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Why We Need to Stop Glorifying Being Busy

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Stop. Take a breath. How good does that feel? We are tired (literally) of the hustle culture that has become the norm in today’s society. Maybe it’s the need to look productive on social media or the guilt for not doing enough, but feeling the need to always be busy because that’s what everyone else is doing is ruining our health. 

When someone asks how I am, the first word that comes out of my mouth is “busy,” paired with a look that is exhausted and pleading for justification. I just can’t help it! How else would I describe working, running a start-up business and raising twin boys? The calendar is insane. However, there are so many other words that I could use that describe how I am – excited about new projects, happy to be spending time with my kids, living my best life. 

Both physically and mentally, glorifying being busy has added extra stress to our lives that we just don’t need. “Being busy is a disease of our time,” says Pedram Shojai, Oriental Medicine Doctor (OMD) and author of The Urban Monk. We love feeling important and needed as well as that weird pride that we get when people are impressed with how many things we are doing. But being busy has become the new normal and the increased stress and other health issues are the consequence.  

Social media has added to the problem, giving us a platform to compare our “busy” to how much other people are doing (or look like they are doing). For some reason (maybe it’s just human nature), our self-worth is determined by benchmarking ourselves against other people. We are also very concerned about what other people think of us. I don’t want Suzy over there to think I’m being lazy because I took the morning off to read, meditate and destress. 

When we glorify being busy, we tend to overextend ourselves which can lead to mental issues such as anxiety, stress, feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, sad, frustrated – the list goes on. When we are unable to finish our to-do list or have to cancel on plans, we can feel guilty and ashamed for letting people down or letting ourselves down. This vicious cycle causes chronic stress on our mental health which affects our physical health.  

Barely having enough time to get all the things done will usually cause you to make poor eating decisions. I know I have either skipped meals or opted for a quick pick up because I didn’t have time to make food to go. The gym is totally out of the question and sleep is cut down to a few hours to fit everything else in. The physical consequences can include muscle pain, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, inflammation, compromised immune system, fatigue and digestive issues (to name a few).  

How can we get out of this busy trap and take control of our time?  

  • The easiest thing to start with is tracking your time. You would be surprised by how much time you have leftover once work and sleep are accounted for. 
  • To get in the habit, schedule time or block off time that is dedicated to you-time where you don’t have to worry about being anywhere or getting anything done. Self-care is our favourite way to spend our time. 
  • Get enough sleep! It’s different for everyone but try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night. 
  • Take time to move. Listen to your body and choose an activity that your body needs. Maybe it’s a yoga class or maybe it’s a high-intensity boot-camp, whatever you’re feeling! 
  • Take a digital detox. Take time away from social media and be more present in your life especially with your loved ones. 
  • Redefine success. Success should also include your health and wellness, not just your productivity level. 
  • Stop saying you’re busy. When someone asks, take a minute to think about how you really are and don’t use the usual “I’m busy.”  

Choosing to relax, do activities you love and spending dedicated time with the people you love is good for your soul, your mental health and you will find that you actually have time. How do you take time for yourself to relax, reset and recharge?  

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