Addicted to being busy

When people ask how you are, is your standard response “Good thanks, I’m so busy”? It seems we rate the importance of our lives by how busy we are – as if this is a good thing.

‘Busy’ is more than a state of being – it’s a state of mind, and maybe a way of keeping feelings of emptiness at bay by not having time to think or reflect.

Are we choosing to be so busy, or is it the result of unrelenting demands from our workplace, families and friends? What do people feel that they might miss if they stop being so busy and just ‘be’?

Professor Jane Fisher, the Jean Hailes Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University, says that when people have an excessive sense of being busy, they may fear standing still. “But without periods of quietness, creativity is stifled,” she says. “It’s often in the quiet moments that big ideas emerge and solutions to difficult problems are found.”

Feeling constantly in demand can be seductive.  While it may feel unrelenting, it can also increase a sense of being connected, valuable and important.

Emails and text messages can blur the boundaries between professional and private spaces, and continue across time zones.  Many people feel buried under an avalanche of incoming mail and unable to respond in a timely and efficient manner.

We schedule so much of our (and our children’s) time that we can forget it’s normal to be idle sometimes, and that it’s good to take time to sit and think or daydream.

Professor Fisher recommends giving yourself permission to sit still for a while and quieten your inner sense of urgency. Sometimes it can be worrying to do this, and not to be busy, but it can be very useful to reassess what role being busy plays in your life and whether there any important longer term goals are being forgotten.

Don’t think of idleness as a luxury – taking time for reflection is healthy and something we all need to build into our lives. In the future, we want to be able to look back on our lives and feel that we lived it well, spent time with our loved ones and did the things we wanted to do – not what we had to do.

Published with the permission of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health www.jeanhailes.org.au 1800 JEAN HAILES (532 642)

Disclaimer: matieral provided in this blog is for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional.

About Nadene van der Linden

Nadene van der Linden is a clinical psychologist in private practice. She is the author of Tales from the parenting trenches. A clinical psychologist vs motherhood and Live life to the full. Your guide to feeling better sooner.
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