What Makes it Hard to Relax?
Do you have trouble relaxing? It seems like relaxation should be the easiest thing in the world. After all, when we are relaxed, we are doing less. In a relaxed state, we are using less energy, using less (or hopefully no) effort — we’re at ease. And yet, people so often find it’s difficult to relax.
On this page, we discuss some of the common difficulties with relaxing, as well as tips to overcome them. If you find yourself saying “I don’t have time to relax”, “I just can’t seem to relax” or “I have to stay busy all the time”, read more!
Difficulty — “I don’t have time to relax.”
The most challenging part of relaxing for most of us is finding the time. There never seems to be enough time for all the things we have to do. As a result, we feel we can’t take the time to relax — time when we could be accomplishing something.
What we don’t realize is that by taking the time to relax, we will actually be able to accomplish more when we are active. Relaxation gives us more energy, clears the mind, soothes the emotions and paves the way for more enjoyable, productive activity.
Make relaxation a priority — the benefits of relaxation to your health and well-being will help you to accomplish more in the long run. You can’t afford not to take the time to relax!
Difficulty — “I just can’t seem to relax.”
What do we mean when they say we can’t relax? Have you ever felt that way? Usually we mean that we don’t feel relaxed when we are doing something to relax. We may sit or lie down to take it easy, and notice that we feel tense or restless. We sit a little longer, and continue to feel that way. We think that relaxing should feel different than that. We feel that we are failing at relaxing!
1 – Relaxation is a process. When you sit down to relax, you may become aware of tension or restlessness in the body which you were not noticing while busy. As a result, you won’t feel relaxed, and may even feel fidgety and want to go right back to what you were doing. The trick is to continue sitting, allowing yourself to feel the tension and restlessness. These sensations will gradually diminish. Usually after a few minutes, you will start to feel calmer and more relaxed.
When we start to relax, our body and mind need to make a transition from activity to rest. It’s like shifting the gears in a car into neutral. The engine takes time to slow down. There is a kind of momentum of activity that continues for awhile as the mind and body gradually settle down. Given time, relaxation will happen as we allow ourselves to “simply be”.
2 – There are many different ways to relax. The key is to find what is relaxing for you. Sitting and doing nothing may not work for everyone. A walk in nature, swimming, stretching, knitting, meditating, listening to music — different things work for different people.
Often the mind and body can relax naturally simply through a change in activity. Too much concentration on one thing, doing one type of activity for too long a period of time or sitting for long periods creates tension.
3 – The attitude with which we approach relaxing is important. It’s important that we not put demands on ourselves to accomplish something, even being relaxed. Trying to relax is a sure-fire way to get tense!
4 – A relaxation technique may be needed for deeper relaxation. Using a relaxation technique or using a relaxation aid such as a guided meditation CD can help you to relax more deeply than you would be able to on your own. We invite you to enjoy a guided meditation with music in our Relaxation Room.
Difficulty — “I have to stay busy all the time.”
Find a relaxing activity. People who feel they have to stay busy all the time may need to find a relaxing activity, such as gardening or knitting. It will be very important, however, to do these activities in a relaxing way. Approach the activities with the purpose of relaxing, not to accomplish some goal such as completing a knitting project or finishing all the weeding in the garden. The time spent should be approached as time set aside for relaxation and enjoyment.
Set aside some time to do only what you want to do. Another way to relax for those who feel they have to always be busy is to spend some time doing whatever you want to do. Set aside a couple of hours, or better yet a morning or even a whole day in which you will only do what you want to do when you want to do it. This can be an incredibly relaxing experience if done right.
Finally, the need to be busy all the time can be a way of avoiding feelings which surface when you relax. If there are issues in your life that you are not facing or feelings such as grief which you are avoiding through being constantly busy, these will be felt when you relax. If this is the case, you may need to get some support with these feelings or issues. This may be important for your health and well-being. Not only will it support your ability to relax, which is important to combat the stress of life, but resolution of the issues themselves will be extremely beneficial.
Visit our Relaxation Room to take a guided Relaxation Break now!