5 Tips to Be Busy and Healthy at the Same Time
This past July, as I was preparing to go on vacation, I had so much to do before I left that I felt completely overwhelmed. My brain was racing a million miles per minute, and my to-do list kept growing exponentially. Eventually, I forced myself to stop and take a moment to evaluate my thoughts and behavior. I realized that I’d allowed many of my old habits to sneak in: rumination, insecurity, obsession with my dayplanner, skipping yoga, worrying about being imperfect, and a general sense of unease that was permeating my entire being.
Luckily, this self-awareness allowed me to quickly implement several personal development tools that I’ve been working with for years. I’ve summarized these tools into five tips to help you be busy and healthy at the same time.
1. Learn how to say no.
This skill is huge. If you say yes to every task that comes across your desk, you will not only feel overwhelmed, but the quality of all of your work will suffer. You will also have to kiss much of your social life and hobbies goodbye. A good way to learn how to say no is to begin by prioritizing. What tasks absolutely need to get done? What tasks are you saying yes to even though a little voice in the pit of your stomach is knotting up and saying no? What tasks do you enjoy the most? The key is to find a balance between these three questions and not be afraid to say no to things that aren’t serving you.
2. Plan ahead.
People will often say that they can’t eat healthy or exercise or meditate because they don’t have time. In response to this issue, Gabby Bernstein often says, “Well, do you have time to feel like crap?” In other words, we spend a lot of time doing unhealthy things that make us feel crappy. With a little bit of advance planning, I guarantee that you can fit self-care into even the busiest schedule. As an example, Thursdays are very busy days for me. I work from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and then I have an evening poetry class from 5:30 – 7:30. By the time I get home, it’s usually around eight or nine. My secret weapon on days like this is to plan ahead. On Wednesday evenings, I prepare my breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Thursday. This keeps me from giving into the urge to stop at fast food joints for meals. I wake up at 6:30 on Thursdays to make sure I have time to meditate before starting my day, and when I get home, I do a quick (15 – 20 minute) yoga practice and make sure I don’t do anything work-related before bed.
3. Slow down.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re really busy, things often cascade into negativity? For example, you might drop a pile of important papers down the stairs, and then a half hour later, you stub your toe and drop your cell phone into the toilet. Then your computer freezes, and you lose a bunch of your work. These events often happen because we’re feeling flustered and moving too fast. The key here is to slow down. Pay attention to what you’re doing. Move slowly and purposefully.
When I find myself rushing, I’ll often say something to myself like, “I have plenty of time to get where I’m going.”
Author Stephen Cope recently provided me with a great example of the power of going slowly. Stephen and I were having lunch, and we both ordered tea. As we poured our tea, we quickly realized that the little silver teapots that the restaurant had provided were leaking everywhere. I started to feel flustered, because I was spilling tea everywhere and making a big mess in front of an author that I really admire. I wanted to get the situation over with as soon as possible, so I poured my tea as quickly as I could, which resulted in water all over my side of the table. When I looked up, Stephen was still pouring his tea—excruciatingly slowly—and he wasn’t spilling a drop. As soon as he recognized that the tea was spilling when he poured quickly, he decided to slow down. His patience resulted in less mess (and some embarrassment on my part!).
4. Keep things in perspective.
As I stood waiting for the bus last week, a woman in a wheelchair started making conversation with me. I’ve seen her around my neighborhood a few times, and she’s always very pleasant. I immediately thought, “This woman has no legs, and she’s one of the most pleasant people I’ve ever met. What the hell do I have to be stressed about?” I then felt the stress draining from my body. Remember, stress is largely about perception. You can’t choose what happens to you, but you always have a choice about how you react to what happens to you. Choose peace.
5. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
When life gets busy, sometimes we just need to let go of our standards. I had high hopes of getting a ton of things done before I left for vacation. Did I check everything off of my to-do list? No. Will the world end? No.
We often set impossible standards for ourselves, and then hold ourselves to those standards like we’re holding someone hostage.
The reality is that, in many cases, the rest of the world won’t even notice that you didn’t check everything off of your list because they’re too obsessed with their list. So let go.
By implementing these five steps in my life this past summer, I was able to leave work on Friday at 5:00, feeling mentally and physically healthy, stress-free, and excited for my vacation. The next time you start feeling overwhelmed, try implementing one or two of these tips and let me know how it goes!
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
*Photo Credit: www.stevewiens.com