The New Four Letter Word: Busy

One of the most common complaints that I hear from patients is being too busy to take care of their health.  Busy has become one of the major obstacles to taking responsibility for our health.  We even wear our busy like a badge of honor: “I am so busy I don’t even have time to drink water!”.  This must be a very important person who can not even drink water.   Being busy can be a way to get praise or attention.  However, that attention is often attention that is a vicious cycle of ‘poor me’ attention as in “I don’t even have time to take care of myself because I am so busy.”  This becomes a cycle that can lead to feeling powerless over our health conditions and victims to our own schedules.  Busy has become the scape goat for health conditions that need our time and attention.

“I know that if I only had time to make dinner and lunch instead of eating out so often, that I could loose weight and bring my cholesterol and blood pressure down.  But I am just too busy. ”

How do you get out of the busy cycle?  First step is to remove the word busy from your vocabulary.  When you are tempted to describe your day/week/month/year/life as busy, find another word that is more empowering.   For example when someone ask how your day is going, you can answer:  “I accomplished a lot today.”  Just changing that one word will change your focus in your day and put the power of time back in your control.

When we are not busy, we have time for everything that is important.  Our days are full of choices and decisions.  Every decision we make, we are also making a decision to not do something else.  We don’t have time to do everything we want to do everyday, but we do have time to do everything that we value as important.  If eating healthy meals, exercise, drinking water, sleep, are not valuable to you, then chances are that you will fill up the time with what is more important.  Even if we could add hours onto the day, you would still fill that time with what is important to you.  When you decide that health is important, you will find the time to do the steps necessary to take care of your body.

I have found that being aware of how you spend time in your day is a choice,  you will have the power to make changes.  For example, you may say that you have to go to work therefore you have no time for healthy living.   While it is true that working may take a big piece of the time in your day, no one is forcing you to go to work.  Going to work is a choice you make so you can pay the mortgage, drive a car, buy food, clothes, go on vacation etc.  But that is a choice.  You could choose to be unemployed or change employment.  Once we realize that every aspect of our day is a choice, you can begin to choose those activities that are in alignment with your goals. If you can see work as a choice, then you also have the choice to go to sleep so you can think clearly, or the choice to eat in a way that supports your ideal weight, or exercise your body so you can have energy.  Once you accept that time at work is a choice, then you will find that the way you fill your time away from work is also a choice.

If you are a busy person that finds yourself saying, “I wish I wasn’t so busy so I could : drink water/cook better meals/exercise/get to bed at night/do an activity that I love/spend time with friends,”  then start with taking out the word busy.  Next step is to make everything you do in the day a choice instead of an obligation coming from someone else.  Once you take responsibility for your time, you will make the time for everything you decide is important.  As you make time and take responsibility for feeling good, you will in turn be rewarded with feeling less busy.

At the end of your life, you will never look back and wish you had only been more busy in life and spent less time taking care of yourself.

Dr. Jill Scott ND