Nowadays, opportunities are everywhere, the career ladder is competitive, and there are a slew of “good things” to do, so it's no surprise that we are an insanely busy society. Stop anyone on the street and ask them, “How are you doing?” and you’ll likely hear the word “busy” in their response. Although a full schedule isn’t inherently unhealthy, sometimes it feels like our schedule is controlling us, not the other way around.
There is a strong correlation between stress and health problems, from weight issues and digestive problems to eating disorders. Our mental and physical health are not independent of each other, so it’s not surprising that our stress levels affect our bodies. More than that, a swamped schedule can crowd out positive health habits, such as sleeping, packing meals, and exercising
So why do we jump on the busyness bandwagon if it wreaks such havoc in our lives? For some of us, we want to please or impress people, and can’t bring ourselves to say the dreaded word, “no.” For others of us, we feel that if we don’t agree to do something, no one else will.
Whatever your reason, here are a few ways to avoid unnecessary stress in your life.
- Write down your priorities. These are the responsibilities that only you can do (i.e. parenting your child, going to work, etc) as well as the things, relationships, and causes you care about most.
- Compare your priorities with your opportunities. Say you want to prioritize time with your family, and an opportunity comes up to coordinate the school bake sale. This may be a legitimate need, and you might be perfect for the job, but it may not actually match any of your priorities.
- Take a peek at your calendar. Are there things on your schedule that don’t fit with any of your priorities? These things should be the first things to go.
- Block off time on your calendar for health habits. Exercise, sleep, relaxation, and even cooking or packing meals are all great ways to care for your body, and there’s no reason to be ashamed of scheduling them on your calendar. That way if something comes up, you can honestly say that you “have other plans.”