Welcome back to the multi-part series examining different ways to improve from the Inside Out – because that’s how we achieve psychological wellness and well-being.
In this part of the series, the focus is on the ‘addiction’ to being busy – the pathological habit of “doing” instead of being in life. For many people, messages learned in childhood created the foundation of the drive to be busy and productive. Pair that with the faced-paced world in which we live and you have those who literally have forgotten how to relax. Also, people use ‘being busy’ as an excuse to avoid engagement in life or to avoid their own negative feelings about themselves.
The biological processes that help keep the body in balance are literally breaking down in a world focused on doing vs. being. How does this show up in people? There is an increase in physical health problems: high blood pressure; weight gain eating way too much sugar; sleep problems. There is an increase in emotional and psychological health – with more people experiencing depression than ever before. Others find their lives lack the richness it once held, leaving them feeling isolated and alone.
What can be done to change directions?
Begin by taking an honest inventory of your calendar. If you had to prioritize the things listed on a weekly basis, how many truly support your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. If someone (let’s say hypothetically a therapist) were to look at your life from 30,000 feet, would they say you were thriving in life or just surviving? Are you masking inner dissatisfaction by “being busy?”
Unfortunately it isn’t enough to just think about change, or to sit in reflection. To create and sustain change in your life, it is necessary to take some calculated risks. Now—please note I use the word calculated! This isn’t the time to decide that leaving behind the life of doing and leaping toward a life of being means quitting your job to run off to the mountains and suddenly life is bliss. Rather, being calculated means thinking about change and creating a workable plan to get it done. Making rash decision can often lead to increased stress and most likely cleaning up the mess (which by the way is leading you right back to doing and what you were running from in the first place!).
An example of a calculated risk is looking ahead to the next 3-6 months and scheduling time off. It can be as little as a day or two, or as big as a week or two. Start with what’s comfortable and doable in your life. Once that’s done, decide to do something new and different that supports you’re beingness (also known as relaxation).
Why new? Our brains need to experience new things to help create new pathways to help us get out of old ruts (ways) of thinking and behavior.
Other ways to return to being supported by science are deep breathing, meditation, taking a news diet, reducing exposure to electronics, spending time with friends and family, connecting to nature, and engaging in hobbies and activities that are fun. Remember that “doing” can quickly become a habit and one that does little to support your health.
Please check back for the last post in this series at the end of the month! In the meantime, stop doing something and start being in the moment.
Dr. Erika McElroy
Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC