Why is it so difficult to rest?

Why is it so difficult to rest?

For some of us, myself included, it can be difficult to shut down our productivity mindset and rest. You might notice it on the first couple days of vacation or a day off or work. You know you should take advantage of a break to sit, take a breath, and *gasp* possibly read, but you feel almost jittery, like you need to keep moving and keep busy.

It’s an inner struggle that can make our days off feel just as draining and like they are never enough. 

Some of this drive to keep moving or being uncomfortable with resting is connected to personality. At times I envy those people (*cough* my husband) who can easily sit down and not think about all the tasks that need to be done. Another major factor is our culture of constant activities and busy schedules.

We grow accustomed to a lack of downtime and then don’t know what to do with ourselves if we do have free time. We don’t have hobbies or anything meaningful to fill that time, which can leave us feeling a little empty. 

The busy pace also leads to adrenaline addiction. In his book “Addiction and Grace” Gerald May points out that our brains become accustomed to having that extra dose of adrenaline that we need to get through our over packed schedules. When we finally do have downtime, our brains start experiencing withdrawal. We crave our fix – busyness. Finally, sometimes our hectic schedules are actually an avoidance strategy to keep us from having to sit and ponder the difficult things we are facing in life – painful relationships, unfulfilling jobs, negative emotions. When we stop moving, the reality of all those things come rushing back, and it can be overwhelming. 

So what do we do if we suspect this drive to avoid rest has some unhealthy roots?

My suggestion – sit with that discomfort, and see what comes up. Examine the thoughts and emotions that surface. It might be helpful to write them down in order to discuss them with a friend, mentor, or counselor. 

I will leave you this reminder – your worth and value is not defined by the number of accomplishments you complete in a day.

Written by: Melanie Ross

Originally posted on 

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