Life gets busy, and gets busy fast. Between work, carting kids to and from school and their activities, errand running, church, volunteering, the schedule gets packed, and gets packed fast. Even think about when someone you run into or say hello to asks you how you are, and you respond with “busy, just busy”. See the trend? One of the biggest complaints of my clients, both adults and teens is “I’m too busy”. We fill our life with so much stuff, some stuff is great stuff, some stuff is responsibilities, and some stuff leaves us feeling drained.
Being busy had and has become the new norm of doing life. However, this busy, fast paced, fuel up on caffeine, say yes because you don’t want to miss out, is coming at a cost. I recently read the book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer, and he went over some symptoms of what he calls “hurry sickness”.
- Irritability – easily annoyed and frustrated, feeling on edge, impatience
- Hypersensitivity – very sensitive, easily hurt, letting something little ruin your day
- Restlessness – not being able to relax, difficulties focusing and just being; feeling as if you have to be doing something
- Workaholism (or non stop activity) – working and packing your schedule so that there isn’t time to stop or break, leaving yourself out of gas with nothing left for those around you (family, friends)
- Emotional numbness – not experiencing your emotions or other’s; bypassing them and feeling little to nothing, leaving you out of touch with yourself and others
- Out of order priorities – not doing the things you really want to do; perhaps packing the kids schedule with sports and activities, leaving little time for family time
- Lack of care for your body – not getting the sleep, exercise, rest your body needs; struggling to find time to fuel your body with the nutrition that it needs
- Escapist behaviors – binge watching show after show, scrolling endlessly on your phone, using alcohol or drugs to avoid pain or discomfort
- Slippage of spiritual disciplines – for people with faith, not engaging in church, prayer, growing in your faith
- Isolation – disconnecting from family, friends, co workers, your faith, actually engaging with others
So, how many of these resonated with you? Are you finding yourself on edge? Snapping at your partner or children? Feeling isolated and disconnected from others? Neglecting your sleep and self care? Scrolling endlessly on your phone that your screen time exceeds six-plus hours a day? Being busy, over committed, over worked, locked into our phones at any and all times is costing our mind, body, and ability to connect with others and care for ourselves?
We are ten months into this “slower pace of life” that COVID has ushered us into. As I think about how life has in so many ways, forced our hand to slow down some, it’s reminded me of the need to evaluate my schedule, my time, what I want to invest in. Let me offer you a few tips on how you can end the hustle and create some space to slow down.
Consider Where You Spend Your Time
First, I would encourage you to consider where are you rushed and what are you spending your time on. Where and when are you escaping and checking out? What things do you need to say no to, so you can say yes to the rest. Taking an inventory of how you spend your time and what you spend your time on can be really helpful. I’d also encourage you to consider how much time you are spending on your phone. Perhaps you need to park your phone for the evening so you can be more present for your family. You can adjust your social media and scrolling with setting a timer/boundary where the apps will close once you have set your limit. Another idea is start small with caring for your body. Instead of dialing into Netflix each night, choose to go for a walk, move your body, dance with the kids, or engage in a workout so your body is able to experience some healthy movement. Another suggestion is to watch your caffeine and alcohol intake. Make sure that caffeine hasn’t become your “way to power through your day”, and alcohol hasn’t become the thing you look forward to once work is done.
Practice Saying No
Second, evaluate your boundaries. Perhaps you need to start saying no to invitations that may take you away from rest and care for yourself. Anytime you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else, so say yes to the things you really want to do, and practice saying no. No to the extra shift at work, no to the next volunteering committee sign up, no to the travel ball tournament that will take you out of state with the kids, and no to Netflix. We say yes to a lot, however keep saying yes to the things that you really want to do. You can evaluate your work boundaries too. Setting a work boundary of not checking your email after you are home for the evening or not checking work emails on the weekend can be another boundary that you implement.
Notice Your Feelings
Thirdly, give yourself the space and permission to feel your feelings and investigate them. Emotions play a pivotal role in how we think and act/behave. Dropping in to our feelings, noticing where we feel them in our body, putting words to their experience can help get out of the avoiding and escaping behaviors. Emotions can be signals to what is important to us, can motivate us, and allow us to connect with others. It is important to learn to experience emotions and not get stuck in avoidance or bypassing them. That irritability may be signaling to you that you need some time to care for yourself and slow down.
If the COVID pandemic has taught me anything, it’s made me literally slow down, take a break, make space from some of my activities, and reflect on the fact that we are over booked, over worked at times, and it is difficult to make room for rest and relaxation. More isn’t better. Being busy is not something to take pride in. Finding a place of rest and space to disconnect from the hustle of this world is needed. So I encourage you to step back, evaluate where you may be experiencing this “hurry sickness” and take action. Talk about it with a friend, co worker, partner, sibling, or parent.
If you think that you may need additional help or support trying to figure out how to slow your life down or help navigating the stressors of a busy life, don’t do it alone. If you are interested in professional help, there are many counselors who are ready, available, and equipped to help you on this journey. As humans, we are designed to connect, to not do this life alone. Please reach out to one of our counselors or the many counselors in your community. Don’t let another day go by where you feel drained with nothing left to give to yourself and those around you.