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The “Day Off” Guilt


It's amusing (or should I call it rather sad?) how a sense of guilt immediately creeps in whenever I decide to take a day off.

Despite needing rest and being so close to burnout, a part of me feels uneasy whenever I'm not engaged in work.

Perhaps my feelings are caused by the societal conditioning that constantly emphasises the importance of productivity and the notion that time spent not working is time wasted.      

This is because we live in a world that glorifies busyness and rewards those always on the go – the first to get promoted and the first candidates for professional diseases.

As a result, the idea of taking a break can feel foreign and even indulgent.

But deep down, I know that this guilt is unfounded. I feel relief. Not having to constantly check my e-mail every few seconds or being always on the go makes me feel like a heavy burden is taken away from my chest.

Taking time off is not only beneficial but also necessary. It allows me to recharge, reset my head and body, and gain a fresh perspective.

During these moments of relaxation, I often find inspiration, new ideas, and a renewed sense of motivation. So, instead of succumbing to the guilt, I embrace the value of resting.

I remind myself that taking a day off is not a sign of slacking off or laziness but rather a conscious decision to prioritise Myself and my life beyond professional goals.

Taking time off allows me to engage in activities that bring me joy, spend time with loved ones, or indulge in much-needed rest.

In fact, by allowing myself to take breaks and recharge, I am ultimately enhancing my creativity in the long run. I can bring my best self to work with a clearer mind and a greater sense of fulfilment. So, the next time I take a day off, I will consciously let go of the guilt and fully embrace the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate.

The guilt about taking a break can be attributed to various societal conditioning factors.

Here are a few that contribute to this feeling:

1. The Cult of Productivity: In many societies, productivity is strongly emphasised, and one's worth is tied to how much work one can accomplish. This mindset creates constant pressure to be busy and productive, making it difficult to justify taking time off.

2. Workaholic Culture: In some cultures, being a workaholic is seen as a badge of honour, not an addiction as it is. People who work long hours and sacrifice personal time are often admired and praised. This cultural norm can make individuals feel guilty for prioritising their well-being over work.

3. Fear of Falling Behind: In a competitive world, there is a fear of falling behind or missing out on opportunities if one takes time off. The constant need to stay ahead and keep up with others can lead to guilt when considering taking a break.

4. Perceived Expectations: Individuals may feel pressured to meet perceived expectations from colleagues, superiors, or themselves. They may worry about being judged or seen as lazy if they take time off, even if there are no explicit expectations to work continuously.

5. Lack of Empathy Towards Personal Life: The boundary between work and personal life becomes blurred, making it challenging to prioritise personal time without feeling guilty.


Recognising that these societal conditioning factors are not necessarily healthy or sustainable is essential.

And taking time off and recharging ourselves is the key to becoming our best.



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