Being busy has somehow become a 21st century status symbol and a badge of honour. There is a notion that you are only important and hardworking if you are extremely busy ALL THE TIME.
Recent studies out of Columbia, Georgetown and Harvard universities say that ‘busyness’ is replacing conspicuous consumption as a public marker for our worth. Yes that’s right people are using just how ‘busy’ they are as a signal of their importance. However not only does this ‘busyness’ make you less productive it is also having a huge impact on your health and wellbeing.
Constantly being ‘busy’ can trigger chronic stress – which can worsen or increase the risk of conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, digestion issues, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease. The body loves short-term bursts of stress (think that surge of adrenalin to help you get to a project deadline) but it hates long-term stress. Long-term chronic stress leads to the overproduction of cortisol (our main stress hormone). Cortisol has a daily cycle – the amount of cortisol in the blood peaks in the morning (around 8am) and reaches its lowest point between midnight and 4am (a couple of hours after the onset of sleep). However constantly elevated serum cortisol levels (due to increased stress) is not ideal and has been linked to learning and memory problems, lowered immune function and bone density, increased weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol and heart disease. Chronic stress and resulting elevated cortisol can also increase your risk of depression, mental illness and a lowered life expectancy.
Prioritising your health is the only way to ensure that your ‘busyness’ doesn’t impact your health. Practicing regular self-love (mind, body and spirit) should be a non-negotiable. Schedule regular workout times in your diary as well as ‘you’ time – to read a book, meditate or just go for a walk outside. Research has shown that outdoor activities help boost mood and combat anxiety and stress so make it a part of your regular routine. To be the best version of yourself – at home, at the office, out with friends – you need to care for yourself. If you are serious about progressing your career you need to have a healthy and happy body to get there.
So how do we go about being less ‘busy’ in a busy, busy world? Easy, prioritise! What is important to you? Schedule your time (diarising can be a great way or using time management apps) so you can manage your time effectively and efficiently. Sometimes you WILL need to pull back – focus on what is important to you and tune into your values. Don’t strive for perfectionism (you’ll never get there anyway) and learn to say no when necessary. Set realistic attainable goals and surround yourself with positive, like-minded people.