We’ve all said things like:
Wow, this week was crazy.
I am already exhausted and it’s still morning.
I am just so busy.
Why are those sentiments so easily understood? We can all connect to being stressed and tired.
I learned a life lesson a long time ago that has become a part of my very DNA. When I meet with friends or am asked for advice, this lesson always seems to work its way into what I say to them.
Being busy should not be your normal. Being busy doesn’t make you more important than others. Being busy should not be your status symbol. Being busy and exhausted and stressed all the time means you’re doing something wrong.
(If you are currently going through a crisis of external forces – the loss of a loved one, a difficult medical diagnosis, difficulty adjusting to motherhood, family drama, etc – please ignore all of this and come back to read when your life is more settled. No need to heap any more “do this, do that” sentiments on yourself right now).
We may have different definitions (and preferences) of what a “busy” life looks like. But to me, you’re too busy if:
- You don’t have time to eat or plan for meals.
- You are constantly fighting low grade health issues (headaches, colds, flu, etc).
- You don’t sleep enough to feel rested in the morning.
- You don’t have time to do things you like.
- You feel like every minute of every day has to “count” or be productive.
- You don’t feel like you have time to prepare for important events, either personal or work-related.
Do we all have busy days? Yes. Do we all go through busy seasons? Absolutely yes. But if you have booked your day with commitments back to back, don’t be surprised when one day you just can’t get out of bed. It’s sad that it comes to this, but when my dear friends come to me with a crisis, I usually discover that they are:
- Not eating or drinking enough/well
- Not sleeping well
- Not resting enough
Now a good meal and a nap won’t exactly solve your problem but they will give you a new sense of energy and ability to seize the day again. Don’t use an emotional crisis as an excuse to stop taking care of yourself. No one else is going to force you to eat, go to the bathroom, and drink some water. You’ll have to decide to do that on your own.
We treat our bodies like machines yet we refuse to put any fuel or energy into them – only running them into the ground until we’re stuck. Your body is, in some ways, like a machine. You need food and water and sleep to function.
One of my friends recently commented that it seems like she gets sick every time she has a rare day off. I have noticed the same issue in my life. It’s because your body will grab any chance it gets to rest and recover from the pace of your lifestyle. The fumes of adrenaline (or coffee or energy drinks or whatever you use to keep going) have worn off and you’re left with what your body has left: nothing.
Are you making time to rest? Are you going to bed before midnight? Are you taking time to plan meals? Do you have a day of rest or have you dedicated portions of a day for rest? These are key questions to ask yourself when you’re facing that overwhelming feeling of “I just can’t do this anymore.”
I found that for me personally, I don’t do well when I schedule too many days with back to back commitments in a row. I don’t like rushing everywhere and running perpetually late. The issues has less to do with my actual schedule than how my schedule makes me feel. We are strong – we can handle multiple things going on at once! But no one is designed to live in crisis management mode all the time. If you’re the driven, ambitious, go-getter type, you will always struggle with this. The key is to find the balance in accomplishing your dreams and taking care of yourself (and your family) at the same time. #timemanagement
It’s normal to go through times of stress – a big project, a big change in life, a break up – these things will happen. But stress is very damaging to our emotional and physical health. We should never seek after more stress or wallow in it. Stress makes you sick.
I am reading a book by an author I love and in one section I have highlighted, she promised a young girl she was mentoring to be an example of rest to the younger generation. She immediately regretted this promise because she had no clue how to do it! If you’re like me, when you get a day off work, you don’t know what to do. Maybe you sleep in a little, eat a late breakfast and then wonder what to do with the rest of your day. This points to something wrong – we are obsessed with busyness and in some twisted way, we identify the feeling of stress as “actually doing something with our lives” and “this is just what it takes to accomplish my dreams.”
Being busy makes us feel needed. It makes us feel important. Who doesn’t want to feel valued or essential? But is using your job, your difficult boss, a dysfunctional relationship, or a variety of other stressful situations as ways to feel needed and loved worth the cost to your physical and emotional health?
I think not.
It’s time to set some boundaries. It’s time to take a nap. It’s time to take a vacation. It’s time to start running our lives against instead of letting them run us.
How do you define “busy”? Have you found the being busy or stressed is your normal mode of being?