An Accredited Member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society, Julie Graduated with distinctions from S.A. College of Botanic Medicine and Natural Therapies Pty Ltd. Professional Qualifications include: Naturopathic Doctor, Herbal & Homoeopathic Practitioner: Diet and Nutritional Medicine: Remedial & Therapeutic... more
How many times have you turned down an invitation to a social activity or to just do something for fun because you just feel too busy or overwhelmed by what you already have to do?
What is your answer when asked the question, “How are you?” Your reply could be being “busy”.
It seems all too often in today’s world almost everyone is just too busy. Busy being the new status quo for “Just leave me alone”. “Can’t you see I don’t have time for this?” It's like it has become somewhat of a competition that being busy has become an obsession or statement as to some type of success label. An obsession almost of self-importance because if you aren’t busy then you must be a lazy non-achiever.
Even if you love what you do, putting in long extended hours doing it without any integration of fun and spending time being with your family/friends, or allowing yourself time to just be, not always having to achieve but to give yourself permission and time to enjoy just who and where you are, can cause stress. If this time isn’t programmed into your life, then the continual busyness and pressure to achieve will cause stress hormone levels to become and remain high. This then will set you up for a host of health concerns. You would have heard of the term – “People working themselves to death.” Every job, career, or business, even if this is your greatest passion and love, will have various levels of stress. Doctors and health professionals are continually warning people about how too much busyness leads to serious health problems such as anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, and heart attacks.
This lifestyle of busyness can come about quite gradually without realizing just how out of balance your life has become. You keep telling yourself things like: “People need me”: “What I do makes a difference”: Then there is the belief that as you continue to earn more money, more money that you come to believe you need. In actual fact, if you were to step back and reassess, you may well find that you don’t need as much money as you think or believe you need.
Then as the busyness increases so does the lack of exercise, not eating nutritional and healthy food, not getting enough sleep because you are always thinking ahead of what you “must” do next.
This then fosters the problem that you become too busy to be healthy. Then you begin to feel lousy, tired, lethargic, moody, distancing yourself from people and becoming less productive. You become overly frustrated because you aren’t accomplishing the things that you need to do.
So why do so many of us do this,? It is fast becoming a huge problem with women taking up major roles in the corporate world. Burning the candle at both ends, so to speak, in the vortex of busyness to point of exhaustion and then the gradual breaking down physically and emotionally of their bodies.
Everyone needs nurturing, to be loved, and to have people to love back. This is the very core of existence because without this, the human body or person will shrivel up to only a resemblance of who they are or are to be.
This “Being of Busy” is an addiction that can be as challenging to bring to a stop as other addictions such as excessive consumption of alcohol, shopping, cigarette smoking, the continual need to work. As with any addiction it has become a way of life in order to escape or numb yourself from heartache, pain or the feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness.
In our Western society a high value has been put on being busy. You have been conditioned to believe that being busy equates to being a good person, worthy, successful, and important.
So how has all this busyness come about and how did you become conditioned with it? You may have had parents who worked long hours, were always engaged in endless jobs, chores, and work. They may have exercised to the extremes on the weekends because of their job of sitting at a desk all week. Or maybe like me, my parents didn’t ever really push themselves, lived a fairly sedentary life with my mother never holding down a job. This made me feel that I needed to do more.
So can you see how conditioning can begin even at an early age, putting patterns and thoughts into your subconscious as to later then the decisions you go on to make?
If you are not busy or you are taking time to rest, be happy, enjoy your family, there is a fear of being perceived as lazy or a failure. So therefore engaging in the balancing activities of rest, happiness, and being has you feeling guilty.
But for most of you, as you grow, older these demands that you continue to place on yourself are not in line with your changing values and needs. These being taking time to prepare healthy meals, going for walks in nature, spending quality time with friends and family.
As I am sure that you can see by now that the toll that this busyness takes on you is high, the biggest challenge for most of us is in changing this negative habit and learning how to stop being busy.
For many it can take a major crisis such as a health problem, meltdown, or nervous breakdown to stop this continence of busyness.
Let's look at ways to stop this busyness.
Without a major crisis to bring balance back to life. Without bringing harm and devastation to your life.
There is no one thing or anything that works for everyone when it comes to developing a healthy life balance between the continual busyness to one of relaxation, happiness, and health.
Many times, people will need to work long hours or several jobs to support their families. This is very much dependent on personal stamina. Depending what is going on at the time of your life, the permission for busy is OK. However, there will still need to come a time that the busyness will have to be changed and brought into balance. Otherwise, it will wear you down and bring about devastating problems for you.
- Stop saying “I am too busy.” By repeatedly saying that you are busy, too busy, you are setting yourself up for being unable to slow down and to some extent fuelling your mind with the fact that everything is just too much. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Your words become your actions; your actions become your habits.” Break the habit of saying you are busy.
- Stop saying yes to everything. It is so easy to fall into the trap of becoming a people-pleaser. That is, if someone asks something of you, your automatic response is to say “Yes”. This doesn’t mean that you have to become difficult or never do anything for anyone. But it is about pacing yourself, understanding your priorities, and allowing your answer to fit with that. It is OK to say “no” kindly but firmly without making excuses or playing the busy answer.
- Don’t become a time magnet: I don’t mean that you run late when making appointments, social engagements, or being late for work. Don’t wear a watch. I am not advocating that you be late for work, social commitments or events. Don’t schedule more things into your day than you can physically or emotionally handle. Only have one or three things per day that has to be at a set time. Put these into your phone calendar with a reminder a half an hour before. This way you will naturally slow down. You will feel more thoughtful and begin to plan your days and plan out your life more effectively. This will allow unnecessary things to fall by the wayside, allowing you to feel more in control, and able to handle your day’s events. Your body and biological processes function with a seasonal and daily rhythm by living less by the clock. This means cell phones, planners, to-do lists, checking emails, apps and even playing mindless games. When this is stopped, or monitored into a scheduled time or two during the day, all of a sudden, your life has become less busy.
- Cancel or don’t accept unnecessary meetings or appointments. If it is a meeting or an appointment that isn’t directly associated with what you are doing or is necessary for well-being, then it is OK to cancel or not attend or make the appointment. You don’t have to give an excuse. If it doesn’t sit right in your gut and it isn’t vital to the next breath you are going to take, then it is OK to cancel or postpone the meeting or appointment. Plan to attend meetings only if the agenda calls for making decisions and assigning tasks for follow-up. Be sure that you and the people involved understand the agenda or purpose of the meeting to help with decisions and task assignments to be made easier and more effectively. If a meeting or an appointment doesn’t meet these arrangements, then remove yourself. This way, other people within the group or team will appreciate your honesty and understand that for a meeting to take place, all you want is to know what it is about and the purpose.
- Make to-do lists and prioritize. Creating a to-do-list and having it be successful can be daunting and somewhat of a challenge. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your daily to-dos don’t exceed ten items. Even this can be a bit too much, depending on the amount of time required for each to do item. So it is about being aware of what needs to be done that day without fail, what can be delegated, and what can be divided up between other days, months and so on. You may well decide to do the washing but need your husband or children to hang it out.
- The reason for the list: The things that you have in your mind that need doing can be overwhelming, so by narrowing it down and prioritizing, you will actually accomplish more and the things that aren’t a matter of life and death will wait, moving to a weekly or a long-term list. For example, if you have a deadline where something is due tomorrow, but you have a long list of small things such as vacuuming, grocery shopping, and taking out the rubbish ahead of finishing your project, you will end up working longer hours and placing more stress on yourself than necessary. So finishing the project is a priority, then perhaps the rubbish and then the other small jobs can be delegated or done throughout the week.
- Be sure not to confuse goals with tasks. Goals take time and are part of your big picture, tasks are the things that you put into place to achieve your goals. Once again, these are done over a period of time incrementally. Prioritize what must get done today.
- Play, have fun, and act like a child. You have heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine.”
Playing, adding humor to your day, and acting like a child is all about finding fun just in everyday moments. It is a known fact that by including more fun into your daily life, your health will improve. When people become overly stressed, there is a tendency to give up on things that they enjoy because of a level of guilt in that "I haven’t finished that project" or "I haven’t earned enough money" or 101 excuses to eliminate fun from life.
Playing around and having fun is both an important source of relaxation and stimulation. There is scientific evidence that shows laughter, having fun, and engaging in play can relieve stress, increase brain function, and improve creativity while improving relationships. So make it part of your daily to do list to include fun. Do something just because you can, not because you have to. Go to the park or shopping mall during your lunch break and watch small children. Go watch a happy, loving, and fun movie. Read a great book. During life it can become so easy to forget what it is like to have fun because so many serious things have and are happening. But there is also a lot of great things that are also taking place; you just need to take a step back and see these. Having fun helps you to feel young and vibrant. George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
- Get better quality sleep. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting more hours, unless you are sick or not getting enough. Improving your quality of sleep is vital for a healthy nervous system, energy, and prevention of premature aging and disease. It is important to firstly to go to bed at the same time and to wake up at the same time each day. Turn off your TV, computer, phone and Wi-Fi at least 15 minutes before you go to bed, and stop eating and drinking anything with sugar, caffeine, or alcohol at least 2 hours before bed. The following day you will feel more alert, accomplish tasks more easily, you will feel happier and in able in a better mood, and you'll have energy for the things you love.
- Be the first to give yourself praise. The majority of us are all struggling with our own identity and the question of “Are we good enough?” Most of the time if you are waiting for praise to come externally, you may well be waiting a long time. It will be spasmodically and at random. I know it used to be said that “Self-praise” was no recommendation. However, if you are truly living in alignment to your values and are proud of who you are and the things you are doing, you deserve to praise yourself. This isn’t about getting all egoistical, but feeling good about you and what you are doing. Not that you are better than anyone else, but that each of us are as good as one another with our own unique talents, gifts, and attributes that we bring into the world.
- A major part in breaking this busy cycle is firstly the belief that you are enough, allowing yourself to feel successful for just being you, and to give yourself a pat on the back each day for the things you have accomplished no matter how small you may think they are. You did it! When we practice receiving in this way, we are able to move away from the thoughts and feelings of “There is too much to do. I will never get it all done” and toward knowing that “I am enough.” Acknowledge your accomplishments regularly and your feelings of unworthiness will melt away. You can do this by placing your hands over your heart and offering yourself praise. And remember when it’s all said and done, you don’t want your tombstone to read “She never got it done.”
- Love, forgiveness and kindness: These are the very core foundations to success and require very little doing, but a great deal of being. Each and every one of us has made mistakes, spoken how we may not have wanted to speak, done what we may not have wanted to done, been someone we may not have wanted to be. Understanding this and realizing these things is the foundation to change and becoming the person who we do want to be! So love yourself, forgive yourself, and be kind to yourself. This in turn will allow you to do this with others, bringing peace, harmony, love, and kindness within your world.
Further Support: How Not to Let Stress Get the Better of YOU!