As women, we often succumb to the addiction of 'doing'. We are expert plate spinners. We run around getting things done, putting lots of other people's needs before our own and we feel an immense amount of guilt if we stop 'doing', whatever that 'doing' is.
We supercharge our weekends (weeks in advance) so that we never actually have to sit still, we find things to do on days when we have nothing to do, so that we don't feel guilty for 'doing nothing' and wasting our day. We over-exercise, we shop, we clean, we tidy, we organise, we neglect to find time to eat, we social media surf until we fall asleep. We will do anything that means we don't have to relax and 'do nothing' because the silence is scary. The silence means we are alone with ourselves and our own thoughts.
Some people perceive being really busy as a sign of success and although this can be true, being constantly busy and overwhelmed actually has more negative than positive effects on our health and well-being. When we are crazy busy, we are exposing our bodies to stress and our bodies can only take so much, before it activates its stress response. The addiction to 'doing' is exhausting.
So why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we supercharge our schedules and why do I see so many women in the clinic who are addicted to 'doing' and exhausted as a result?
One of the reasons is because we just don’t want to let people down, it's our need to people please. But, there's also a much deeper reason, which is this, being busy makes us feel less worthless or less inadequate. We think that by keeping ourselves crazy busy, we are more productive and more effective. It gives us a (false) sense of achievement. We think, the more we do, the better we become.
We rush around, doing lots of things, things that keep us busy, but how much of these things lead us to actually achieving the things we set out to achieve? We can fill our day doing 20 things that might only move us one step closer to where we need to be, or, we can focus our day on doing 3 things, giving real quality, focused time (with 'down time' factored in) to those 3 things, that might move us 10 steps closer. Which one is more productive?
The reality is, the busier we keep ourselves, the more we avoid being confronted with facing life. Being busy enables us to keep a safe and comfortable distance to the issues that are sometimes hard to look at. Busyness is a crutch, it's a safety net, a coping mechanism and therefore it's something we choose to do or be. But here's the deal, feeling worthy, feeling adequate is something that comes from within. No amount of crazy busyness will make you feel worthy or adequate.
If this resonates with you, try and think about lowering your speed limit. The next time you feel busy, pause for a moment, be mindful and present and ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. What’s keeping you busy?
2. And is it worth it? (If the answer is no, don't do it!)
3. Are there plates you can let go of? (Prioritise)
Allow yourself to rest, to 'do nothing', factor it into your life because it's good for you. Life is all about balance.
Catherine Asta Labbett, is the founder and owner of Yorkshire based 'Bringing Sparkle Back' delivering Psychotherapy, Relationship and Life Coaching exclusively for women.