By Lauren Presutti
Many people feel pressured to keep busy. Parents of kids and teens often run from school pickups to sports practice to music lessons to family dinnertime to homework, bedtime, and repeat the next day. Working professionals are often praised for hustling harder with a jam-packed schedule. Some people also feel pressured to maximize weekends with day trips, vacations, community service, house projects, and more.
Constant busyness can be attractive because it helps decrease fears about missing out. Busyness can also imply that we are wanted and needed, making us feel more valuable. There is a certain level of prestige associated with productivity that likely stems from capitalism and social media influences (busyness tends to bring more attention to our social media profiles, thereby bringing more validation to us, which can feel good). You may even find yourself sort of bragging about how busy you are sometimes. We might be afraid of appearing lazy if we aren’t as busy as our peers or we might be seeking more praise for our activities and accomplishments.
But is it healthy to be busy at all times? Do you ever feel exhausted from this lifestyle? Although social pressure and expectations can lead us to feel inadequate if we don’t have a busy schedule to flaunt, the truth is that we may be worsening our mental health if we don’t take time for healthy breaks. Stepping away from the hustle, slowing down, and giving our bodies and minds the rest they need should be a fundamental part of our weekly routines. Breaks help us decompress, manage stress better, restore our motivation, allow us to reassess, and alleviate mental fatigue, which overall has a positive effect on our wellbeing.
Reflecting on your personal experiences can be helpful in assessing how busy you are. If you answer yes to some of these questions below, you might benefit from talking with a therapist to create a healthier lifestyle.
Are you constantly trying to multitask?
Are you frequently tired?
Is it hard to slow down or focus?
Do you feel out of balance?
Do you frequently have racing thoughts?
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Is your calendar hard to read because it’s so full?
Does it ever feel like you are on auto-pilot?
Does your mind feel cluttered?
Do your friends and family say it’s hard to reach you?
Are you always behind on your favorite shows?
Can you never seem to catch up on emails?
Do you feel resentful about obligations?
Are you neglecting your self-care?
Can you remember the last time you weren’t busy?
Do you rely on caffeine or sugar to get you through the day?
Is it challenging to stay organized?
Do you have time for your favorite leisure activities?
Do you miss spending time with people in your life?
Are you trying to uphold a busy schedule to keep a reputation?
Are you frequently falling behind on chores or everyday tasks?
Are you experiencing anxiety or depression?
How busy we are often seems beyond our control but it’s not. This is your life and it’s largely up to you to decide what you do with it. That includes how you spend your energy and time. If you feel your life is getting too busy and you’re struggling to catch your breath, explore the benefits of being less busy, prioritize what’s important, slow down, work on simplifying, and leave wiggle room for flexibility. Remember that change starts with you. Keep an eye on your schedule and say no to things that don’t add value to your life. Choose quality over quantity. And remember that you are never alone. At River Oaks Psychology, we would be honored to help you slow down and work toward finding a healthy balance in your life.