The Status and Impact of Being “too busy”

Many, or even most people I know or have worked with, and particularly after having children, feel they are overwhelmed by the demands of a busy life and in particular, the demands of work (which may or may not be job-related) — even if they like their jobs!  Many — to cope with the stresses that come with too little downtime, or the inability to “turn it off” once they are off of work — pour even more of themselves into their work so they are distracted from those feelings and feel even MORE productive.  This blog documents some research that shows that being busy has become a status symbol in America (and Canada I suggest as well where we are some of the least likely to take our earned holiday for fear of looking lazy to our employers)!  As a counsellor and psychotherapist, a worker, a mother and so on, I have, over time, seen first hand, impact of sustaining that status symbol — one that equates being too busy with having a great work ethic. It impacts our marriages, our time with our children and other family members, time for hobbies, time for nurturing friendships, and so on.  The result is that people feel more burnt out, socially isolated and unsupported than ever — often with no one to talk to but their therapist.  This is about more than paying lip service to the idea of work-life balance.  The trick is to reflect on where we learned these patterns, and see them as changeable as opposed to fixed; to learn how to say “no” by putting boundaries into place so that we can better manage our time, and the expectations of others who are as overwhelmed as we are; and finally, to purposefully and meaningfully, carve out time to stop so that we can actually hear ourselves think, reflect on what is important, and recharge our batteries.

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