Article by Sarah Wall.
How many times have you heard this from other people? How many times have you said it yourself? It’s a phrase I’m hearing a lot more of these days. I’ve caught myself saying it too.
Today’s fast-paced society appears to value our culture of being busy. How often have you heard the buzzwords ‘hustle’, ‘growth-hacking’, ‘hit the ground running’, ’24-7’ etc.? I could fill a page with buzzwords that encourage us to be switched on and levelling-up around the clock.
Have You Ever Thought About What A Constant State Of Busyness Does To Your Psyche?
It’s become normal to rush through the day, trying to juggle work, family and social life. It’s not surprising that many people find themselves feeling tired at the end of the day, with little energy left for fun activities. Being busy often leads to feelings of stress. Feeling stressed occasionally is normal, however some people struggle with stress, and the related feelings of anxiety, on a daily basis.
Reflection: Take a moment to pause now to reflect upon the following:
- How often you have experienced feelings of stress or of being overwhelmed in the past week?
- How many times in the past month have you said ‘yes’ to something or someone, when you really wanted to say ‘no’?
The Effects Of Stress On Your Body
When you feel anxious or stressed your breathing is shallow and your breath is concentrated in the upper part of your chest. Shallow breathing is inefficient for absorption of oxygen and causes low emission of carbon dioxide. This has a negative effect on your body by sending a distress signal to your autonomic nervous system (associated with the fight or flight response).
When perpetual stress and shallow breathing occurs, your heart starts beating faster, body temperature will fluctuate and your body can eventually spiral into a state of panic. Continuous exposure to stress, without adequate tools to manage it, may lead to disease in your body over the long-term.
“A few cycles of deep breathing can instantly change your mood, increase your focus and elevate your energy level.”
If you’ve been feeling that life has been moving too fast for you, the good news is you can slow down at any time. You need to make a conscious choice to do so. With awareness of your habits, you have the opportunity to make alternative choices in the future.
How To Get Back In Balance
Here are three tips to help you get back in balance and they only take a few minutes a day.
Tip #1: Feel balanced with deep breathing
With inquiry and practice you can cultivate a deep and even flow of breath which sends a signal to your body to relax.
- Sit up tall with a straight spine, bring your awareness to your belly and allow it to soften and relax.
- Begin with a slow, deep inhalation for a count of three, filling your belly, then ribcage, then upper chest with oxygen.
- Pause for a second.
- Then exhale from your upper chest, rib cage then belly, drawing your belly in towards your spine at the end.
- Pause again, then repeat a few more times.
Practicing deep breathing for a few minutes each day will help to keep feelings of stress under control.
Tip #2: Settle your mind with meditation
Even if you eat healthy, exercise and are getting plenty of sleep, you may still find yourself feeling out of balance when your mind is running a hundred miles an hour.
The mind tends to jump around from thought to thought, obsessing over an event in the past, or what might happen in the future. In yoga, this is referred to as ‘monkey mind.’
Taming the monkey mind
I’ve heard many reasons why people can’t meditate, such as “I don’t have time”, “I can’t sit still”, or “I have too many thoughts”.
“Meditation is not about sitting still until your thoughts stop.”
Thoughts will keep coming in meditation. This is normal. Using meditation to tame your monkey mind allows you to disconnect from your thoughts and to observe them for what they are – just thoughts – they do not define you.
There are two general types of meditation; meditation with an object (such as focusing on your breath), and meditation without an object (sitting quietly to observe your thoughts, without following them).
There are numerous benefits of meditation, on both the physical and mental level, when practiced regularly, including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase in serotonin production – the chemical responsible for improving your mood
- Improves the immune system
- Reduction in feelings of anxiety
- Emotional stability improves as you gain clarity and a more peaceful state of mind
- Personal transformation – as you learn more about yourself and the nature of your mind you may become more aware of your reactions to people and situations you encounter and more curious about life and your place in it.
The key is not to give up on meditation too soon. Begin with very short meditations, until you get comfortable sitting for longer periods of time. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find you can’t sit for even one minute when you are first getting started. With practice and patience, you will soon start to realize some the benefits of meditation.
Tip #3: Connect to the wisdom of your body
Are you a people pleaser? Are you afraid to say ‘no’ to others? Part of the problem of our busyness culture is that people are often afraid to say no and take on too many tasks at the expense of their own well-being.
Have you ever stopped to notice how it feels in your body when you are going against your true instinct? For example, you may say yes to someone’s request initially, but then regret it later. I get a sinking feeling in my belly when I’m not being authentic.
While it may not be possible to say no to everyone, it is ok to ask for time to think about your response, before simply blurting out a ‘yes’.
Tune into your intuition practice
Not everyone recognizes or identifies with their intuition daily, however most people can say they have experienced a gut feeling at one point in their life. Your intuition allows you to receive warning signs when something is off, so that you can address it. If you have a gut feeling about something and you are experiencing a sensation in your body — that something is not right — then listen to it.
You can practice this today as you engage with people by noticing how your body is feeling in various situations. When you meet someone, who is gregarious, compared to a shy person, notice any sensations you are experiencing in your body.
Simply by being aware, you will notice the signals and recognise your patterns. Your intuition is like a muscle; the more you tune into it, the stronger it becomes. Like a well-developed muscle, the stronger your intuition, the better equipped you will be to navigate life’s decisions. You will better understand yourself and will be able to distinguish what is truly in your best interests when it comes to making decisions.
You have the power to direct your life
You can take a few minutes for yourself each day to reset and breathe deeply. You can control your thoughts, which empowers you to have a balanced outlook on life. You can listen to your gut feelings to determine what’s right for you. When you are feeling in balance, it allows you to experience a more joyful life with ease. Hopefully you will no longer find yourself uttering the phrase “I’m busy.”
Sarah is a Vancouver-based author, speaker, coach, yoga teacher and Reiki master, serving local and international clients. It’s her mission to see you thrive and to help you create a life you love using simple tools that can make a difference today.
She has written a book “Life Reboot: An Inner Wisdom Guide To Finding Your Passion And Purpose” now available on Amazon and Kindle.
To learn more about Sarah, connect with her at Body Mind Spirit Coach.