Busy can leave you feeling buried

You know what four-letter word I hear most these days? If I’m being honest, I overuse this word too: BUSY. From kids in elementary to professionals across all industries, we all say that we are busy, busy, busy. “Hey! How’s it going?” “Oh, just busy all the time. Always on the go. You?” “Same! I feel like I never slow down.” “Let’s get together some time and catch up!” “Yeah! For sure!” It’s nothing short of a miracle to find an open day in our schedules to meet for coffee or dinner and then we have the same conversation again the next time we bump into them. (If there are people who know me that are reading this are probably thinking: That’s how our conversations with you go, Steve!)

Even as I sat in a coffee shop to write this column, I was getting notifications – texts, snaps, emails, meeting invitations, friend requests, etc. – and I found myself getting increasingly frustrated. I kept thinking, “I’m trying to write something that people can relate to, something that will challenge our collective thinking, something that will inspire” and that still, small voice inside stopped me cold in my train of thought: “You could say no anytime you want. You create this madness. You build your schedule. This is on you!” Boom! Mic drop.

So, why are we so busy? Why are we filling every waking moment with something? Why are we running ourselves ragged? Perhaps we view our busyness as a badge of honor and trendy status symbol – a way to show our value, importance, or worth in this fast-paced society in which we live. Maybe our busyness can be attributed to a time filler. In this age of abundance of choice, we have infinite ways to fill time (online and off) instead of leaving idle moments as restorative white space. Maybe our busyness is a form of escapism — from idleness and slowing down to face the tough questions in life or to address an issue we have been avoiding.

I believe one of the biggest reasons we stay busy is because so many of us struggle with F.O.M.O., the fear of missing out.  Our spending has shifted from buying things (“have it all”) to experiences (“do it all”), packing our calendars (and social media feeds with the “highlight reel of life”). How many times have you wanted to say no to an invitation but this compulsion to not be left out kicks in and you say yes despite everything in you wants to say no and stay home. Have there been times that you have said yes because you feel that it will keep the peace?

If “keeping the peace” requires you to sacrifice YOUR peace - how long do you think you can sustain that uneasiness? Confrontation is rarely easy but more often than not, it frees up space in your mind by being rid of the weight of suppressing your emotions. How YOU feel matters too! If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself. No is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation.

We often talk about self-care in terms of physical things like drinking plenty of water, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and eating healthy. These things are important to be sure but some of the most helpful forms of self-care are those things that allow us to make decisions in line with what we value and believe as an individual. These things let us live our lives knowing that we have the power to make choices about what is best for us at any given point in time. Self-care can be: setting boundaries; staying at home; saying no; taking a step back; spending some time alone; forgiving yourself; putting yourself first; asking for help or for what you need. We must remember to take care of ourselves. We cannot pour out from an empty cup.

It is with this in mind that I have decided to take a break from writing this column as well as putting my radio show/podcast on hiatus. I greatly enjoy both platforms and don’t take this honor and privilege lightly. I will return but it is time I take my own advice and put into practice what I write and speak. I am not a machine and I too need some downtime and space to re-charge, re-focus, and simply rest. Thank you for sticking with me. A new column will be out on August 18th. Talk to you later!

Steve Sauceda