Relaxing is Hard Work

I’m not very good at resting.


Oh, don’t get me wrong – I’m good at sleeping. While my marathon sleeping ability may not be quite what it was back in college, I can still manage a good 14-hour stretch when given the chance. [My record is 22 hours straight. Granted, I was recovering from mononucleosis at the time, but I was under no medication so I think it still counts!]


Geoff Sleeping - small
Geoff demonstrating his sleeping skills


No, it’s not insomnia that’s my problem… my problem is difficulty relaxing. Taking a break from my to-do list is hard for me.


Now, I’m not a super-driven-workaholic-go-getter by any means, and I do tend to procrastinate, but I have a running list of “things-I-really-should-be-doing-right-now” in the back of my mind, and it’s hard to ignore.


No matter how much I “rest” on my days off, I simply do not feel rested unless I’ve accomplished at least a couple things on my perpetual to-do list.


When the weekend comes, I’d love to just curl up in my chair with a blanket and a good book and while away the hours. But when I do that and I neglect my to-do list, the relaxation feels tainted. I feel guilty that I didn’t get the bathroom cleaned or that letter written or those old clothes taken to the thrift store.


With that knowledge of tasks left undone lurking in the back of my mind, I am robbed of the full measure of rest and rejuvenation my lazy weekend should have brought me.


This phenomenon applies to holidays too. We spent a wonderful three days with Geoff’s family over Christmas. I slept late. I watched TV. I played games. I assembled a puzzle. I went for a bike ride. And yes, I ate too many desserts. But the whole time, I felt a twinge of guilt for not working on my ever-growing to-do list. I stressed over the Christmas newsletter I hadn’t sent out (two days after Christmas isn’t too late, is it?). I felt bad for not bringing mission-trip-fundraiser-stuff with me to work on. I worried over the fact that I didn’t post anything on my blog (yes, it was Christmas, and yes, I had very limited internet access, but I still felt guilty).


Even Christmas Day doesn’t shut off the internal “you-should-be-doing-something-productive” metronome ticking in my head.


Ahhhh it’s a curse.


But I guess it’s a blessing too. Without that blasted irritation constantly tickling the back of my mind, I suppose I’d never get anything done.


How about you? Do you feel like relaxing is a lot of work, or can you relax worry-free? Tell me in the comments below!

2 Replies to “Relaxing is Hard Work”

  1. This is why God COMMANDED us to take a sabath rest. A day to not strive. You need to learn to find satisfaction in leaving things undone one day a week as a way of honoring your Creator. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink and thank God for your day of rest. Don’t make the bed, Leave the laundry unfolded and take joy in your creator who left a day to enjoy.
    P.s. it isn’t something I accomplish regularly but it is a goal of mine.

    1. Very true, and a good reminder, thank you. I think the solution lies in my self-discipline. If I can master my bad habit of procrastinating, then I can get my to-do’s done and out of the way so that I can truly rest and enjoy the sabbath!

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