a culture that had yet to formalize and normalize child care.

Generation X has internalized a lot of faulty messaging around laziness. That messaging served the people around us very well. Click To Tweet

As a result, you can never relax because you’re afraid of appearing lazy, even to yourself. You fill up your free time with obligations and taking care of others.

Many women in our generation enjoy no free time at all. We’ve lost the ability to gauge our own bandwidth and over give to the point of illness. Often, it’s not until we end up with an autoimmune disease that we stop.

3. You grew up with conditional love.

You received the message that love depended on performance. If you got good grades or won athletic trophies, or insert condition here, then you would win your parents’ approval.

You never felt loved for who you are, so you believe your value comes from your output. You have trouble understanding your intrinsic worth, that you matter simply because you exist.

4. You can never relax because you feel unworthy.

You have trouble powering down because you feel unworthy of time to yourself. When you have space in your calendar you rush to fill it with obligations to others.

Spending free time on yourself and things you enjoy makes you feel selfish. You rush to help others, volunteer, or embark on another project rather than kick back and unwind.

5. You can never relax because you’re distracting yourself.

Many of us live lives that are inauthentic and unfulfilling. Keeping busy distracts us from the fact we’re unhappy. It’s a coping mechanism that prevents us from doing the hard work of changing our lives.

Many of us live lives that are inauthentic and unfulfilling. Keeping busy distracts us from the fact we're unhappy. Click To Tweet

For this reason, some people are terrified of down time and rush to fill it. Free time forces us to look at ourselves. That’s when honest emotions creep in with all their inconvenient information.

Final thoughts

If you’re a person who can never relax, do any of the items on this list resonate with you? If so, challenge yourself to stop filling your free time with activities.

Reserve some of that space in your calendar for you. Spend 10 minutes a day journaling how you feel. Or simply sit quietly and let your feelings come.

Rather than judge yourself for your feelings, observe them uncritically. You’ll be amazed at what a few minutes of quiet time will tell you about yourself and your life.

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