Sometimes it is as if this sense of being busy gets right under our skin. Busyness has a way of seeping into our bloodstream so that all we can think of day and night is, I am so busy.
We just think over and over again about how busy we are, and the pressure starts to boil within us, until we are running through our days convinced that there is no way we can handle everything we need to get done.
But the truth is we often aren’t as busy as our mind makes our life out to be.
It is just that the image of all those commitments on our calendar, the pile of dishes on the counter and the knowledge that people are depending on us is very convincing.
So convincing that we are often sure that we have no time for ourselves, for our health or to relax and slow down, even a little.
Somehow, knowing that tomorrow is busy makes us start rushing today.
This is because the body doesn’t know the difference between a thought and something happening in reality.
If we are sending the body the message through our thoughts that we are uber-busy and super stressed then this is what the body is going to know to be real.
But between the busy moments, we aren’t busy.
Do you see what I mean?
We all have times of the day that we aren’t busy. Times that there is no need to rush, no need to stress, but often we spend these times thinking about busy and thinking about stress and therefore turning the peaceful, quiet moments of our life—unintentionally and unnecessarily—into stressful moments.
This is the true meaning of mindfulness.
Showing up for the moment as it is.
And it takes courage and discipline.
We need to show up for the stressful moments. We need to bring our best selves to our challenges and stay aware and awake and try to turn all challenges into opportunities.
But we also need to show up for the peaceful moments and milk them for all the nurturing relaxation and rest they hold, so that we can rejuvenate our bodies, minds and souls.
We can ask ourselves in each moment, “Is there stress here? Is there challenge here?” And not just stress and challenge in our thoughts, but in the actual moment.
For instance, if we are just reading a book quietly on the couch and we look around and see that we are safe and sound and there is no demanding pressure happening right now (yes, maybe tomorrow is going to be busy and stressful, but we are asking ourselves about the reality of this moment) then we need to take a deep breath and set a limit with our own minds. We need to tell our minds that we will deal with the stress when it occurs, but for now we are taking a break.
Then we can sink deeper into the couch or bed and enjoy the book we are reading and know we are fully capable of handling the stress when it occurs, and we don’t have to spend our resting moments planning for stressful moments.
You see, most of us are maxing out our body’s ability to manage stress by being stressed too much.
Yes, we have busy weeks.
Yes, we have responsibilities.
But we are also very capable people who have the ability to rise to the challenge in the moment without having to replay the stress stories in our minds all the time.
When it is time to work, then work.
But when it is time rest, please, rest.
The answer to getting through a busy week is to recognize that there are a lot of moments that aren’t busy and to ensure that we are not busy in these moments by setting a boundary with the mind.
We have the skill of choice, and using this skill to choose to slow down when slowing down is a viable option is one of the best things we can do for our own health and own ability to sustain our energy to be of service to others.
Busy weeks are going to happen, but that doesn’t mean we need to get swept under and drown in their midst.
The life raft of quiet and calm is always available. We just need to climb onto it.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Toby Israel