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How To Stop Feeling Guilty For Relaxing

Two Simple Steps to Start Enjoying Your Well-Deserved Downtime

Relaxing at the sea without feeling bad, lazy or guilty.

For the majority of my life I was unable to unwind. As a former tennis pro, strategy consultant, corporate executive and e-commerce entrepreneur, rest and recovery always felt like a waste of my precious time. I was hardwired to work hard and perform at my highest level every single minute of the day (and night). The result: a burnout that almost cost my life.

“We are addicted to being productive.”

It’s a problem many of us struggle with. Our whole society, especially the so-called high performers and Type A personalities all have this one thing in common: We are addicted to being productive. There are always a million things we need to accomplish, hundreds of e-mails to be answered and dozens of tasks to be completed. And even though we feel that we’re in desperate need of a renewal break we still feel bad and guilty as soon as we try to relax. At first we try to ignore that quiet whisper in the back of our head. But with every minute it gets louder and louder until it turns into a naughty voice screaming at us to get up and start getting things done!

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are two simple steps you can apply now to stop feeling guilty for relaxing so you can enjoy your well-deserved recovery:

1. Reframe recovery

First you need to get rid of the false and limiting belief that recovery is a waste of time and a luxury only the low-performers can afford to enjoy. The opposite is true! Burn this simple (and research-backed) reality into your high-performer mind: the single biggest difference between sustainable high performers – those legends and super achievers who manage to perform at their highest level for years and decades – and the exhausted average is recovery.

“You can only work as hard as you’re able to recover.”

2. Make recovery a goal

This is a true game changer for people like you and me who are highly competitive and goal-oriented: Make recovery a clear, measurable goal and write it down just like your other (business) goals. Start treating it as an assignment that you need to accomplish and check off your list. Be as precise as you can to create urgency, accountability and priority. This little trick will make it so much easier for you to allocate your precious time to activities like reading a book, working out, meditating or napping. Try it out! Turning your recovery into a specific goal will remove the trade-off between being productive and recovery that caused your guilty feeling in the first place.

“We love achieving our goals.”

It might sound a little funny – turning leisure time into something you need to measure and judge yourself on. But here’s the thing: We love achieving our goals and being productive. Once unwinding and relaxing (without feeling lazy or guilty!) has become a habit, you’ll get addicted to the state of feeling re-energized, rested, focused and strong. It takes just a little practice to get there. Until then, you need to trick your productivity-addicted, high performer mind a little bit. The great Tony Robbins taught us the difference between our shoulds and our musts: We sometimes meet our shoulds – when it’s easy and convenient. But we always meet our musts no matter what. Make recovery your new must and your life will reach a whole new level!

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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