Person A: How’s it going? Person B: I’m crazy busy, per usual. Person A: Yeah, me too. I don’t have time for anything else but work right now. Person B: I get it. I haven’t taken a real vacation in over a year. Person A: Well, that’s a good problem to have, right? If we’re busy, then we’re working.
How many times have you heard variations of the conversation above?
We wear our busyness as a badge of honor - taking pride in being overworked and sleep deprived and feel guilty for resting and taking care of ourselves. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes about numbing behaviors that we use to combat vulnerability. “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having 12-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”
While being uncomfortable with stillness is common, checking in with yourself allows you to show up for the world with renewed energy and poise. Shifting away from the culture of busyness and into balance requires work; a mixture of movement, mindful eating, and reflection.
As we power through this time, take notice of some of the central social constructs that continue to harm our health and well-being. One example is the idea that over giving, overworking, multi-tasking and always staying “plugged in” are actions to be applauded and revered. We associate time for ourselves with indulgence, weakness, or laziness.
In some cases, busyness numbs us from feeling and dealing with other issues; loneliness, unhappy relationships, and trauma. These are issues that can only be addressed when we sit in the uncomfortable silence and look at them. We overcompensate with productivity because we don’t want to face our inner needs, ie why downtime leaves us so uncomfortable.
The truth is that resisting the madness of over-activity takes work. It’s a labor of love to pause and plan time to exercise, eat healthily, and reflect every day. One way you can begin is to create a daily routine for yourself. You don’t have to get into the minutia of hourly tasks, but a checklist of things that need to be done everyday for optimal health. I have found that doing the following combination lends itself to better days:
At least 30 mins of exercise
Going to bed at a decent time (before 10 pm for me)
Consuming nutritious food and beverages
Taking time for contemplation (prayer, meditation, journaling, being out in nature)
Taking time for some creative expression (dance, art, cooking, journaling, writing)
Hold yourself accountable by rating yourself from one to ten on self-care. Are you doing the abovementioned things every day of the week? Twice a week? Not at all? If you have someone you can check in with weekly to hold you accountable, even better. It’s important to surround yourself with people that prioritize balance, not endless output. I’ve just started to do this and can say that rating myself increases my prioritization of my well-being and allows me to more directly connect how I’m feeling with how I’ve been treating myself.
Self-care is not an indulgence for those who have free time; it is essential to bringing ourselves (individually and collectively) back into sustainable alignment and balance.