Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Why Relaxing Makes You Anxious

The astute writer Oliver Burkeman has coined a phrase that describes my everyday experience a little too well and I suspect it may describe yours too: productivity debt. The term represents the restless feeling that keeps nagging at us until we fulfill our daily duties.

Duties that not only relate to work, but all the things that we feel must be done by the end of the day. All because it will lead to a better tomorrow. A future where we hope to be on top of things and feel satisfied with our lives.

And yet, when the sky turns blue and the day restarts, so does our satisfaction of completing yesterday’s goals. It’s never enough. No matter how much stuff we got done. 

That’s because output isn’t actually our primary concern. What we really care about is maximizing our time. Nothing upsets us more than wasting a day. Waste too many days and you might ruin your entire life. 

Or so we figure.

So at the same time the rising sun upsets the dark, our productivity debt wakes up and upsets our peace. 

It’s a hilarious cosmic joke. Because the whole reason we feel obligated to make the best of our time is to feel happy and untroubled. Yet it’s precisely the pressure to make the most of our lives that makes us gloomy and troubled.

What a knee-slapper.

So what do you do if you can’t work and plan your way towards contentment? I’m not bigheaded enough to pretend like I have the answer, although I might be if I had more subscribers (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). But perhaps I can entertain you with a cheerful thought.

What if you were born content? Then you don’t need to accomplish things to find peace, then you do things for fun, to celebrate life, or to make life easier for others. 

It’s all a matter of perspective. Don’t you agree?

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach