Does it often seem like there are too many things on your to-do list and not nearly enough hours on the day? You’re not alone. Many people try to do it all, to be as helpful as possible to as many people as possible, and burn themselves out.
This is especially common with people who pride themselves on being productive. Even when there isn’t anything on the table, these people sometimes find it hard to relax! But being productive or busy for the sake of it isn’t necessarily a virtue.
Keeping yourself busy can be good, but it’s important to take time for yourself to relax, recharge, and just be. Figuring out how to give yourself permission to do less is an important part of self-care. Working these thoughts into your mental patterns while maintaining your pride and self-esteem is one of the best things you can do to ensure that you can achieve what you want without burning yourself out.
Why Doing More Is Never Enough
One of the biggest problems facing people who try to do it all is that “all” doesn’t have a definition. There is always another task, another favor, and the next thing you know; you’re overextending yourself on tasks you didn’t initially have on your plate. Maybe something that truly was essential falls by the wayside as a result. Thus, even if you’re handling your responsibilities effectively, it can be easy to spiral out of control.
So, why does it seem that even when you’re trying to do it all, it seems like the list of tasks keeps on building? Part of the problem can stem from a sense of personal inadequacy. It’s common to feel like you’re not where you want to be in life, even if those expectations aren’t based on anything in particular.
This can be caused by comparing yourself to other people who you know or in similar fields or just trying to measure up to goals you may have set for yourself at an earlier stage of your life. But you’re not competing with yourself or with anyone else. The only thing that matters is that you’re carving out a happy and healthy life for yourself, at your pace.
So where do these unhealthy thought patterns come from? The most common source is influenced from childhood or your upbringing. Maybe a parent pushed themselves too far and internalized that as the ideal behavior, or maybe unrealistic expectations were set by a parent or other authority figure like a teacher.
This can make people feel like they’re doing something wrong simply by existing without being occupied, and they try to busy themselves to seek approval. The line “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” is a tactic of poor managers, not a way to live your life!
The Permission To Do Less
It’s possible you have years of programming teaching you that you have to be always occupied, always helpful, so how do you begin to unlearn it? If you’re starting to feel like you’re about to burn out, it might work to simply incorporate the need to rest into your current programming.
You’re not at your best if you burn out, so you need to incorporate a little rest and relaxation into your day. If you’re the type of person who likes to plan out your day, don’t be afraid to write in that break for a nap, a cup of coffee, or some time reading or watching your favorite show into your day. It’s not slacking off; it’s part of self-care, just like eating or drinking.
Rest and Relaxation
A fear of failure or a lack of knowing your personal limits can make it difficult to balance your day effectively. But you need time to escape or recover from stressful situations in order to be able to perform at your peak. Everything is trickier when you’re just starting out, including resting and doing less.
It may feel unnatural to let yourself relax at first, but that’s just a sign that you need to keep at it. Make some peaceful time part of your daily routine, and you’ll be amazed by how your concentration and your mental focus improve.
Comfort is a big part of allowing yourself to relax, so make sure you’re providing yourself with what you need. Everyone’s example of relaxation is different, so if you like to read indoors, make sure you have a comfortable chair to do so in. If you like to jog or play sports, you may want to invest in comfortable shoes and a pair of prescription sports sunglasses to ensure the sun doesn’t get in the way of a good workout.
The Break You Need
Remember, it’s not how you relax that matters. It’s giving your body and mind the chance to recharge. The first step to making this come naturally is realizing where it comes from.
Whether you have an overly competitive streak or unhealthy patterns from childhood, you can break this pattern. It’s amazing what a difference it makes for mental health. Give yourself permission to do less and relax, and the benefits will come on quickly.