Imagine you have an afternoon off, and you can sit down and enjoy a show on Netflix. You sit down and put on a show, sit back, and relax… or so you think. Quickly, questions begin to arise in your head such as, “Should I start on the laundry?” “Are the dishes done?” “What am I making for dinner?” “Do I need to go to the grocery store?” Thoughts such as these fill your mind with what you could be doing instead of watching a show and relaxing. You start to feel guilty for sitting down and not being productive. You can no longer relax and you have to do something in order to make the feeling of disappointment in yourself go away. 

Productivity guilt or productivity anxiety is a real thing. It is something that is more common than people think, but it is not often talked about. This constant nagging that you’re not doing enough or you’re not “worthy” of sitting down to enjoy time for yourself can take a toll on someone’s body and mind. We could ask for help, but who does that, right? In a Stanford article by Xuan Zhao, she states, “Some people may fear that asking for help would make them appear incompetent, weak or inferior. Others are concerned about being rejected, which can be embarrassing and painful, while others may be concerned about burdening or inconveniencing others.” As women, we are already trying to fight for equal pay and equal rights as a whole, and asking for help is hard on us because we want people to think we can do it all on our own. What we need to realize is that it is OK to ask for help, and it is OK to take time for ourselves and relax. 

I say this because I have struggled with this myself. I was a single mother of five children, and I felt like I could do it all without any help. I was working two full-time jobs and still trying to make time to coach a Jr. Jazz team, take kids to practices and go to band concerts. I felt like if I was not doing something, I was a failure as a mother. I could not sit and relax – I would get too anxious and nervous. I didn’t want my children to see my struggles and I decided it was time to ask for help. To my surprise, people were more than willing to help, and all I needed to do was ask. Things became more manageable and I am so thankful for the people I have around me who truly care. I still struggle with this every now and again, but there are a few things that have definitely helped me: 

  1. Accept that none of us are perfect: Yes, I know this probably sounds like something out of a self-help guide, but it’s true. We need to understand that although we may have a long to-do list, there will always be things we are adding on. Instead of focusing on the long list of items to do, reward yourself for accomplishing what you could for the day. Take yourself out for ice cream (yes, even in 20-degree weather), enjoy some time for YOURSELF, unwind and relax. You’re a trooper and definitely deserve it!
  2. Make rest a priority: We may think that taking time to relax and enjoy time for ourselves is wasting time or being unproductive, but what about your body? Your body needs love and care as well. The laundry can wait and dishes can wait, just don’t forget about you. In order for you to be at your best, you need to rest. 
  3. Learn that it’s OK to ask for help: I know, you want to be able to do everything. It’s understandable, but be realistic as well. We are human and we all need help every once in a while. Let’s work on the taboo that has become asking for help. We are a community and we can rely on each other to help each other succeed.

This is not something that is easy, nor something that will resolve quickly. It’s a process, but as long as the feelings of anxiety and nervousness diminish little by little, we are on the right track! Let’s work hard, but also enjoy life. We only have one, so let’s make the best of it!

About Lorena Martinez

Lorena was born in Lima, Peru before moving to Barcelona, Spain for a few years and then finally settling with her family in Utah. She is an Utah Valley University graduate and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Family Studies. Lorena has been working in customer service for 15 years and she thoroughly loves working with people. She is presently at the new Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City as a Sales Manager. When Lorena is not working she enjoys spending time with her 5 kids, traveling, or coaching Jr. Jazz Basketball.