Why Does Relaxing Makes Us All Feel Guilty?

Productivity guilt

The glorious nothing days. The days you do absolutely nothing that is remotely productive but instead sit in your pyjamas, eat and doss. They are underestimated, but amazing.

Sometimes you just need to step back from all of the hustle and bustle and lose yourself in a Real Housewives marathon. It feels good, and it probably does you good (the doing nothing – the Real Housewives marathon probably doesn’t do you much good.) They stop you getting run down, give you pause for breath and let you take stock of the things going on around you.

So why then do we feel guilty as hell the day after? At first I thought it was just me, but it turns out ‘glorious nothing days’ are often followed by ‘crappy guilt day’ for pretty much everyone.

Even if you have had a productive week and managed to do everything you wanted to do, there is always the dread that you have forgotten something and that is why you’ve got a free day. Or the regret when you finally, sluggishly check your emails and get chirpy little newsletters telling you how to be more productive, more efficient, more fashionable and well, just more.

Suddenly the clouds start to gather, the ‘hell yes I’ve spent the day in my pyjamas’ attitude suddenly becomes a slightly ashamed confession; as you look at the ground, dig your hands into your pockets and try to avoid the judgemental stare of your pet.

You could have done something to advance your career, you could have kick-started a new exercise regime. You could have even just done some more cleaning whilst still in your pyjamas. But you didn’t; so now it is universally known that you are lazy, unkempt and that the one day you missed is forever going to hold you back in life.

It sounds ridiculous when you say it like that, because basically it is. Whatever you could have done, you can generally do tomorrow. The love of your life isn’t going to walk out when you recall that Sunday three years ago you didn’t do the ironing.

So why do we all feel so guilty?

Why do we never feel as if we have done enough?

Some people will tell you it is about self-esteem, others will blame the pressure of modern advertising or social media. Some will blame the fear of God the recession put into many people, what with less job security and even lesser jobs.

Whatever the reason is for feeling this way, I’m doing my best to combat it. And I sincerely hope you are too. When I start getting the first pangs of guilt that I’ve wasted this day, I start to make a mental note of the things I have accomplished in that week, or even month. If that doesn’t work, I think about the days where I’ve been sleep deprived, or under stress, or ill from getting run down. Even through the fog of memory I still know they weren’t my most productive days. Although the day after it feels counter-productive; sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do.

Productivity Guilt Relaxation


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