Updated: Jan 5
Although I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions, I do enjoy setting intentions for what I want to bring into being in the new year. I review the habits I've dragged along like an old pair of shoes whose laces are always coming undone, to see how not to bring these into the coming year. Perhaps recycle them or trade them in for new and improved ones that will support me instead of keeping me back and causing me to trip all the time.
One of the expressions I've grown tired of and that I think carries with it an aura of affliction is "too busy.
In 2021, in spite of having slowed down due to the pandemic and also recognizing my penchant for "busy," I still managed to proudly wear my "too busy" badge of honour.
The word "busy" derives from Old English bisig meaning "careful, anxious," and later "continually employed or occupied, in constant or energetic action" related to Old Dutch bezich, Low German besig, but having no known connection with any other Germanic or Indo-European language. (etymonline.com)
The latter meaning describes myself and our society's penchant for continually being busy and for talking at length about how busy we are. I'm not saying that we don't have cause for being busy. The way our economy is structured, most of us are working two or more jobs just to keep a roof over our heads and food on the family table. It's the vague nature of the expression "too busy" that is in need of a revamp--at least for me--as it can lead to misunderstandings about what the person is actually doing.
There are times when someone tells me they're too busy to meet up and it crosses my mind that I must not be that important to them. Yet as a writer who needs a lot of alone time to work I've used the excuse of being "too busy" more times than I care to admit.
UNPACK TOO BUSY
I realize that actually telling my cherished ones why I can't come out and play, would be a better way to approach it. Yet it's not only other people who I think deserve an honest explanation, I also deserve one from myself.
The more honest I am to myself about what I want from life and who I wish to spend time with, the easier it will be to be forthright with others. The expression "too busy" is vague, but it also has negative connotations that imply I have little choice in how I spend my time.
Here are some things I plan to say more to others that give "too busy" a positive spin:
I'd love to see you another time but I've a looming deadline.
I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed lately with all my work and need some downtime. Can we reschedule?
I made a commitment to myself to ______ so I'm not able to see you today. Let's reschedule.
USE TOOLS & RESOURCES TO BE LESS BUSY
There are advantages to scheduling time in our day that's the opposite of busy. As a result of the pandemic, and even before that, many of us suffer from chronic stress. This prolonged condition can worsen existing conditions, including: mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke.
Here are some ways to recharge your batteries and feel less stressed:
Try mindful writing. Get a notebook, pen, and set your timer for five minutes. Write about what comes to you. Don't stop to read what you're writing, just write until the timer sounds. Take a look at my new intro course to mindful writing called Ease Into Calm 5-5-5
Listen to relaxing music.
Have a nap!
Do a craft or an arty activity with no end goal in mind. Just have fun!
See a friend for coffee. Virtually or in person.
Walk in nature. Check out a nearby park.
Do some yoga. There are many free online yoga videos to choose from.
Write a letter to someone you love. Handwriting can be really relaxing and connects to a different part of our brain than when we type on a computer.
Write a poem. Try a haiku or free form.
Play with a pet (if you don't have one, then borrow a dog or cat from a friend.)
The more we become aware of our stories of "busy" the better we can cultivate our less busy personas in favour of balance and joyfulness. It's a daily challenge and not one that we'll resolve overnight. Being aware of when we use the words "too busy" is a great start.