As a working mom, it’s easy to get caught in the swirl of busyness! Trying to be all things, to all people, all of the time (a.k.a. Super Woman).
You’re expected to have it all, right?! To be a successful entrepreneur, loving mom, and sexy wife. To keep a gorgeous home, be the ultimate socialite and hostess, a four-star chef and still find time to workout and stay in great shape.
No time for what’s important in life? Always feel like you’re running faster and faster on the hamster wheel but can’t get off? Feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, frazzled and fried?
Well, we hate to tell you but you might have fallen prey to Addiction to Busyness Syndrome (ATBS). It’s a chronic habit of always filling up your schedule, keeping busy and doing, doing, doing to maintain your Super Woman cape and badge of honor.
Now, you might be wondering, how does it creep up on you and take over your life?
In today’s fast paced world, we seem to honor those who accomplish a lot, do a lot and can magically keep all the balls of responsibility up in the air. But what we’ve come to realize through my recovery process is that it’s really about filling the need of our ego to “look good”, “have it all together” and be “worthy” as individuals.
It’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you if you just do one more thing, then you’ll finally be good enough, smart enough, successful enough.
It’s as if we’re trying to validate our existence through action. We’ve lost the ability to sit quietly and just be with our selves to hear the whispers of our soul.
You see, the more busy you become, the less time you have to actually feel the stuff that might be difficult in your life. Those “learning opportunities for growth,” as we like to call them. It’s the emotional way of sweeping things under the rug or looking the other way. Because who wants to feel the all those icky emotions like fear and doubt?
In her book, ‘Daring Greatly’, Brene Brown tells us that numbing behaviors are a way to armor against vulnerability (showing others who you really are).
And if you think numbing doesn’t apply to you because you’re not addicted to drugs or alcohol, she clarifies this by saying, “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”
Is any of this ringing true for you? Are you numbing out on busyness? How might you be hiding behind your list of To-Do’s, phone calls and meetings?
If you notice yourself showing any of these signs, you too may be addicted to busyness:
1. You check your phone and email constantly.
Keeping in touch is one thing, but obsessing about being in touch is another. If you find yourself starting to quiver when you’re more than 10 feet from your smart phone or computer, you may have ATBS.
Keys to recovery: Consider creating a digital detox zone in your life. Perhaps it’s in the evenings or over the weekend. “Step away from your devices ma’am!” Give yourself a break and focus on the other areas of your life that need your time, attention and love.
2. Your schedule is packed full from stem to stern.
If you’re so busy that you’re schedule is booked down to the minute, you might need to make some changes. Having no wiggle room or down time in your daily schedule can be detrimental to your health.
Keys to recovery: It’s important to take time to stop, pause, reflect and just catch your breath. If need be, book mini appointments with yourself throughout your day to step away from your desk/computer/phone and just breath deeply for 10 minutes while you take a walk around.
This will get your blood flowing, stimulate your brain and refocus your vision to help you prevent eye-strain.
3. You complain about being Super Woman.
Do you find yourself complaining about how busy you are while secretly feeling proud of yourself for being able to “handle it all” like Super Woman, even though you’re mentally and physically exhausted? Our ego LOVES to feel important. It can be a core driver of success for many people.
Your ego might sound something like this: “I’m needed, I’m important, because ‘I’m In Demand’. This makes me ‘worthy’, right?”
No. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to find other places/activities that feed your self worth as well as your spirit. Your title is NOT all that you are! The world will not come to an end if you step away from your work.
Keys to recovery: Volunteer at your child’s school or some organization that enriches your spirit and allows you to be of contribution. Whatever it is, find something that helps utilize the other amazing talents you have that fill you up AND help create a better work life-balance.
4. Your relationships are being negatively impacted by your busyness.
When you give someone your full attention, they can feel it. It’s actually a gift that you give them. Conversely, when you’re constantly looking at your phone, fielding emails or phone calls when you’re talking with someone, it lands as disrespectful for the other person.
You’re subconsciously telling that person (partner, child, friend) that the phone call or email is more important in this moment than they are. This can leave someone with a bad taste in their mouth and over time can build up a layer of resentment.
Keys to recovery: When you’re home with your family or out with friends, Be with them fully. Listen to their stories, their jokes, their woes.
When you can do this, they’ll feel more seen, heard and loved by you, which goes a long, long way for building strong relationships. It also models loving and respectful behavior for your children (and your partner) to reflect back at you and with others.
5. You get fidgety when you try to just sit still.
When was the last time you just sat and relaxed? No, really, relaxed? If you can only count on one hand when you gave yourself permission to just sit, relax and ponder your toes over the last month, you might need a busyness intervention.
Keys to recovery: Relaxing is an art. Take time to revel in it, doing nothing at all – perhaps just watching the birds outside while sipping a cup o’ tea.
Meditating is a great way to give your working mind a way to relax because you can tell yourself “I’m working at relaxing.” It’s a practice, a muscle that needs to be developed just like going to the gym.
This tells the part of you that doesn’t want to sit idle (for fear of not accomplishing something), that you have a goal to achieve (which, by the way, fosters the release of dopamine in your brain, one of your feel good, happy chemicals).
6. You have a fear of boredom.
Empty space can mean boredom. Boredom means you might have to be with what IS. And the “what is” might be uncomfortable, so always having a book, or your smart phone or tablet with you is a way to avoid the empty spaces in between the busy parts.
If you fill up the empty spaces with yet more stuff, more “doing”, you can avoid feeling the things you don’t want to feel.
Keys to recovery: Next time you find yourself with some empty space, instead of filling it with another busyness diversion, how about just thinking about what you’re grateful for.
As you focus on what you’re grateful for, your brain naturally releases serotonin (another one of those great happy chemicals), which leaves you feeling good, feeling valued and boosts your confidence.
7. You’re constantly on the run and live in a continuous state of adrenaline-fueled stress.
Between running your business, managing your kids, cooking dinner, attending soccer games, and an assortment of other obligations and activities, when do you stop and take time to breathe? Being busy isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s all bringing you some joy.
It’s when it moves from busy, to addicted to busy, to burned out, that you’ve got a problem.
The constant state of stress that you keep yourself plugged into can take a serious toll on your health, impacting your immune system, depleting your adrenal glands and potentially creating a cascade of other ill effects on your body such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Keys to recovery: Determine what your core values are that are most important to you and make time for those things. For example, carve out time to eat dinner with your family and talk.
Get out of your head and tune into them and the events of their day. This sets a great example for your kids that they’re important, it helps you to slow down and breathe, and gives you all time to connect at a deeper level.
8. You feel guilty when you actually do have down time and wonder what you’re forgetting.
If you’re like me, you might have a running to-do list either in your head or on a sticky note or in it’s own special notebook. Especially as a working mom, there is ALWAYS something you need to do, could be doing, or should be doing (at least that is what you’re telling yourself).
So when you actually do have that time to relax there is still that little person in your brain reviewing the list, whispering in your ear “Have you completed this?”, “Shouldn’t you be doing this instead of just sitting there doing nothing?” You know that voice I’m talking about.
Keys to recovery: The best way to quiet the voice is to review your list and decide what can be dropped, delegated or dealt with at the appropriate time and place. Once you’ve gone over your list, then put it aside and enjoy your RnR time. You deserve it!
9. You find it difficult to focus on the task at ha… ooh a squirrel!
Read this, do that, answer this email, sit in on that conference call… and the list goes on. You’re a card carrying member of the Super Woman club no doubt, with a variety of awards for multi-tasker of the year, we’re sure. The problem is, all that multi-tasking really is just fracturing your ability to focus.
Keys to recovery: The truth is, your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Yup. Recent neuroscience tells us when you’re multi-tasking there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain. Which actually costs time, instead of saving you time.
Even though it’s in micro second bursts, it’s still only processing one thing at a time. So you’re better off, spending a designated amount of time on one thing before switching to the next thing. You’ll be more productive and focused and less stressed.
10. You constantly feel like you’re under pressure because “there isn’t enough time.”
No time to take care of yourself, to workout, eat right, have some downtime with your girlfriends etc. This is actually a way of procrastinating and avoiding the bigger game that your spirit it’s calling you towards. When you take time to pause, de-stress and get rejuvenated you’re actually able to think more clearly, be more focused and more productive.
We know it sounds crazy for you busyness addicts, but slowing down is actually the best way to speed up. Funny thing is, your ego actually wants you to stay in this state of overwhelm to justify it existence and keep you in a place of ‘status quo’, hiding out and playing small.
So how can you outsmart your ego?
Keys to recovery: Master your mindset. Your thoughts drive your emotions, actions and reactions. They also trigger the work of your Amygdala, your fight, flight or freeze mechanism in your limbic brain.
The more aware you become of your worries, fears and doubts that are running you ragged, the more consciously you can reclaim your power back from those fears and gain control over your mindset (and quiet your ego).
All of which feeds your spirit, and will help you step more boldly into the most brilliant, brightest version of yourself that you have to offer your family, friends and your work in the world.
Yes, slowing down may feel counter productive.
As you free up your mental bandwidth for the things that really are important and let go of the extraneous details that don’t matter, you’ll find yourself breathing more deeply, finding more joy in your day and having more time to spend with family, friends and yourself.
Hit reply and tell us abut how you’re overcoming your Addiction to Busyness. We’d love to know!