Whenever I ask people : How are you? Often the reply is
“I am busy” or “I am crazy busy”. Very rarely do I hear “I am fine”, “I do a lot of things that I enjoy”. Neither do I see people trying to figure out why they are so busy and saying “I am feeling exhausted, I need help”.
How do you experience your busyness? Do you find that you are busy to return calls, meet people that matter, fold laundry, cook a meal, spend few minutes with your kids/spouses without something “so important” coming in between? Probably you are even too busy to get 8 hours of sleep.
Mysteriously though, you seem to always have time to read all whatsapp forwards and send them to others, spend long hours following up on other people’s lives, constantly be in front of the computer or phone, scrolling through facebook, twitter, Instagram, news.. the list goes on.
The Price of Being Too Busy
The price of being so busy is that you don’t get the time for self care. Ask yourself, if all your time is spent on the external world, where is the time to actually take care of yourself, and rejuvenate yourself for the next day and the day after?
When you get time to do other activities that are not related to work or duties, do you invest time in “yourself” or are you drowning in busyness?
Chances are, its the latter. Working hours are rarely defined anymore. Moreover, you are constantly consumed in your devices 24/7. You are probably focusing on “everything needs to be done right now” instead of preparing yourself and starting afresh the next day.
In a 2013 Boston Globe column, Dr. Susan Koven from Massachusetts General Hospital wrote:
“In the past few years, I’ve observed an epidemic of sorts: patient after patient suffering from the same condition. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, bowel disturbances, back pain, and weight gain. There are no blood tests or X-rays diagnostic of this condition, and yet it’s easy to recognize. The condition is excessive busyness.”
Many of you might be going through this syndrome. Probably, it initially started as a way of helping you make use of your time productively. However, if in recent times this is causing chaos in your mind and in the way you function with other people, you are probably too busy.
You may have difficulty engaging in fulfilling conversations without uttering the word “busy” or without getting busy during the conversation. You may find that your productivity is getting affected immensely at work, home and with self.
How Can You Make Time to Care for Yourself?
These are some good starting points to create some space for yourself amidst your schedule:-
- Be Aware of how often you are using the word “busy” – this will tell you first hand how busy you are, and how you feel about it.
- Try not to use the word ‘Busy’ as often: Whenever you notice that you’re about to say “I’m busy”, take a breath, pause. Constantly saying ‘I’m busy’ only perpetuates the pattern and prevents you from truly understanding the nature of that busyness. As the Buddha said, “what you think, you become”.
- Limit multitasking, increase ‘mono tasking’. Focus on one task instead of on three. Research has found that mono tasking is more efficient than multitasking, it helps you attend to each task better. Moreover, your mind remains clutter free and you immediately notice how much more systematic this feels!
- Delegate since it is important to prioritise Self – we overlook this one quite often. Remember, your workload is sapping your energy. Often, you make excuses to keep tasks to yourself because you believe that only you can do it best. However, giving others a chance too could help. It will help you focus on the things that will actually help you grow, or things that you actually want to do. Moreover, it will also help you build a resource pool of people who can support you in your workload, in the long run.
- Limit Distractions, One primary mode of distraction is the phone. Other avenues are television, internet surfing etc. Without your recognition or intention, they take away time and space. Keep some gadget free time in your day, even if it is just 10-15 minutes. This will allow you to mentally rest and reorient to the task at hand with greater focus. It goes without saying that this will also save your time!
- Make time to Pause, multiple times in a day – check in with yourself to how you feel and what you need in this moment. Maybe it is a glass of water, or a walk, maybe it is to look away from the screen for a few minutes!
- Be Mindful – when you pay attention to the present moment, you stay rooted to what is happening in the now, and get less swayed by thoughts and mental chatter.
- Sleep – an often undervalued process in current times, sleep helps you rejuvenate, neurologically and physically. Lack of shut eye time can be more harmful to mental health than you may imagine.
If it is daunting to incorporate all of these tips, pick one or two and get started. In a week or two, you will be able to tell the difference. The clutter will start to lessen. Space will begin to open up. Then, pick two more and integrate them in your routine. Keep this going until you feel more space in your day, in your mind and heart.
This post has been contributed by Nandita Sarma, counselor and psychologist at Inner Space.