Last week, I had a particularly busy day–with appointments, phone calls, projects, errands. Luckily, my energy level was high. I powered through and got everything done. It made me feel like Superwoman, leaping tall buildings in a single bound!
Being busy can be exhilarating. And it is that very feeling that can make busyness addictive. We crave that rush of excitement that comes with feeling we're getting things done. Or that relief that we crossed one more thing off our to do list.
The problem is that when we keep going at a frenetic pace, our adrenaline levels skyrocket.
Adrenaline is released as part of our fight-or-flight response, elevating our heart rate and blood pressure and boosting energy supplies to respond to threats. When we’re in a constant state of stress, this response remains in force–leading to problems like anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, memory impairment, a suppressed immune system, and even heart disease. Ongoing high Ievels of cortisol (also part of the fight-or-flight response) have also been associated with weight gain.
How long has it been since you had real downtime?
When we’re constantly running, we barely have time to think about what we’re doing–much less dream about our future. If we’re not careful, we’ll wake up one day and realize we didn’t spend time on what’s most important to us. Living a meaningful life doesn’t happen by accident. We need time and space to pray/meditate, listen to our hearts, and ask ourselves the tough questions.
Speaking of tough questions...
When I dug deeper with several clients recently about their pace, they discovered a powerful reason for their addiction to busyness. Unconsciously, they didn’t want to slow down long enough to examine their lives. They knew it would mean facing disappointment and pain they had never dealt with.
Celeste (nor her real name) had a deep desire to get married and have a family. She was in her late 30s and discouraged that it hadn’t happened for her (at least not yet). Being so busy allowed her to ignore her feelings. It also meant she didn’t make time to meet new people. By slowing down, Celeste was able to face her hurt, let it go, and make dating a priority–which led her to the man who would eventually become her husband.
Some questions to ask yourself...
On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “not at all busy” and 10 is “very busy,” how would you rate your current level of busyness?
How do you feel about that rating?
If you want to lower it, ask yourself:
How am I spending my time?
Right now, what matters most to me?
With that in mind, what can I delegate, delay or eliminate to give myself more breathing room?
What action steps can I take this week to begin to lower my busyness score? This month? This year?
How will I keep myself on track?
Let me know how you’re lowering your score!