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“I’m crazy busy.” Ever said this or gotten this response from someone when you asked them about their week or even weekend?
That was my response not too long ago, or I’d say, “I’m so swamped,” “too much going in,” “got no breather,” and so on.
As a technology professional in Silicon Valley and mom of two kids, here’s what one of my weekend days — pre-Covid — would look like.
Then on Monday morning, my packed work schedule and my kids’ school-related activities would take over. I felt like a hamster on a spinning wheel.
And that’s just a depiction of one of my weekends before I made big changes. In other common scenarios, after a day of work, I’d pick up my phone and start scrolling. What started with scrolling for “just a few minutes” turned into an entire hour. Emails, websites, and personalized ads are a daisy chain to a plethora of pointless clicks. I’d feel guilty as a pile of dirty clothes stared at me and realize I was late to pick up something important. Then I’d feel a gush of panic: “I have so much to do!”
For far too many women, hearing phrases like “You’re Superwoman,” “How do you do it all?”, and “Wow, you do so much ” feel like a badge of honor or a measurement of success. But are the badges worth the anxiety and overwhelm that come with it?
We live in a world where technology has enabled us to do way more things than we were able to, say, even a decade ago. It’s a double-edged sword, if you ask me. From toddlers to young adults to people in midlife, the notion appears to be that if you’re not busy, you suck in life. The myriad social media posts can leave one feeling like everyone is doing so much all that time. The amount of information fed to our brains and the rate at which we multitask is only leaving more people unfulfilled and unhappy.
In some of those moments of feeling a void in spite of constantly being busy, I found the paths to my silent sanctuary: stillness.
“Be still like a mountain,
and flow like a great river.”
— Lao Tse Tung
The dictionary defines stillness as a state of freedom from storm or disturbance. Stillness is not about the opposite of movement; stillness is an energetic quality of being. Stillness is a choice and a way of finding your inner calm.
I implemented a few changes that allow me to reduce multitasking and stay fully focused on one task, like writing this article with full attention and heart. I still get to many things, but they are now the most important ones for my wellbeing. This has led me to authentically respond, “No, I’m not too busy” or “I don’t have too many plans” and feel amazing saying it. Here are a few ways that might help navigate through similar situations.
Typically you make a schedule for what’s ahead. I went reverse and observed for a few weeks how I spent my days, and it was clear that I led myself into the mundane busyness.
Write down how you filled your calendar in the past week. Think about how you chose to spend your time — what jumps out to you as not important or valuable? I picked the top three unimportant things and decided to replace them with what would be more important for my overall wellbeing.
One of my favorite questions to ask myself is, “If I didn’t organize my closet drawers, what’s the worst that can happen?” And on the flip side, I’ll ask myself, “If I do a half-hour brisk walk, will it be taking me to my higher self or keep me well?”
Asking yourself already gives you a pause before hitting the pedal to move faster. The answer may lead to great wisdom.
A lot of us who are accustomed to being “busy” and resourceful have a huge problem saying no. More than making someone else feel bad, it is self ego that would not settle declining something. The art of the polite no is in the genuine explanation for the unacceptance. Be very clear why the answer is a no to an invitation and don’t craft a lame excuse. With a polite response, your bond will remain intact.
There’s increasing hype but also many misconceptions about meditation. Meditation can be highly effective, but if the basic grounding of your being is off balance, meditation may not be the solution to inner peace. For some people, the act of sitting with your eyes closed may not bring you the stillness and connection to your intuition. Instead, you may find that activities like observing or walking in nature, cooking, or listening to music provide similar or better results.
“If the basic grounding of your being is off balance, meditation may not be the solution to inner peace.”
Instead of being thankful for having a lot of things to do, when you have nothing to do even for a few minutes, say a huge thanks for that downtime and give yourself permission to settle into it with a few long, deep breaths. It is much needed to restore and recalibrate.
Are you crazy busy? What do you think of this advice? Share your comments below.
Vidya Mahabaleswar uses storytelling extensively in her professional life as a technology product leader. Her desire to reach more people who can benefit from sharing her triumph in her health quest led her to tell her story in her first book, Holistic Healing. With over a decade and half of research, including experiments adapting several holistic approaches to lifestyle and diet, Vidya has gained successful outcomes that have proven to be sustainable.
Vidya is a regular practitioner of traditional yoga, meditation, and also an avid promoter of plant-based eating. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family and enjoys gardening, biking, hiking, and travel. Her latest spirit of inquiry is observing life through the lens of her teenage daughter. Vidya is interested in connections that aspire to bring a holistic and natural lifestyle to a wider audience.
Our mission is to help you deal with your jumbles and find your flow.
Adventures in Perimenopause, essays by women in perimenopause and menopause
In My Prime: interviews with women thriving in midlife
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