Busy, busy and more busy. That seems to be a constant theme in modern day life. Have you recently tried to plan a get together that involves more than two people? Forget about it. By the time everyone pulls out their calendars to look for a day when everyone is available, chances are you are at least a month out maybe two. Call someone up at the last minute to see if they want to grab a cup of coffee or a beer? Forget about it. Busy.
Lately I have found myself pondering the price we pay for being busy and based off a strange experiment I found myself in the middle of; I would say that this national anthem of busy is making for an unwell nation.
I no longer think it is just coincidence for many of us that the busier we get, the worse we feel. My own experience is that busy creates a slew of bad behaviors that because we are too busy to notice creates an absence of good health. Then we get caught up on the hamster wheel of poor health except again we don’t realize we are in poor health because we are too busy to actually know our bodies.
In the past year as I have moved my yogic lifestyle off the mat and into all areas of my life, I can no longer deny the correlations to how I feel and the choices that I make. Prior to choosing to be mindful of seemingly simple things like my diet and sleeping habits, I felt like shit most of the time. It turns out that when I go to bed by 11pm, and get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, I don’t need the steady IV drip of coffee that was a staple for most of my adult life. Now, coffee past early afternoon is no longer tasty. You have to understand that I have been essentially freebasing coffee since I was a teenager. Up until a few years ago, putting away a pot or two of coffee plus a daily latte (or two or three) was my norm. The times when my coffee consumption was unintentionally cut were absolute disasters barring pregnancy when my body clearly was trying to send me a signal.
For more years than I care to share when it came to my diet, my only concerns were the numbers on the scale. I would alter my eating habits just enough to make the numbers on the scale went down along with the number on my clothing tags. If the number on the tags said 4 or 6, I was ecstatic and if it said 12 or 14, I was ready to stuff myself into a large Hefty bag and stay hidden until the numbers went down. Weight Watchers which isn’t a bad program helped me keep the numbers acceptable as long as I ate in a manner that was my incompatible to who I really am but as I have lamented before in this space, I often felt I needed something more.
Turns out when I stop being busy long enough that I can be mindful and present I recognize why I am eating and I am naturally mindful of the choices that I make. I don’t snack much if at all anymore and when I do, it generally stems from the fact that I am bored, anxious or suffering from PMS. If I choose to snack, I want to know why but when I am too busy, I can’t ask those questions and as result when I am busy, I often mindlessly overeat which creates a whole other set of issues. Sluggish and stuffed for starters.
Even being mindful of what media I consume seems to have an impact on my health. When I am too busy to settle down with a good book and instead choose to feast on the non-stop media buffet of bad news and social media, I now notice that it is harder to quiet my mind and that what I am consuming in those moments affects me deeply. News is good (a complete lack of awareness about the world around us isn’t the answer either) but a non-stop diet of upsetting and at times gut wrenching news and shallow surface connections in lieu of moments spent in the presence of loved ones is just bad for me.
I am a broken record these days and I know it; but allowing my mind to actually be quiet enough that I am alone with my true self feels like the miracle drug to me. Does it solve every problem, of course not? It does however allow me to see what is really an issue and what is just more of the mindless hum in the background creating unnecessary stress and strain.
I didn’t know how good mindful living was until the past couple of weeks when I consciously and intentionally chose to slide back in to my old safety blanket of bad habits. After the bombs started dropping in my professional and personal life, it felt like too much work to be mindful. It started out innocently enough, but it quickly snowballed and the end result is I feel bad. Real bad and yeah, I am busy.
My choice is clear; I cannot allow myself to get so busy that I stop being aware. No matter how rough things are allowing myself to stop caring enough to take care of myself is simply not an option. In order to live fully and completely even in the midst of life’s storms, I need to be in good health and for me good health demands that I stop being too busy to make time for myself. Universe, I have received the message loud and clear, now let me go back a cup of ginger tea.