If you have trouble relaxing and letting go, say goodbye to these 10 habits

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | December 27, 2023, 8:11 am

I get it, winding down isn’t as easy as it sounds, right?

You’re not alone if your mind races with to-dos when you’re trying to relax. It’s like your brain has its own agenda, refusing to shut off.

And what’s the reward for all that overthinking? A one-way ticket to Stressville, with a side of zero chill.

But here’s the thing – your habits might be the culprits keeping you from that zen zone.

So, let’s do a little habit inventory together and see if we can’t help you find that off switch.

Stick around as we look into the 10 habits that might just be the barrier between you and your well-deserved relaxation. 

Ready to say goodbye to them? Let’s find out.

1) Constantly checking your phone

Ever caught yourself in the endless scroll on your phone, telling yourself just five more minutes?

Guilty as charged. I’ve been there, stuck in the digital vortex, where time slips away like sand through your fingers. 

It’s this pesky habit that seems innocent enough but trust me, it’s a silent relaxation killer.

Just last week, I planned to have a quiet evening with a book – you know, old-school style. But there I was, phone in hand, thumb flicking through emails and social media like it had a mind of its own

And by the time I looked up, an hour had passed, and my mind was buzzing with everything but peace. 

The lesson? When it’s time to unwind, put the phone on silent or even better, out of sight. Your brain will thank you.

2) Skipping ‘me’ time

I used to think that taking time for myself was a luxury I couldn’t afford. There’s always something more ‘productive’ that could be done, right? Wrong. 

I’ve come to realize that carving out ‘me’ time isn’t just nice to have; it’s a non-negotiable for mental sanity.

Think of it this way: if I don’t prioritize my downtime, no one else will. So now, I actively schedule time for myself just as I would any important appointment. 

And you know what? It makes all the difference. So go ahead and block out time on your calendar for you – it’s not selfish; it’s essential.

3) Overcommitting to social plans

It turns out that saying yes to every social invite isn’t just exhausting, it’s actually counterproductive to relaxation.

Research has shown that too much social stimulation can lead to increased stress levels, which makes sense when you think about it. We’re social creatures by nature, but there’s a tipping point where the scale of interaction shifts from enjoyable to overwhelming.

The key here is: a balance of solitary and social activities. It’s finding that sweet spot where you’re connecting with others, but not at the expense of your own peace of mind. 

So next time your calendar is looking jam-packed with events, consider if each one is going to energize you or deplete you. 

It might just be time to RSVP ‘no’ and relish in some downtime instead.

4) Neglecting self-compassion

Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to be kind to ourselves, especially when we’re our own worst critics. We push through fatigue, brush off stress, and ignore our need for a break, all in the pursuit of being ‘productive.’ 

Yet, in this relentless drive, we often forget that to offer our best to the world, we must first tend to our own well-being.

When we treat ourselves with the same compassion we’d extend to a dear friend, we open the door to genuine relaxation. It’s in those moments, when we let go of self-judgment and embrace self-care, that we find a sense of calm that’s both deep and restorative.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a breath. Remind yourself that it’s not just okay but necessary to prioritize your well-being. 

Your heart, mind, and soul deserve that tender loving care just as much as anyone else’s.

5) Fearing the silence

I’ll confess, there was a time when I’d fill every moment with noise—podcasts during my morning routine, playlists for the commute, and TV shows to fill the quiet evenings. 

Silence felt like an uncomfortable guest, one I didn’t know how to entertain. But I’ve since learned that silence isn’t something to fear; it’s something to embrace.

One day, out of sheer curiosity (or maybe it was my phone’s dead battery), I let the silence in.

And what happened? My thoughts, once a jumbled mess racing at a hundred miles an hour, began to untangle. In the quiet, I found clarity and a sense of peace that had eluded me for so long.

Now, I make it a point to spend a few moments each day in silence. 

It’s become my sanctuary—a space where I can breathe deeply and let go of the day’s chaos. 

So if you’re like how I was, always reaching for the remote or earbuds, try sitting in silence instead. You might just discover a newfound friend in those quiet moments.

6) Multitasking mania

Multitasking was once my middle name. I’d pride myself on juggling emails, work, cooking, and even workouts all at once. It felt efficient, like I was winning at life.

But the truth? All that multitasking was fracturing my ability to truly unwind. Instead of doing one thing well, I was doing a million things poorly.

Science backs this up, with studies showing that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. It’s a hefty price to pay for the illusion of efficiency. 

These days, I focus on one task at a time, giving it my full attention.

The result? Tasks are completed faster and with more care, and when it’s time to relax, my mind isn’t bouncing between unfinished jobs.

7) Perfectionism

The pursuit of perfection can be a noble endeavor, but it’s also an exhausting one. Striving for flawless work, a spotless home, or the perfect response in every conversation is like chasing a goal that is always out of reach.

I learned this the hard way when my quest for the perfect project nearly burned me out. The breakthrough came when a mentor told me, “Done is better than perfect.” That phrase has become a mantra for me. 

Lesson learned: embracing imperfection allows us to let go of unrealistic standards and find satisfaction in progress rather than just outcomes.

8) Ignoring nature

There’s something about nature that’s inherently calming—the rustle of leaves, the whisper of the wind, the rhythm of waves crashing ashore. Yet in our busy lives, we often overlook the healing power of the natural world.

A growing body of evidence suggests that spending time in nature can lower stress levels, improve mood, and even enhance cognitive function. So now I make a conscious effort to step outside, even if it’s just a walk through the park or tending to my balcony garden. 

Connecting with nature has become an essential part of my daily routine for grounding myself and letting go of stress.

9) Not setting boundaries

Saying yes to everything isn’t just about overcommitting socially; it’s also about failing to set boundaries in all areas of life. 

Setting boundaries is crucial for relaxation. It means knowing your limits and communicating them clearly to others. It’s not selfish; it’s self-care. 

When you establish what you will and won’t accept from work and people in your life, you create space to breathe and be yourself.

10) Skipping physical activity

I used to think that exercise was just another task on my to-do list—a chore that needed checking off. But skipping out on physical activity didn’t do me any favors when it came to relaxing.

Regular exercise isn’t just good for the body; it’s a powerhouse for mental health. Whether it’s yoga, running, or dancing around your living room, movement is a proven stress-buster. It releases endorphins—those feel-good hormones—and helps clear your mind. Now I make sure to incorporate some form of exercise into my daily routine, not as a must-do but as a gift to myself.

Final words

As we wrap things up: bringing this all together means realizing that relaxation isn’t just about what you do in your downtime—it’s about how you live your life as a whole.

By saying goodbye to these habits, you’re not just making room for relaxation; you’re inviting peace into every moment of your day.

If you’ve been struggling with relaxing and letting go, consider which habits might be holding you back. Make small changes; they can lead to big results. 

Lastly, relaxation isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity for a well-balanced life.

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