When I first got into self-improvement, I would always treat myself harshly if I took a night off to spend time on any activity deemed “unproductive” (i.e not contributing towards achieving an end goal).

In these times my mind would fill itself with uncompassionate thoughts

“How could you take a night off?  Your life is ticking away, and you choose to waste it…”

All this achieved was making me feel bad.

It took many years to appreciate, you are allowed to take time to enjoy yourself.

That means:

  • Spending time with friends, for nothing but pleasure.
  • Doing activities that don’t stretch and challenge.
  • Enjoying life and accepting not everything has to contribute to an end result.

Relax to grow…

Before the UK gym shut downs, I’d pushed myself for years to achieve some massive lifts and managed to achieve a long-term goal at the start of the year.

This has meant in 2021 has unproductive, as I’ve felt felt directionless and not sure what to do next…

And this isn’t a bad thing…

It’s been real easy to take a step back, spend more time with the family and just generally goof around.

Taking more time to live in the moment has done wonders to my wellbeing, and I can’t help enjoy myself doing things that aren’t serving some long-term plan.

When you spend too much time on the hustle, means losing a lot of joy from life, and can even result in going backwards on your goals.

It’s what Stephen Covey refers to as “Sharpening the Saw”.

When you do weight training in the gym, you are there to push yourself to get bigger and stronger.

But your body can only grind so much before it plateaus, getting to a point where you stop growing and you feel tired and weak.

That’s because your body isn’t built to endure constant stress and needs regular weeks off to deload so it can rest.

When the novice first does this, they get a bit nervous from stopping – all their hardwork is going to disappear overnight and they’ll come back fat and weak.

But the seasoned gym goer knows that when you return to training, the first time you look in the mirror, you’ll notice how much bigger your muscles look and how those heavy weights you’ve been struggling with feel like your pushing air.

The same applies to your ambitions – by allowing time to unwind, relax and recover gives renewed vigour to come back better than ever.

And that is why I’m not too worried about having no urgency to find new goals.

Image from Pexels

When it’s not okay to relax…

“Netflix and chill” has become a trope to describe laziness and procrastination – but it’s okay to indulge in entertainment.

Where it comes bad is having too much, getting in the habit of binge watching, as whole evenings and weekends are spent working through the latest must watch show.

You can easily get wrapped up in time wasters, activities that if you spend too much time on lose their fun and make you question what you are doing.

Speaking of which, recently I decided to take the time to detox myself from social media, uninstalling the apps from my phone as I was struggling to find much fun from this activity.

Now and again, I’ll go on when I’m on the laptop and as a result my mind feels less overwhelmed with notifications, messages and opinions.

It’s good to relax, just make sure whatever your doing is good for you.

It’s about balance…

The solution to personal growth is simply about maintaining a sensible balance.

Too much of a good thing means ambitions don’t get realised and changes to improve don’t happen.

But too much grinding means you don’t get to enjoy the fantastic life you’ve been working hard to make better.

There is no point:

  • having a nice home if there is no one to share it with.
  • being financially secure if you can’t use some of it to experience life.
  • obtaining a high powered and respected position in society if you are lonely.

Learn to take pleasure in simple things, look at the stars, breath the air – everything doesn’t have to be about achieving a win.

Image from Pexels

When you take time off, don’t punish yourself for looking away from the bigger picture, even if the alternative way you spent your time was one that was wasted – you can’t take anything back that has already happened, you can only move forward.

Now…, repeat after me:

“It’s okay to relax.

It’s okay to take a night off.

It’s okay to do things that give you nothing but pleasure.”

Take care of yourself and see you next time.

James @Perfect Manifesto


This post was originally written for Tribe Media as “It’s Okay To Relax”, I’ve rewritten it for 2021 and my current situation.

Like this? Why not read: What Does Stand By Me Teach You About Life?

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12 thoughts on “It’s Okay To Relax

  1. This post really resonated with me. I’ve recently posted a reflection on how normalized over-programming our lives has become. I really liked your distinction between relaxing and crossing that line into forming unhealthy habits (like Netflix addiction). My view was more from the perspective of how focus on being productive has a tendency to diminish our enjoyment of vacations/travel, but you are really highlighting the same root challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed this short read. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment. I know what you mean about normalising over programming. I remember going to the cinema and thinking how pointless and meaningless it was to indulge in a bit of entertainment. I realised this was impacting my mindset and actually struggling to find enjoyment in life!

      It funny you mention travel as I went on my first holiday in years and the need to be productive kicked in, but I ignored it, relaxed and enjoyed myself, then found when I got back how much more effective I felt.

      It was this experience which reminded me off the importance to take time out.

      Thank you for your thoughts 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly does, I know when I got started in self-improvement I got too into the “hustle, no days off mindset” but just found my performance declining, taking that time away has allowed me to reflect, grow and returned refreshed ready for better results!

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Terrific article and timely. Actually I don’t believe there’s such a thing as balance since everything always changes, unless we drift off forever into couch potatoland lol. The saviors in this world are those who remind us to get up and do something when we’re down, and slow down when we’ve gone overboard. More common than you think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good insight! It’s the changes that happen in life that sometimes need to that time away to relax so we can reconfigure ourselves and figure how to deal with it.

      It’s good having people to drive and also allow us to live in the moment too, my family comes to mind with this.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. great post, James. Sharpening the saw is my favorite habit of Covey’s! One problem of taking a day off is that it leads to two, then three, then it becomes a habit. I speak from experience 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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