If someone displays these 8 traits, they have trouble relaxing and letting go

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You would think that relaxing and letting go would be something that comes naturally for all of us. But you’d be surprised at how hard it is for some people. 

Tell them to “just relaaax…”, and they’ll stress even more. 

I do think that it happens to the best of us, especially when we care too much. We’ve all worried about something and couldn’t let go of those worries even if we tried. 

But for some people, it goes beyond the occasional stressing over an important task or concern. For them, worrying has become a way of life that the idea of relaxing and letting go is incredibly hard to do. 

How can we help? Well, it all begins with knowing the signs that someone has trouble relaxing and letting go. Let’s take a look at 8 traits you’ll find in these worrywarts:

1) They are overplanners and over-organizers

The first thing to remember about people who can’t relax and let go is that they always need to stay on top of a situation. 

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s definitely wise to have concrete plans and to be more organized. The problem is when someone goes overboard and obsesses over every single detail. 

Basically, this is about a need for control – the opposite of letting go

With people who can’t relax, there’s also a tendency to catastrophize. A lot of what-ifs, with many of them bordering on end-of-the-world vibes. Like the sky would fall if something didn’t go according to plan! 

2) They’re always in a rush

Look, I get it, we all hustle to survive. But at some point, we also need to slow down. 

That’s the difference with people who have trouble relaxing and letting go. They just can’t slow down. 

They might stop rushing for the day, but trust me, their minds are definitely still churning and doing a hamster wheel run. 

I know how pressing that rush can be because I used to be this way. Back when I was younger, I could go on and on at work without even stopping for lunch. 

Looking back, I don’t know how I could be that unkind to myself. All I could focus on was getting all my tasks done as quickly as I could. 

I don’t know why I couldn’t relax for a minute and lay them down for a while. They weren’t going anywhere, after all!

Well, I guess you can tell the ending of this story – burnout. I ended up with a thyroid problem because I took all that stress and just ran with it without slowing down.

3) They rarely take breaks or vacations

And when they do, they still can’t relax! 

My mom is exactly like this. I’d take her to the beach but she’d still be fretting. While sprawled on a beach chair with a piña colada in hand. 

And even if she wasn’t saying anything, I’d look over and see her jaw twitching – a tic she has developed from decades of worrying and un-relaxing – and I just knew that mind of hers was on an endless worry loop again.

If I tell her to relax, she’ll sit up and treat it like a task she needs to focus on. And because she can’t do it on command, it becomes doubly hard to relax. Talk about being counterproductive! 

I mean, if you can’t chill while on a beach on a perfect, sunshiny day…then letting go is obviously an alien concept. 

This brings me to my next point…

4) They are restless

Naturally, with all those thoughts spinning around in their heads, people who can’t relax are restless. 

This can show up through: 

Their overactive minds just won’t let them rest! As a result…

5) They are always tired

Not knowing how to relax creates a huge, and I mean HUGE, mental load. So huge that it has physical manifestations. A feeling of exhaustion, to begin with.

And according to the American Psychological Association, if this is left unchecked, it can go beyond being merely tired to more concerning issues, such as: 

  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath and rapid breathing
  • Heart disease
  • Weaker immune system
  • Digestive issues

In short, not relaxing and letting go accelerates the wear-and-tear of our bodies. Let that be a word of warning to those who don’t take measures to guard their mental health. 

6) They have a negativity bias

Remember what I said earlier about catastrophic thinking? That’s one example of how people who can’t relax have a highly active negativity bias. 

Now, the negativity bias isn’t exactly a bad thing. We all have it because our brains are wired for it in order to protect us. To help us survive. 

The problem is people who can’t let go give it too much power. Seeing the world from only in a negative light keeps them from seeing the good things. 

Plus, it can trigger their fight-or-flight response. No wonder they can’t relax!

7) They are highly critical of themselves and others

Once again, it’s the negativity bias at play here. Like I said, it’s hard to see the good stuff when you’re all zeroed in on the bad. 

Aside from that, people who can’t relax tend to have a perfectionist streak. Remember, they can’t let go until everything’s perfect. 

Unfortunately, their high expectations extend as well to other people. So, it’s not uncommon for them to be critical and judgmental of others

They’re the type who can’t just sit back and enjoy a meal because it arrived a few minutes later than expected. 

They can’t see what’s going right – even when things are going well, they’d find something to nitpick and complain about. 

Yes, even on a beach with the lulling rhythm of the ocean right there. Where you’re supposed to do nothing but let your hair down and close your eyes in bliss.  

The result? Tension. 

Not to mention strained relationships. It’s hard to build a positive relationship with someone who tends to find faults rather than appreciate the good side. 

8) They neglect self-care

As you can see, not knowing how to relax is in itself a form of neglect. Of neglecting oneself. 

When I was right in the thick of it and unable to chill, self-care was nowhere on my list of things to do. My days were packed with tasks, obligations, and a relentless pursuit of perfection. 

I put my own well-being on the back burner, convinced that everything else was more urgent and more important.

Unfortunately, this isn’t sustainable and I had to figure out a better way to live my life. 

The first of which was to slow down (it took a doctor to tell me this). So simple, yet for people who can’t relax, it’s incredibly hard. 

If this is something you struggle with, I suggest doing the following: 

  • Reevaluate your priorities. Not everything in life has to receive the same level of attention and energy. Figure out what matters most and focus on that. 
  • Start practicing mindfulness exercises. Meditation and deep breathing can help with that. 
  • Eat slowly. This might sound weird but it’s a very effective way of learning how to be mindful. 
  • Accept your limitations. No, you can’t control everything. So why bother? Control your own responses and leave it at that. Believe me, the sky won’t fall if you fail at something. 
  • Practice good mental hygiene – challenge the negative thoughts that creep into your mind. You can simply watch them pass by, and you certainly don’t have to accept them. 
  • If the worries and anxiety are too invasive and hard to push past, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Therapists and coaches can give you the tools and strategies you need to finally break through. 

Final thoughts

Believe it or not, learning how to chill is an art. The pressures of the world have so distorted our ways of thinking that we’ve come to equate busyness with productivity and success. 

In other words, if you’re not worrying about something or hustling, you’re not caring enough. 

But that isn’t true at all. Because here’s the truth that matters most – living a balanced life is about being selective. 

Choose wisely what you spend your energy on. Let the rest go. Set and enforce boundaries with yourself and others. 

Then you’ll discover how relaxing and letting go is the most radical act of self-care and self-preservation there is. 

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