The Reason You're Unable To Relax On Your Day Off

A life coach has revealed all...
Thai Liang Lim via Getty Images

Most of us have been there. You’re beyond excited for a day off work that’s coming up after you’ve been so busy, and then it gets around to the big day and you end up scrolling TikTok all day, deep cleaning or just not sure what to do with yourself.

There are a few different reasons for this. First, our busy nine-to-five lifestyles in the UK means that we’re often putting life admin tasks to the side while we juggle cooking for ourselves, going to work, exercising, looking after kids or seeing friends and trying to stay sane while we do it.

That means that when the weekend or a day off rolls around, we’re lumbered with a to-do task as long as our arm. Weed the garden, wash the car, pay bills, sort out new car insurance. It can end up feeling like just another day of work.

With 74% of people in the UK feeling “overwhelmed or unable to cope” over the past year, it seems that some time to relax is just what we all need. So why can’t we do it?

Stress and anxiety can cause our minds to go into overdrive, just when the opportunity to de-stress comes around.

TikTok life coach Masha Kay agrees that excess stress hormones can wreak havoc on your system: “The inability to relax even when you’re off is the number one sign your nervous system is living in survival mode. And because your nervous system is dysregulated so often you’ve come to think of this as normal.

“That’s until you try to relax and turn it off and you realise something isn’t right.”

So, what’s the solution? She suggests reframing how you think of relaxing. “Next time you’re struggling to relax, change your wording. ‘My nervous system doesn’t feel like it’s safe to relax.’ Your nervous system is reacting as if a tiger is chasing you. It doesn’t want you staying still. This is exactly what’s happening when you want to relax and your body just can’t.”

She explains that there’s too much ‘mobilising energy’ in your body - the stress that gives you the energy for fight or flight - but by trying to stay still, it makes things so much worse.

“We don’t want to fight against our body, we want to work with it, she says. “You need to give your body a way to release this mobilising energy - walking, running shaking, dancing. Five, ten minutes is more than enough.”

This is something Corrine Mills, a career coach based in London, also encourages: “Some people aren’t very good at sitting down in a darkened room – they need to do something active.”

Kay also suggests giving yourself a ‘rest tolerance’ where you incorporate short periods of rest into your life so that you’re able to chill out when it comes to holidaying or having a weekend doing nothing.

She says that by doing this, you can rewire your nervous system so you’re more able to relax.

Some people resonated with the feeling of not being able to chill out, with one commenting: “This shit made me cry. I just wanna feel at peace.”

Another shared: “This is the clearest and best explanation I’ve ever heard about dysregulation and correction. Thank you!!”