Do you find yourself with a jam-packed calendar and no end in sight? Do you have a mile long to-do list and a never ending “to read” or “to watch” list? Do you book yourself with back-to-back plans and speed walk to get from Point A to Point B? Do you feel incredibly overwhelmed by all this, and yet, insurmountable guilt when you stay at home for too long? If you’ve answered YES to all of these questions, you are, in fact, a busy bee!
This is not a bad thing. This is just who you are— you’re ambitious and a go-getter! You thrive in a lifestyle where you’re always doing something, instead of one where you’re doing nothing at all. Your days go by in the blink of an eye simply because there is so much to do and so many people to see. It’s fast-paced and very exciting and it’s easy to get addicted to the high one gets from being busy.
But the truth is, you still need a break. You will get to a point where you feel burnt out and at a whole new level of stress. Take it from me—I was once incredibly busy, and ironically, this was a period of my life where I had a lot of spare time. I was in between jobs and not in school at this point so it was essentially a time where I had very little structure. I almost feel like this demanded a certain pressure to keep myself stimulated. I created my own schedule, filled with my own plans, and made sure that I was busy and never bored. I hate being bored, which is why I love being busy, but I had several experiences where this lifestyle broke me down. I would always say yes to everything, testing out just how much I can take on my plate. But by doing this, I was neglecting myself and my own mental state. I was overwhelmed, purely from the fear of being bored and being lazy.
So, I’m training myself to be better at finding a balance. There’s no way I will ever become lazy—it’s truly not in my character. What I’m trying to teach myself is how I can rest. That doesn’t mean spending a whole day in bed, because I know I could never do that— I become too restless. Resting for me has a different meaning, and I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned so far:
This means doing only what you want to do. If you want to stay at home all day, do that. If you want to meet your best friend for coffee, do that. But make sure you’re not committing to anything for the sake of making others happy. You need this day, at least once a week, to make yourself happy. This might take some self-reflection to figure out what this is. Personally, I notice that I get too antsy when I spend an entire day at home. One way that I deal with this is by driving myself to the water near where I live and spend a few minutes looking out into the deep blue. This is something that I find tremendously therapeutic, even if it’s just a brief interaction.
I’ll never be the kind of person who can sleep until noon. This is partially because my body is used to a 6:30 am wake-up call on Monday to Friday, but also because my busy bee guilt swings in if I dare try to sleep the day away. That being said, I value my weekends because I’m able to turn my alarm clock off. I sleep in until 9:00 am and that’s the perfect time for me. I don’t have to forcefully peel my eyes open or walk to the bathroom like a zombie. Instead, I am rejuvenated from an appropriate amount of sleep, but am still up early enough to be productive with my day.
They say you’re either a bath person or shower person. I think I’m a bath person with a shower person mind. I love taking baths because they’re incredibly cozy and relaxing, but find myself having a hard time just sitting in a tub and do absolutely nothing for longer than ten minutes. I used to stay in the tub for up to an hour when I was a kid, but that was because I had all these toys to play with! While I no longer have Polly Pockets to take into the tub, I do find alternative ways to entertain myself. I’ll bring a book, my laptop, a towel for a pillow, a glass of wine, and a face mask. Needless to say, I’ve found my adult version of stimulation, and try to find time for a “busy” bath at least once a week.
Your phone is your link to being busy. Whether it’s emails, notifications, or messages, your phone may be preventing you from having some space and relaxing. But take away the phone and its never-ending stimulation, and what’s left to do? Remember that thing called a book? Yeah! That thing you used to read during all your free time before you ever had a smartphone! Or you can give yourself the time to cook a nice meal. Perhaps even picking up a new hobby? The second I put my phone down, I start to get creative as to what I can possibly do with my time.
This is the most important thing you can learn to do and that’s because it represents the tipping point between being busy and being overwhelmed. You might want to keep everyone happy, but you shouldn’t be sacrificing your own happiness and sanity for that. You need to be a little bit selfish and people need to be understanding when you choose time for yourself and simply cannot commit. This is something that becomes easier with practice and the understanding that people will not be disappointed in you and the world will not fall apart if you simply say no.
Stay in the loop for all things Common by joining our newsletter!