Being Too Busy Isn’t Love
Sadly, being busy has been seen as a badge of honor and has become an indication of self-worth. Unfortunately, over booking your schedule and filling in every moment with something so you feel important or your family “can’t live without out me”, can have a negative effect on your physical and emotional health. Keeping overly busy can also make it difficult to maintain healthy and happy relationships.
Research has shown that our self-worth is linked to our perceived level of busyness. Those of us do too much do so because we feel needed, in demand and important which boosts our self-worth. Those of us who over schedule themselves, over work themselves and push themselves more and more each day, without quality leisure time, have been perceived as having a higher status. I am not sure where this started, but I would like to be one of the many who would like to end this thought process.
Do you find yourself eating your lunch over your keyboard in a desperate attempt to eek out yet one more email? Do you constantly book up your calendar each night or weekend to keep yourself busy? Are you giving more hours volunteering than you need to be? You may think you are multi-tasking and showing your friends and community how much, you love being a part of the “team”; however, you are just denying your mind and body some good quality downtime.
Being too busy is one of the biggest excuses for skipping workouts, creating nutritious meals, spending quality time with friends and downtime. When you are constantly on the go and frazzled, your mood, sleep and quality of life will suffer. The good news is that you can streamline and prioritize your schedule, so you are able to get all your work done and still have some down time every day.
If you fall into this status of being too busy, I want you to take a moment and be truly honest with yourself. Does being constantly on the go help define who you are? Are you truly busy, or does your schedule have to be full so that you feel significant and important? Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD and clinical psychologist in Chicago wrote two amazing books, “A Happy You” and “Better Than Perfect.” She explores why you may need to keep yourself busy and have everything be perfect in order to feel good about yourself and what to do to shift it.
Here are her thoughts, your to-do list is always there to keep you busy. If you have some big things not going well in your life, say your relationship with your spouse is not positive and loving or your job is no longer challenging, your mind can tell you, “I don’t have time to deal with this” or there is no way to slow down and focus on the bigger issues that really should be addressed because you have so many other things pulling for your attention. Or do you?
Here is what researchers are discovering, when you are in a frenzied state of go, go, go you may feel like you are productive. Unfortunately, the reality is, when you are this stressed out and always on the go, you will focus on the problems and obstacles instead of taking the time to create the solutions you truly need. You will have a difficult time prioritizing your tasks. Every task will seem just as important as the next one. During this whole scenario your cortisol (stress hormones) are pumping strong and flooding your body. This nonstop flow of cortisol will leave you overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally every day of your life. Staying busy becomes a way to avoid those painful thoughts, emotions, or situations that you really need to focus on to be able to grow and expand in your life.
Being busy is not necessarily connected to being productive. In fact, it usually has the opposite effect. If you are busy with a lot of things on your to-do list it doesn’t necessarily mean you are being productive. Many who are busy are not using their time efficiently and thus not being very productive. Being busy has more to do with how you occupy your time, where being productive is linked to what you were able to accomplish. The research has also linked the being busy mindset to those connecting their schedule to their self-worth. So, if you keep yourself busy and somewhat productive you are a better person.
Unfortunately, our society has glorified being busy and sometimes seems to encourage us to overextend to prove how valuable we are to our family, friends, and employer. The problem lies in the fall out from doing this. You will see an increase in anxiety, stress, sadness, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, guilt, hopelessness, and incompetence if you are not able to sustain all the obligations you committed to. If you equate your self-worth to how busy you are you will feel this impact more than others. You may feel depressed or angry at yourself for not being able to do it all and do it perfectly. This can lead to exhaustion, increase in stress, decrease in self-esteem, and can trigger depression, anxiety disorders and even substance use disorders.
Excessive busyness can trigger physical issues like insomnia, inflammation throughout the body, restlessness, headaches, compromised immune function, muscle tension/pain, fatigue, digestion issues, cardiovascular disease and even a change in your sex drive.
To stop the cycle, you may need to reframe your perspective. We actually have a lot of control over our daily tasks and once you realize that you can make decisions about how you spend your 24 hours your priorities will come to light. For example, if you find that you are missing your workouts or you are grabbing fast food for lunch take a moment and say out loud, “My health is not a priority in my life right now,” and see how that feels. Hopefully that lit a little fire in you to make some of these priorities in your weekly or daily routine. Self-love is key and usually is the missing piece in the life of a busy bee.
Learning to love yourself is one of the best ways you can support your mental health. It can be difficult, scary and nerve wracking if you still have doubts about yourself, but with daily practice you can build a healthy mind, body and soul.
How many of you have taken the time to stand in front of your mirror and recited the following at least six times, “Your name, I love you.”? If you have, congratulations you are incredibly brave and a little more enlightened than the rest of us.
Doing this one little act is very confronting, awkward and a bit scary, but it will give you a major push toward your self-acceptance. The key is to really gaze into your own eyes and be very meaningful in your words. This act actually brought me to tears, and still does. It is hard to not stare away or look at what is behind you in the mirror. Let it be raw and simple but do it.
What did you notice? What feelings came up? Did you believe yourself, or was there a tiny bit of doubt? Did you scoff at the notion? That is a sign that there may not be enough self-love in your life.
I am going to be brutally honest, if you cannot love yourself, how are you going to be able to embrace the love of another person, and be able to reciprocate that love? You are more likely to feel unworthy as you are longing for love and intimacy from another person. This is where conflict can show up in relationships.
When you love yourself first, life takes care of all the details. Everything else is minor compared to the acceptance of oneself. This takes practice, patience, and perseverance, but it is key in being an amazing human being.
The key is to fully love all the good, bad and ugly parts of yourself. Taking time to acknowledge that you are not perfect, but that you still love yourself no matter what is key to loving yourself deeply and truly. Self-acceptance is the foundation to living a complete life filled with joy, happiness, and authenticity.
First step in self-love:
Know your story of unworthiness. This may be raw but write down why you think you are unworthy. What do you think is “wrong” with you? Why wouldn’t someone want to love you? This may seem counterproductive, but we are getting raw here to make a point.
Your story of unworthiness is a story that has been assumed from others and may have been reinforced over time; however, this is not who you really are… and deep down you know it, but this “story” keeps playing like that movie reel in the background. Somehow it has become a repeated affirmation and a conceived narrative.
You are no more unworthy than the next person. We all have insecurities and challenges. The key is to not feed those doubts but instead to use your challenges to reinforce your authentic power and love of self.
One of my favorite quotes is from Rumi- “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Rumi
Psychologist Shirzad Chamine explains in his book Positive Intelligence that we create ten saboteurs and one of them is The Judge- whose opinion is mistaken for tough-love. The Judge continually finds faults within yourself through self-justifying lies such as “we are not worthy of love or respect by just being who we are.” When you are able to strip away the stories about who you think you are, underneath it you will uncover your authentic self and at its essence is pure love.
Sometimes we think that loving ourselves is selfish and we have been taught that it is not nice to be selfish. Loving yourself is seeing yourself as a whole, the good, bad and ugly parts of you. It is focusing more on what you know you are capable of rather than how people see you. It is knowing how to deal with your darkness and appreciate, accept and love it. It is knowing how to respond to the ugly parts of life and being one with them.
How much you love yourself is how peacefully you will live your life. How much you love yourself is how humbly you will live out your life and how much you love yourself is how gracefully you will live out your life.
Keeping yourself too busy will impact your self-esteem and have a harmful effect on your overall well-being if you are not practicing self-care or self-love. Schedule into your day, week, month those downtimes that make you feel like a priority. Manicures, pedicures, massages, piano or guitar lessons, reading a book, days out with friends, hiking, biking, take a photography class or visit a museum. If you can put them on the calendar you can commit to it like you would a doctor’s appointment. Deliberately resting and taking some good quality down time will significantly boost your quality of life.
You deserve to take time for yourself. This could mean planning and booking that two-week vacation to creating small mini weekend staycations. When you can do this, you remind yourself that you are worthy and valuable.
Here is how you can stop being so busy and give yourself more love:
1. Say no. Look at the areas of your life that deserve your time and focus. Most of us come up with relationships (significant other, family and friends); self-care; career. The next time someone asks you to volunteer your time see if the task falls into one of those categories. If it doesn’t foster a relationship you want, politely say no. If it doesn’t build your career, kindly say no. Will it help you become a better person? It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but this quick task allows you to not automatically say yes. Give yourself a time out. If you tend to be a people pleaser and say yes to too many things, you can politely say, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I am going to have to pass on this opportunity. Good luck finding someone else.” You don’t even have to explain. It is a beautiful way to give yourself a break while letting them know you appreciate their thoughtfulness.
2. Reschedule your schedule. There is no life rule that says you have to be scheduled down to the nanosecond with productive tasks, networking groups, parenting conferences, meetings, workouts or happy hours. If you don’t take time to schedule in your downtime your “hamster wheel” will spin out of control and you will fall off. The more you push and push the more inefficient and depleted you will become. Look at your schedule and see where you can remove one thing and replace it with some true downtime. Fill the time with sitting in your backyard watching the squirrels play or the clouds move instead of surfing on your phone. If you take time to read a book, make sure you aren’t thinking about your to-do list of what you need to make for dinner. If you are eating a meal, make sure the only thing in your hand is a utensil and not your phone. If you are practicing your piano or guitar, make sure you allow enough time to go through the song a few times and not rush the process. You may just discover that you seem to have more time in the day, and everything seems to get done. You don’t need to only do your down time on the weekends either. You can add in your downtime during a workday to break up the monotony and help boost your creativity and productivity. I like eating my lunch outside, without my phone and watch my chicken and the squirrels play while savoring my meal. Intentionally take a break after working on a project for two hours by indulging in a 20-minute nap or grabbing a cup of tea and savoring it. Take a brisk walk around your neighborhood for 10 minutes and use your senses to see three things the color purple, smell three different scents, touch three different textures, hear three different sounds and taste three different things on your tongue. If you wait to reward yourself at the end of the week, chances are good you will not do it. If you reward yourself every day, it will become easier and easier to offer yourself more self-love.
3. Set a digital rule. Digital time thieves like our social media sites can take up to 40 percent of a person’s downtime. Be mindful when you are checking your personal emails, texts or social media accounts. Set a time frame of 30 minutes on each one so you don’t become sucked into the rabbit hole of memes or recipes. When checking your email, make sure you are able to reply to the message right away, or if it needs more research, set a reminder to get back to it when you have the time. Go in with a purpose of checking, responding, deleting or forwarding what needs to be handled in that time frame you chose. There are some great online tools at minutesplease.com or rescuetime.com if you need some help controlling your online time.
4. Set your daily movement schedule. Any time you can move your body in some way you will be more creative, productive, efficient and mentally sharper. When you are too busy you tend to push your exercise to the sidelines because you think you just can’t fit another thing into your schedule. If you pre-schedule time in your day to move your body you will see this change. Many people think they have to run 10 miles, or the workout doesn’t count. Here in lies the problem. Set your exercise routine to your level. Instead of running 10 miles, do a brisk three mile walk around your neighborhood. Set a timer and do some high knees for two minutes. Find a quick YouTube video that offers a great all body workout in 15 minutes. Grab your bike and plot a route that takes you through a new park in your neighborhood. Start small and then add to it if you feel the groove and energized. You don’t have to go to the gym three days a week for an hour each time. That can seem overwhelming. Start with 15 minutes every other day and then increase it from there. A lot of those workouts you can do from home either before or after work and many you can do on your lunch break to give you a boost for your afternoon productivity.
5. Create a mindful moment. Each day, take time to practice mindfulness to connect with yourself, calm your racing mind and observe your thoughts without judgment. This act will help ground you and stop the feelings of overwhelm or burnout. Take a deep inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four and exhale for a count of four. Do this five times and then increase the inhale to six, hold for six and exhale for six. Repeat and inhale for a count of eight, hold for eight and exhale for eight. Start a gratitude journal writing down three things you are grateful for and one thing you accomplished each day. Repeat a favorite affirmation, poem, prayer, saying or mantra that resonates with you. For example, repeating “With less busyness in my life I am happier” or, “I no longer need to be busy to feel loved.” Determine what emotions you may be afraid of feeling when you keep yourself busy. It could be you feel unworthy if you are not kept busy. You may feel unlovable if you are not kept busy. It may be time to reach out to a therapist to help you tap into the root of what the emotion is that you are trying to avoid.
Work-life balance is an important part of creating a healthier environment for yourself. Each person will create a unique balance for themselves but in general, if you have work-life balance you will feel more in control, more comfortable, stable and happy in your life and how your time is spent.
How can you stop your busyness and add more love into your life?