You're on vacation with your family, and rather than enjoying the ocean view, you're ruminating over tasks stacking up at the office. As the number of items on your theoretical to-do list rise, so does your heart rate.
If that sounds familiar, you're not alone. There's even a term for that relaxation-induced anxiety: stresslaxing. According to the Urban Dictionary, stresslaxing is defined as "being so stressed that relaxing makes you more stressed because you're not working on what's making you stressed."
For some people, stresslaxing can turn into a vicious cycle. A person is stressed, so they try to relax. But the more they try to unwind, the more anxiety they feel. It perpetuates into a never-ending cycle.
One strategy experts recommend to break the cycle is to limit the number of decisions you must make while you aim to rest and rejuvenate. If that doesn't work, try relaxing in a nontraditional way, such as by playing board or video games. The goal is to force your thoughts in a new direction and give your brain a break from work.