Resting Without Guilt

We’re constantly being told that our value lies in our productivity, and that messaging creates a vicious circle of guilt and burnout.

We can’t be productive because we need to rest, but rest makes us feel unproductive, so we feel guilty, which makes the rest less impactful.

So, what can we do about it?

The impacts of late-stage capitalism and unique factors in our own lives mean that often some causes of guilt are out of our control. Nonetheless, there are some small steps we can take to remind ourselves it’s okay to rest.

Internalise your attention

Phone notifications, FOMO and social media envy externalise our attention, pulling us away from what we’re doing to what we’re not doing.

If you can, shut off phone notifications, uninstall disruptive apps, or just turn your phone off while resting.

If you can’t do that without negative consequences, try just placing your phone further away from you so you’re not tempted to browse social media.

Check the facts

Strong emotions like guilt can allow our “emotion mind” to take over, and objective facts can become harder to recognise. Reminding ourselves of the facts helps us enter our “wise mind” where emotions and logic are balanced.

To check the facts, try asking yourself:

  • Am I hurting anyone’s feelings by resting?
  • Am I at risk of missing any deadlines by resting?
  • Will there be consequences if I wait another day to clean (for example)?
  • Is my body and/or mind feeling tired? Would I benefit from rest?

Train your body for rest

When we’re feeling guilty, we often unconsciously assume a tense and closed-off posture. Intentionally shifting to a more relaxed or confident posture can help your mind to follow your body.

To assume an opposite posture, even if laying down:

  • Lift your head
  • Open your arms to the side and stretch
  • Unclench your jaw
  • Drop your shoulders

It may take several tries, but it can help once your mind catches up.

Accept your guilt

Trying to ignore or stifle emotions like guilt doesn’t make them go away. Instead, it can help to accept that you feel guilty while externalising pride and gratitude for yourself.

Tell a friend, family member, pet, or even a soft toy, that you’re taking time for yourself and you’re proud of yourself for it.

It’s okay if you still feel guilty internally, but proclaiming your intention and pride in a difficult choice can help to reduce the guilt with time.

In a capitalistic society, our worth is often judged by our output. For some of us, this can be a heavy burden and prevent us from getting the rest we need and inherently deserve as human beings.

We hope these tips can help you next time you’re feeling guilty or ashamed for resting. Remember you are worthy of rest no matter your output.