Being busy can be a great thing. It shows you're actively working, planning, and splitting your time in multiple places.
However, are you someone who gets anxious thinking you have nothing to do the next day? Or, do you have a hard time avoiding emails while on vacation? Are you constantly planning to stay busy because you just don't know how to relax?
Unfortunately, you might be too attached to the feeling of being busy, and this can be extremely unhealthy.
The inability to give yourself down time or leisure time can be a huge problem for your health. Your brain and mind need rest outside of sleep in the form of a quick nap, a fun stroll outside, or 30 minutes of guilty pleasure TV or magazines. By doing this, you can keep your energy level and mood up.
How can you unwind and have time dedicated for just you?
Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, ACSM, discusses why you might be attached to feeling busy and how you can find time to unwind throughout your day.
RadioMD Presents:The Dr. Holly Lucille Show| Original Air Date: March 11, 2015
Host: Holly Lucille, ND, RN
It's time to separate fact from fiction and health fads. It's time for the Dr. Holly Lucille show. Here's Dr. Holly.
DR HOLLY: Hi. Thanks for coming back, folks. I'm so happy for this segment because I like any time I can have a lovely guest on who can tell me something about myself that I probably already know but need to listen to somebody else, You know, there is this whole idea about "physician, heal thyself" and we tend to be some of the worst patients. But, I try really hard. I really do.
But, I have joining me, Rebecca Scritchfield. How are you?
REBECCA: I'm doing well. How are you doing?
DR HOLLY: I think I'm doing pretty good. But, I'm going to love this topic. I always love your topics because I think they're so insightful. I think they're very timely and I think the listeners are going to love this topic, too. Are you addicted to being busy?
REBECCA: Yes. Yes. Yes. We all are.
DR HOLLY: Tell me about it. Yes. I think so, too. Yes. What are your thoughts?
REBECCA: Well, it was funny you were talking about physician healing thyself. I'm like, "Yes. And dietician, healing herself," because this topic came to mind out of myself. I was talking to my neighbor and I was, the first thought I had was, "Don't make eye contact because you're going to have to stop and talk," which is terrible because socializing is a very good way we connect with others. But then, when we did stop and talk, it was kind of like we both talked about how insanely busy we were and how insanely busy we were with the kids and it was just a very rushed conversation and after that I thought, "Oh, my gosh. This is to the point of being overwhelmed." I've seen it with my own clients. If you schedule too much and overbook yourself, you really kind of try to do it all, but you're never satisfied with what you're able to get done and you crash your energy super fast."
DR HOLLY: Yes. I hear you. I mean, I see it all the time. You know, I think this whole idea of adrenal dysregulation or adrenal fatigue, you know, the 21st century illness, I think it's a contributing factor to a lot of the clinical presentations I see with folks, whether it is fatigue, hair falling out, hormonal imbalances, insomnia, crappy skin. You name it. When I stop and I start to get these peoples' stories and my eyes just bug out because I'm like, "And, I thought I was busy." I mean, it is a really common problem.
REBECCA: Yes. You know, if you think about it, there are a lot of factors at play. Even just the whole sheer volume of information that we take in on a given day. Technology being the promise of healing and connecting and making us more efficient, what it actually makes is the information more efficient. I heard a fabulous—I could not believe it—statistic that, essentially, the information we receive, whether it's email, a mailing, or something that triggers that we might need to do something else, we receive a similar amount of information over 3 days that our parents would receive in an entire year.
DR HOLLY: Oh, my gosh.
REBECCA: It's crazy.
DR HOLLY: You know, and I kind of feel, well, here we are contributing to it, right? Because we've got 10 minute segments here. We're giving a lot of information.
REBECCA: Listen to our podcast.
DR HOLLY: Yes. Listen, listen, listen, please. I mean, so we are vying for peoples' attention, but I think we're also trying to contribute and help out a bit, but it is very interesting. I've always been an advocate of understanding. This is the information age and, actually, Rebecca, I think you would probably agree with me. Sometimes the stuff that I hear, whoa, it's the misinformation age.
But, you know, what I've tried to do, honestly, is, hopefully, somewhat successfully in my practice and in any other platform I have, is to facilitate understanding; to help people actually kind of feel it in their bones, if it's right for them. Not just, that sounds good when you say it really fast, but, "Hey, can this help? Do you want to? Can you use your own mind and really be your own PCP? Your own primary care provider, primarily in charge of providing care for yourself." So, in us, you and I helping people doing this, what do you suggest for folks that you see that are really unable to unwind and kind of addicted to this busyness to change this?
REBECCA: Yes. So, the first thing that I say is, "Busyness is not a bragging right." You know? So, it's not necessarily this good thing that defines your value. I saw—I didn't to read the whole article—I guess I was too busy, but I think it was chief at Google recently resigned, a C level, and his reason was to have more time with family. It's one of the number one wishes that most people want is more leisure time. More time with friends and family. I think that in our culture, how much work isn't necessarily leisure time friendly or family friendly compared to other cultures that do fine with their productivity.
I think we need to accept, as individuals, that our culture doesn't really support the down time and the leisure time, so we have to take it. I just make it really simple and I tell people, "Write a list of your life values. Imagine it's your last day on this earth and you're reflecting. What are you talking about? What did you enjoy about your life?" If you can get clear on your values, you need to get clear on you don't really manage your time, you make choices of how you spend it. Just start making a "to don't" list instead of a "to do" list. Start there and saying "no" is easier to do the more you do it. You get more power and just realize that you are in charge of your schedule, even if it doesn't always feel that way. You might just have to make some tougher choices. You can start anywhere. Take 1 minute a day of "me" time. Then, make it 5 and then 10, and so on.
DR HOLLY: Oh. I love it. I love the starting small. It's kind of like going slow, but go. Just get a little bit. I mean, I had this guy once. He worked on the East Coast, woke up on the West Coast, so, lived here. So, by the time he woke up, he had 3 hours of emails, etc., to manage. His anxiety, upon waking in the morning, colored his world, his family life, forever. It was very difficult because he thought, too, "Well, the sooner I can get to these, the better it's going to be." But, guess what? You clear out your in box and it fills back up again. You clear out your in box and it fills back up again. We worked really, really hard for him just to start for 30 seconds and we called it a "power pause" and just literally, being able to really understand. He has grown. He's grown into doing it twice a day. He's been up to 30 minutes at a time and it makes just the most difference in the world.
REBECCA: I love the idea of a "power pause". Oh, that is so great because our brains do need to shut off a little bit. From what I've learned, maybe 90 minutes of good activity; maybe an hour of kind of energizing, go, go, go where you're using your brain. Then, it's going to need a little bit of time to re-boot. So, that could be a perfect time within your busy work day even. Let me take 5 minutes and do some deep breathing. Let me go run that quick errand that's going to help out a family member and free up so that I can still get my work out, then, later.
DR HOLLY: Yes. Those are great recommendations. One of the things we've done as well, I have a community of women, I have an all-female Cross Fit Box, that is taking turns helping out. You know? I mean, whatever it is. I think it elucidates a couple of things. First of all, it's the ability to ask for help and know that people are there to support. Then, also, the ability to not only receive but give that help, too. I think that's so powerful, too, because I think when people get into this busyness, they get very, very myopic or focused and, "I just have to put my nose to the grindstone, head down, and keep plowing through this life just to get it taken care of."
DR HOLLY: And, it's kind of like survival. It's surviving over thriving.
REBECCA: Right. Like, where's the joy?
DR HOLLY: Yes. I mean, seriously. It's just getting to that nighttime rest.
DR HOLLY: Just so you can wake up and do it all again. It's breaking that cycle.
DR HOLLY: And, I think it's so important.
REBECCA: Well, a couple of real quick points I would make. You mentioned about giving and receiving. That's kindness. We know that elicits happy hormones and happiness in both the giver and receiver. I think that's great. Just related to my world of nutrition and fitness, the downside of being too busy is that we tend have less energy to make those healthy food choices. We tend to relax with television and a little too much alcohol. And the fact that you feel guilt after it doesn't really help.
DR HOLLY: That feeds the cycle.
REBECCA: Reduce the calendar. Exactly. Exactly. Vicious cycle. So, we've got to do less.
DR HOLLY: Excellent. Yes. Excellent information. Thank you so much. It's all about breaking the cycle if you're in it. If you listen, you'll probably see that you're in it.
Thanks so much for listening.This is Dr. Holly Lucille on RadioMD.