Why can’t I relax? (+3 ways to cope)

This article will center on discussing why you can’t relax. It will also give you some tips on what to do in your everyday life to help you relax.

Why can’t I relax? 

If you feel you are unable to relax, there may be some reasons for that. Let’s discuss what they are.

Your levels of dopamine may be too high 

Some people, like ones that have a diagnosis of ADHD, will often have low levels of dopamine, a famous neurotransmitter. Because of that, they may put themselves through extremely tense situations, since they believe that relaxing is a  synonym for being bored.

These people may go to extreme situations such as bungee jumping, finding conflict in their relationship, or even just talking to people randomly on the street as a way to improve their dopamine levels. When they get the rush of it, and it reaches its highest level, the person may feel incapable of relaxing. 

The part of your brain that deals with emotions may be way too active 

A person that has the emotional side of the brain working too hard can often be one that will deal with anxiety or even depression. People that have this pattern of brain work can often find that making themselves busy is a good way to distract from their emotions.

But this is just a distraction and once you see yourself free, and with nothing else to do, it is likely that those things you fear will just resurface, and sometimes even stronger.

Your sympathetic nervous system may be working too much 

Our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is what causes the fight or flight response when we are anxious. There is the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) that is important to balance that reaction, and it is what will make you relax.

When a person is healthy, the two systems will work together and balance each other. But when you are dealing with a lot of stress in your life it can make it difficult for the relaxing system to work in the best way it can. 

It gets to a point that when you experience Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the SNS can put you through a cycle of agitation, making it impossible for you to relax.

Thinking about relaxing makes you anxious 

Some people may think of relaxation as another chore they should do in their day. It is not something that they will do naturally, and it doesn’t come easy to them. Which can make it harder to do. This can be common to people that have a more perfectionist personality trait.

An example of that may be a person that is making themselves take a day off from work. In that situation, knowing you will be away from work one day can make you more stressed about all the things you need to do and deliver before it, making it difficult for you to relax.

You are always paying attention to stressful situations

The way you see the world, and what you choose to see of the world can also be connected to how difficult it is for you to relax. People that spend more time looking at negative things, reading negative news, books, or even watching more negative movies can have a harder time relaxing.

That is because as you expose yourself to all that, you will ignite the fear system in your brain, making you stay aware all the time of the possibility of something terrible happening to you.

What should I do if I can’t relax? 

If you feel you have been unable to relax, here is what you can do.

Try to understand why you are tense

If you are constantly tense and feel that you can’t relax, the first thing you need to do is embrace what is happening to you. This doesn’t mean accepting your inability to relax, and live as it is, but simply that you should empathize with how you feel, so you can begin to deal with it.

Judging that this part of you is bad, or even wrong can make it harder for you to cope since it creates a conflict. Opening yourself up to listen to what is happening inside you, and embracing it can give you the chance of understanding your needs, and giving you a chance to relax.

Take some breaks

Nowadays it may be so difficult to relax. We are bombarded with information all the time, causing us to be constantly aware. Because of that, you must make a point out of taking a few breaks during your days. 

Get yourself 20 to 30 minutes in which you will not look at your phone, or read the news, but simply relax. During this period you can do yoga, meditation, or pretty much anything that will help you focus and care more about yourself.

 Plan a getaway 

Taking time from your daily routine to breathe different air can be a great way to relax. In that sense, planning a getaway can be extremely positive. It can also help you in having something positive to look forward to. 

But keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be a long trip. You can just choose to go to a place in your town which you have never been to before, take a weekend away, or if it is possible, even go on a holiday. Find what type of getaway is the one that relaxes you the most, and focus on that.

Take some time to breathe 

Nowadays we are always in such a rush that we forget the most basic thing: how to breathe properly. That is a useful thing you can do when you feel like you can’t relax. There are many breathing exercises you can look for, and even meditation itself, and yoga will help you focus more on your breathing, and at the moment, making it easier for you to relax.

Do things that bring you joy 

When you are doing something you love, even if it takes physical effort, it is still something that can help you relax. That is because as you are doing the thing you can begin to feel happier, making you calmer. It can be cooking, spending time with the people you love, or even taking a photography class. The important thing is to allow yourself to do it.

Think of all the moments to relax

Relaxation shouldn’t be something you would do only once every few months. But it is not something you can focus on during your whole day. What you should do is try to understand what kind of relaxation you can have during your day-to-day life.

What is a different type of relaxation you can do once a month, and what is the type of relaxation you may need once a year? Having these ideas can help you bring relaxing moments to your life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Why can’t I relax? 

What is relaxation-induced anxiety?

Relaxation-induced anxiety can be defined as the inability of a person to just let go and relax when doing some activities, be it hanging out with friends, watching a movie, or even meditating. This can make the person even more stressed, and agitated.

It is not seen as a condition, but rather a sign of intense anxiety. And it can be quite common for people that struggle with it. Having relaxation-induced anxiety can be extremely frustrating for the person, and they can feel hopeless that they will be able to find a way out of their anxiety.

This can happen because when the person with anxiety is doing a relaxing activity, they can feel like they are losing control, or that they will lose control over their body when they are relaxed. It is also possible that the person finds it difficult to relax since doing so can bring to their mind all the things they have been preventing themselves from thinking about.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety?

The 3 3 3 rule for anxiety is an activity one can do when they feel anxious to take themselves out of that moment. It can be done as many times as you need it and is recommended to anyone in need. So when you feel that anxiety is taking a toll on you, the first thing you can do is take a deep breath.

After that, you should try to name three things that you hear in your surroundings. Once you have done that, you should try to name three things you see around you, and finally, three of your body parts.

As you do that, you will remove your thoughts from the ones that were making you anxious, find a way to calm yourself down, and focus more on the present.

What does anxiety feel like?

Anxiety feels like you are constantly worried about something, and you feel like you can’t relax. This causes you to have a feeling of impending doom, and the stress that comes with it can have a lot of impact on the person’s body. 

Their heart rate will go high, as well as their breathing, and they can feel dizzy, experience shaking, or even numbness of the limbs. Aside from all of the physical symptoms, anxiety can make you feel like you can control your worries, and at some point, because it is all so uncomfortable, you can begin to avoid places or situations that trigger your anxiety.

Does anxiety ever get better?

Although anxiety is considered a chronic condition that doesn’t have a cure, it is important to highlight that there is a treatment for it, and in that, it does get better. But if you don’t go through the proper treatment, it is likely that, with time, your anxiety will only get worse.

So if you are struggling with anxiety, make sure to look for professional support to manage its symptoms, understand the root of it, and how to cope with it more positively.

How can I stop overthinking?

First of all, to stop overthinking, you should try to identify the negative thought patterns, and try to get a hold of what they keep trying to make you believe. Working towards letting go, and focusing more on the present can help you stop overthinking.

Learning how to deal with your emotions, and working towards finding the solutions for what is happening can make it all a lot easier. Aside from that, you should work towards learning the difference between intuition, and your fears.


This article explained what are the main causes making it impossible for you to relax. Aside from that, the article showed what you can do to make yourself relax.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.



5 Reasons Your Brain (and You) Can’t Relax