“Busy” is a word that I’ve removed from my speaking vocabulary. For me it means that I’m at the effect of my life, instead of being at the cause of it.
That’s not what I want. I know that if I allow everything external to me to dictate my everyday life, it leads me to burnout, to anxiety, and in the end, towards depression.
Because I’ve allowed my ability to be at choice in my life to be repressed.
But its not that easy to switch from being busy to un-busy, even if, let’s say, you’re on holiday. Because your body has been so used to going going going that you almost need as much time to reverse the effects of it.
When you’re starting to notice that you’re so busy, I’m going to invite you to notice… as if you’re watching your life in a movie.
What makes your life busy?
Are you moving from one thing to the next like you’re being pushed like a ping-pong?
What does it feel like in your body?
For the record, I’m not advocating not doing anything at all, or not doing what you need to do in life, or not going for what you desire.
We need positive stress, too, because it makes life exciting. Our bodies release hormones that make it so.
The key here is awareness, specifically becoming aware when what you’re doing is already starting to tip you over because your body cannot handle it anymore.
And this is the part to be really conscious of because that’s what starts the train that leads to burnout, chronic fatigue and chronic pain.
For me, I know when I’m starting to push myself too much, even if my mind still wants to do more, is when my lower back starts aching. “Don’t break your back” is so apt for me.
I share here 4 steps to flow for those who’d like to move towards INTENTIONAL living, instead of CONDITIONED living.
Being mindful of how you are day-to-day is the first step to making changes in your life.
Step 1: Awareness
The first step to change is always awareness. You can’t change what you don’t know.
We tackle it in a holistic way. Become aware physically, mentally and emotionally.
PHYSICAL: Telltale signs of being busy
👉🏼 you’re living each day running from one errand to the next, from one place to the next
👉🏼 you notice you’re not that hungry or you forget to eat 👉🏼 you’re holding a lot of tension in your body, especially your shoulders, hands (notice your grip on the steering wheel) and feet
MENTAL: (do I even need to write this down 😉)
👉🏼 you’re always thinking of your to-do list
👉🏼 you keep conversations short because you’re more concerned of ticking off your to-do
👉🏼 you can’t take in much info
👉🏼 you mostly run on auto-pilot. Like when you’re driving, sometimes you don’t remember how you got from point a to point b
👉🏼 you have this innate drive to do, do, do because you put a lot of importance on what you’ve accomplished or having a perfect outcome
👉🏼 you don’t know what to do with yourself if you’re not doing anything
👉🏼 you feel a big sense of worth from being productive
Step 2: Reflection
The second step to change is REFLECTION.
Once you’re aware of your physical, emotional and mental experience of being busy, reflection gives you more context of why you do what you do.
Here are 3 areas I suggest reflecting on:
👉🏼 How have you used being busy to identify yourself and fill your sense of self?
👉🏼 How important is everything that you do when you’re busy?
👉🏼 Do you use being busy just to be the same as everyone else around you, ie to “belong”? COST:
👉🏼 What does being busy cost you?
👉🏼 How is it costing your health, finances, relationships, career and sense of self?
👉🏼 If being busy boosts your career and finances a lot but you hardly see your family and loved ones, is that what you want?
👉🏼 When did you first DECIDE to be busy?
This requires digging deep and understanding why you chose this way of being at the time.
👉🏼 Are you stopping yourself from feeling something or facing something?
What we don’t realise is that being busy is an addiction in itself. We refuse to stop, ponder, reflect because when we do, we might actually feel… And sometimes, that can be painful. And we know it, we just refuse to go there.
The work of healing is integrating within your physical, mental and emotional selves that what you chose before probably isn’t applicable to now anymore, and/or you now are capable to make a different choice.
Step 3: Change in the Moment
You didn’t think “Change” wouldn’t be until Step 3, right?
Change doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger because we are hardwired for habit. Science indicates that when we do something new, it’s physically “hard” (for lack of a better term) for the nerves in our brain to do that.
Change is actually a combination of moments. As you practice a new habit, you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain and your body to do that.
So, what actions can you do to start becoming unbusy?
PHYSICAL: Once you’re aware what it feels like when you get very busy, I invite you to find moments to slow down. Even if it means just taking a couple of minutes of deep breaths while you’re waiting in the car. Or consciously relax your muscles if you find them tensing up in the middle of activity. Or actually scheduling a block of time to simply do nothing and BE.
MENTAL: Map out what each day is like for you, from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep. Is everything that’s in your calendar absolutely necessary to be done at that time or can you space them out just a little bit? Design your days for flow, instead of a rat race.
EMOTIONAL: Being busy is also a conscious or unconscious effort to numb and distract oneself. Its either that or that you find being busy fulfills your inner achiever, inner perfectionist, inner invincible superwoman or innner comparison queen, choose to face the real cause behind that. Remember that 80 to 90% of the time, most people unconsciously chose what they do with their lives based on an emotional experience from the past.
At the moment that you find yourself getting pulled into being busy, notice what’s the feeling behind it and then bring compassion to yourself.
And that’s what’s absolutely needed when you’re creating a new way of being… COMPASSION. If you made a change in the moment yesterday but couldn’t do it today, that’s ok.
Step 4: Integration
We arrive now in Step 4 and the last step of Becoming Unbusy.
Science shows that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. Yogic teaching indicates that it takes 40 days to change/break a habit, 90 days to establish a new habit, 120 days to get integrated, and 1000 days to have the ability to respond with mastery.
This is why you should NEVER ever beat yourself up from not perfectly making the changes you wish in your life, especially becoming unbusy.
If becoming unbusy for you means scheduling in more self-care time, I suggest to schedule it in your diary. And just tell yourself that you’re going to schedule it this one time, let’s say on a Sunday.
Then, once you’re already in that self-care plan day or time, really immerse yourself in it and don’t multitask! Once it’s finished and during the hours and even days afterward, really note how it made you feel.
I bet it felt really good! Then find in your calendar when you can schedule it again!
When I wanted to do more hatha yoga in my life, I started with 1 to 2 classes a week. And I did have weeks when I couldn’t book in. And then when I absolutely realised I can cope with day-to-day more when I practice, I started doing it at home as soon as I wake up. Until eventually, I didn’t hesitate anymore to do it everyday!
Anyway, I hope this post has been insightful. I’m keen to know your thoughts on all these 4 steps.
A concept has formed from writing this to make this into a group coaching 4-week online course, with teachings on how to reverse busy-ness in the body, guided meditation I’ll give you to practice these, practical worksheets for increased self-awareness, and then uncovering what’s behind your compulsion to be busy so it doesn’t run you anymore.
How does that sound? If you’d like to know as soon as the course it comes out, please sign up to my mailing list.
And if you’d like to schedule in some self-care time, check out my upcoming events.