Check-in with yourself from time to time and see if you would benefit from slowing down.
Some days I feel productive and happy to be engaged in various activities I have on the go and other days it feels overwhelming and I just want to cancel everything. Does this sound like you?
Many people are struggling to balance their busy schedules. I see people running around stretching themselves thin as it feels like too much trying to keep up with everything. Somehow the “new normal” is being able to juggle the kids’ extracurriculars and homework, the house cleaning and maintenance, work, helping out family or friends, community engagement, having time for your spouse or for yourself if you are a single parent filling the roles of 2 parents (and more), and it seems we’re all supposed to strive towards that.
This is especially true in urban communities. If you have ever lived in a small town, you see this difference – the pace of life is slower. I have reached a space lately where I am seriously asking: Why don’t we slow down? So, let’s explore this a little.
I have been thinking about the downfalls to keeping busy all of the time. Some people become anxious or irritable which can be explained by stress hormones that are released to help the body keep up with ongoing stressors (even positive stressors). Others will feel overwhelmed, which can make it harder to fight off negative thinking - impacting mood.
When we are always on-the-go, we focus our minds on what is happening next on our ‘to do’ list, and it’s hard to be mindful – living in and enjoying the present moment. It can leave little room for boredom – a little bit of boredom can be healthy as it feeds creativity. Sometimes people become physically ill because ongoing stress can make us susceptible to aches and pains or colds and flus due to weakened immune systems. Also, not spending enough time with our thoughts leaves little room for reflecting and engaging in helpful thought-based strategies that can positively impact mood and anxiety. Finally, some may notice they are spending less quality time with those they love than they would prefer.
But it can’t be all negative… there must be reasons for keeping this busy. One positive aspect of being this busy is that it enables families to have it all. It can keep the mind occupied and away from negative thinking such as worries – temporarily. It can feed a sense of accomplishment and productivity when checking off that ‘to do’ list. It can make someone feel better about themselves when they are able to keep up as they compare themselves to others who seem to be able to juggle everything. And of course, money is harder to come by these days. In our economy nowadays we often need dual income earners to run a household.
Clearly there are both pros and cons to leading a busy life. I think it can be useful to check-in with yourself from time to time and see if you would benefit from slowing down. For me, slowing down is a goal because the pros outweigh the cons. For you, it might not be, and that is okay. Everyone is unique and a person’s need to slow down or keep busy will change over time.
Try not to compare yourself to someone else who seems to be able to juggle it all. I encourage you to reflect on what you need and trust your gut about this. It is usually right.
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