Why highly sensitive people struggle to relax on weekends

Something I've been reflecting on recently is whether it is harder for a highly sensitive person (HSP) to rest. To truly relax without a niggle of guilt, a voice of 'shoulds'?

How is it that the HSP sees other women relaxing at the weekend, yet she has this intense pressure to be productive, to do the laundry, clean the bathroom, pay her taxes, tick off her to-do list, and get 'ahead' for the upcoming week?


Why do highly sensitive women feel pressure to be productive?​

Is it because she is so aware of what others think and do that she can't help but compare herself to some imaginary marker she believes everyone else is living up to?

Is it because she has spent so much of her life being told that she's not enough? That she has to overcome this problem of sensitivity in order to be successful, whether that's in a career, a marriage, a friendship, or a hobby.

Is it because she feels like she's always on the back foot, one step behind everyone else?

Is it because she senses that everyone else received this guidebook for living at birth and she's still waiting for hers?

Is it because she believes her life is a total mess and she's doing all she can to keep it from falling apart?

If you find it hard to fully switch off at the weekend as a highly sensitive person, let me tell you that you're so far from being alone.

If you struggle with relaxing on weekends or feel like you always have to be busy, you may like to read Why is relaxation so important? 

Toxic idealised standards

The society in which many of us have grown up promotes this narrative of the ideal woman who has her life together. She married the perfect man. She balances a high-flying career with picking up the kids from school. She finds the time to bake banana bread and keep the home pristine clean. Oh, and of course she has a 'rocking body'.

This is a toxic ideal for any woman to strive for.

But for the highly sensitive woman who's been told that she's different, that she needs to overcome her sensitivities, that she's too much or a burden, this narrative becomes a way in which she can finally prove her worth to those who doubted or criticised her.

Now we all know (logically at least) that this woman doesn't exist. Yet the highly sensitive woman sets herself standards and targets which she'll constantly fall short of - reinforcing her personal story that she's not enough and that she has to work harder.

So rest becomes a luxury that she can't indulge in... not until she's caught up with everyone else. Changing the narrative you've been telling yourself for so long, perhaps all your life, isn't easy. A lot of the time, it's challenging and uncomfortable.

Even recently, I had a weekend without any plans that I was really looking forward to. I knew my mind and body needed it as my summer had been full. But by mid-morning, I could feel the anxiety creeping in. This inner conflict of what I 'should' be doing; of how I ought to be using this time more productively.

"Why don't you write a blog? Or start recording the course you want to launch? You have some emails unanswered, that's not too much effort. The least you could do is prepare your food for the week!"

And yes, these are things I certainly could have done to 'get ahead', to feel more in control, but when would it end? I know there's always, always, always going to be something 'more' I could do. Just one more thing that I could tick off until I give myself permission to rest. I know that giving in to these oh-so-very tempting voices wasn't going to teach me the lessons that I want to learn: that it's safe, necessary, kind to let myself relax and that my worthiness isn't tied to my busyness.

The power of rest

So I grabbed my book (not the educational one my mind was screaming out for) and sat outside in the beautiful sun we were having. For a moment the voices were loud, the discomfort of doing nothing intense. But I reminded myself that it's in these very moments where the de-conditioning happens.

There was a time when I couldn't sit in that discomfort, the critics' arguments were too convincing to challenge. But these days I can give myself a day, sometimes an entire weekend to do the things that light me up. A hike, a swim, a sunbathing, a read, a film, a game of tennis - all without guilt.

And the big shock revealed - this doesn't mean that the dishes stack high or my clothes never get washed. These things still get done! But when I'm doing them I know that I've given myself the time I need to rest first. Taking care of myself no longer gets relegated to the bottom of the pile. It's right there at the top, my non-negotiable.

I love empowering my clients to create a life that makes them smile when they think about it in the shower. I'm so inspired by them and the work they do because I know it certainly isn't always rainbows and butterflies. But without changing the narrative, you're going to keep repeating the same old story and living the same old day.

And you deserve so much more than that.

So what's one thing you can do this weekend that is just for you? A time without guilt, shame, or pressure. Even if that's just five minutes, that is an amazing place to start!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW6 & Lymington SO41
Written by Alexandra Taylor, Holistic Life & Mindset Coach for Women
London SW6 & Lymington SO41

Alexandra, is an experienced Integrative Coach supporting her clients in overcoming their inner critic and reaching their full potential. She helps people to make the changes that they wish to make so that they can lead happier, healthier and more balanced lives.

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