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How to Relax and Enjoy Some Down Time

How to Relax

A lot of Americans get time off from work during the holidays. If you’re working customer service or in another industry where this is your busy season, maybe you can tuck these ideas away for when you do get a break.

However, time off doesn’t automatically result in rest and relaxation for many perfectionists and Type A personalities.

It’s hard for some people to relax. Does this sound like you?

  • routinely work long hours
  • rarely sit down with your family during a meal or movie (in your home)
  • pride yourself on having a strong work ethic
  • complain that others don’t work as hard as you do
  • goal-driven
  • feel like there’s always one more thing to do
  • “fun” is a low priority
  • your family complains that you work too much
  • rarely take a vacation

If relaxing doesn’t come easily to you, think of it as a skill that you can learn and practice. But if you’re going to invest in relaxing and enjoying down time, you first need to see its benefits.

Why is rest and relaxation important?

  • Decreases stress
  • Helps you sleep better and feel better physically (such as decreasing blood pressure and headaches, fewer colds)
  • Increases productivity
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Increases happiness
  • Improves focus and accuracy
  • Results in more energy
  • Improves decision-making skills

Do you need help learning to relax?

In my experience, most perfectionists and Type A personalities have a hard time relaxing and allowing themselves to rest or enjoy recreation. You can start small.

Even if you believe it’s important, finding balance between work and fun/relaxation is challenging for perfectionists. I find that making small, incremental changes are the most realistic. Small changes also create less anxiety. Instead of thinking about spending a whole day on rest of fun, consider committing to two hours of no work of any kind.

Ways to relax include:How to Relax and Rest

  • take a nap
  • spend time with your children
  • spiritual practices
  • meditation
  • take a walk
  • a date with your partner
  • listen to music
  • a hobby
  • visit or call a friend
  • stretching
  • do nothing at all
  • reading for pure pleasure
  • play a game
  • technology-free day
  • see a movie

Like most things, there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. You’ll need to experiment and find what helps you relax. But like learning anything new, you’ll need to be intentional when it comes to rest, relaxing, and enjoying your time off.

Thanks for reading! I’ll only be posting once this week and once next week as I’m practicing what I preach! I hope you all have a restful and enjoyable holiday.


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How to Relax and Enjoy Some Down Time

Sharon Martin, LCSW

Sharon Martin is an emotional wellness speaker, writer, and licensed psychotherapist. Her San Jose based practice specializes in helping over-stressed, high achieving adults and teens learn to embrace their imperfections and grow happiness. Her personal journey of overcoming perfectionism and people-pleasing traits, inspired her passion for this work. Sharon is the author of Setting Boundaries Without Guilt: A Workbook to Move You From Doormat to Empowerment. Sharon also enjoys teaching blogging and writing classes for therapists. You can find her on Twitter, instagram, and her website.

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APA Reference
Martin, S. (2015). How to Relax and Enjoy Some Down Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 16, 2018, from


Last updated: 23 Dec 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Dec 2015
Published on All rights reserved.