For the majority of my life, I have been fairly high-energy… I like to stay busy doing activities I enjoy and being involved in projects I’m excited about.
Even as a child, I was very involved in extra-curricular activities — not to the point where I was burnt-out or over-stimulated, but in a way that allowed me to try all sorts of activities until I found the ones I enjoyed most. I then focused more of my time and energy on those activities as I got older.
Over time, my high-energy personality and dominant can-do attitude allowed me to work, volunteer, serve, and say “yes” to so many different activities, opportunities, and people without feeling run-down, over-worked, over-tired, or like I needed a break from my life.
I enjoyed my very full and busy lifestyle. I felt fulfilled.
Until I didn’t…
Sometime over the past 8-10 years (most likely since having children), I decided I really didn’t want or need to put so many “extra things” on my plate at the same exact time. Even though I have many useful skills, gifts, and abilities, I don’t need to use them ALL, all the time!
Can anyone relate!
Last week, I shared my 5 simple responses for BORED children. As a follow-up post, I thought it would be fun to share my 4 simple responses for BUSY adults!
The next time you feel too BUSY or stretched just a little too thin, try one of these 4 responses to quickly quiet, calm, and de-stress your day.
B = Breathe
I know it sounds like a wimpy response — really, what can a simple breath do anyway?
But in reality, sitting quietly and focusing on a few deep breaths will force you to stop whatever you’re doing, get your mind off your stress for a few seconds, pay attention to your body, and just SLOW DOWN — even if it’s only for 15 seconds.
The extra oxygen to your brain and blood cells is a positive as well — it will give you more energy and combat drowsiness.
No matter where you are or what you are doing, you CAN use deep breaths as a way to reduce any busy, stressful feelings you have.
U = Unplug
I think it goes without saying that much of the stress in our lives could be eliminated if we had no email, text messages, voice messages, or social media messages to continually check and respond to (especially if you have a job that constantly reaches out to you, even when you’re not at work).
There is a never-ending list of things we can (and maybe should) do each day, but I’ve found my own level of busyness feels less whenever I unplug.
And this does NOT have to be a major production of turning off every electronic device in your home for hours at a time. It could simply be silencing all your notifications for an hour after you get home in the evenings and throughout dinner.
Another idea would be to go “screen-free” as a family on Sunday afternoons (or whatever period of time in the week works for your family.)
The point is not that technology is bad, it’s just that technology often causes extra busyness (and sometimes extra stress) so by consciously taking some time to unplug every day and every week, you can regroup, focus on other things that are also important to you (home, family, hobbies, friends, etc.) and then get back to your work online with fresh eyes and renewed energy.
S = Say NO!
Ahhh…. my favorite one on the list (no surprise there!)
For my entire adult life, I have been an advocate of saying NO when a request for my time, money, energy, etc. doesn’t fit with my talents, my gifts, my season of life, my goals, etc.
Obviously, this is not possible every single time — we can’t just spend our days ONLY doing things we want to do. However, whenever there are extra requests for my time, money, energy, or any other resource, I give myself a grace-period to think it over by simply responding “Let me check my schedule and get back to you tomorrow.” or “Let me check with Dave (or whomever) and get back to you tomorrow.”
This way, I don’t have to commit to anything on-the-spot, but I also don’t have to say “NO” right away either. I have time to think about it, and the other person knows they will get their answer the next day (make sure you actually DO get back to them).
If you need help, motivation, or a little encouragement saying “NO”, read this post!
Y = Yoga (or something to relax yourself)
Yoga was one of the only things I could think of for the letter “Y” — but I don’t think you need to do yoga specifically in order to de-stress or un-busy your life! Anything you find relaxing could fit into this category — even if it doesn’t start with a “Y”!
I’m personally not big into exercise, but I DO try to move regularly throughout the day. I stand up, stretch, do a few lunges or squats, do 30 jumping jacks or high-knees, roll around on the floor with my kids, jump on the tramp, go for walks or bike rides, etc. etc.
I’ve found that this regular movement throughout the day helps my energy levels to stay up and actually helps me to relax.
Other ideas would be to light a candle, lay down for 10-15 minutes, read a chapter in your book, bring fresh flowers inside, write in a journal, enjoy a favorite beverage or snack, get a massage, sit outside and listen to the sounds of nature, etc.
These suggestions are all fairly generalized — which I suppose is necessary if they are going to work for the majority. I realize they might not all work, or even be possible, for your current stage of life. However, I do hope these 4 responses to BUSY give you something SIMPLE to try the next time you need to de-stress and calm your crazy, chaotic day!
I honestly still enjoy having days full of activities and to-do’s, but I’ve learned my limits (most of the time) and I know not to push myself too much or I’ll resent the activities and be fairly grouchy!
I know I can tolerate more busyness in the mornings than I can in the afternoons or evenings.
I know I prefer being home in the evenings and on weekends versus going out.
I know I’d rather host an activity or event versus going somewhere else.
I know what activities and to-dos I can more-easily accomplish with children along and what activities and to-dos are better to save until Dave is home or the kids are with grandparents.
Knowing these things about myself helps to greatly reduce my feelings of stress and being “too busy” — however, utilizing my 4 responses above also helps me de-stress, feel less busy, and calm any craziness in my days!
What are your sure-fire ways to reduce busyness?