Most of us are not strangers to the feeling that we could and should always be doing more. In order to avoid that feeling we often take on more than we can handle, overscheduling and overworking ourselves. But it’s not our fault! We have all been influenced by our environment for our entire lives, learning that in our society, being busy and/or productive is a good thing, and idleness is looked down upon.
We are taught from an early age that there is always room for self-improvement, and we are supposed to utilize our time to learn and grow as much as possible. As kids, our curiosity and drive to try new things/develop new interests leads to adding sports teams and activity groups after school. Busy kids then turn into busy teens, and the pressure to succeed only increases with age.
Teenagers are told they need to get good grades & involve themselves in several student activities in school in order to get accepted into college. And they need to go to a good college so they can get a good job that pays the bills. This results in young adults often overloading ourselves with additional schooling, training, or responsibilities that will be viewed as impressive to potential employers. Once you finally have a job, overtime can be expected or your productivity level is monitored.
The glorification of being busy needs to stop, quite frankly. Constant busyness can impact your mental and physical health through burnout, exhaustion, and stress, meaning that it's just not healthy. Lack of sleep and too much stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and minds, and we should instead prioritize our own wellbeing over schoolwork and other stressors.
But at this point, it’s not just parents or employers that tell us to increase our workload, we internalize that message and feel an obligation to do more and more. For some of us, the pressure we place on ourselves to be productive is even more overbearing than the external pressure.
In my own life, this obligation to be busy led me to attempt to juggle a full time case worker job, full time graduate school, planning a wedding, taking care of a puppy, and running a small business all at once. Eventually, I became burnt out of everything and essentially broke down for a bit.
It doesn’t have to get to that point, though.You don’t need to push yourself to the point of burnout before you take a break!
Imagine you are filling up a tank of gas - the more gas you put in when you fill up at the gas station, the further you’re able to travel. If you stop for a short amount of time and only put $5 worth of gas in your car, you’d only be able to drive for a short distance before running out, but taking a longer pit-stop to refuel completely will get you further down the road. After a few more hours of driving, the low fuel light will come on again, and another stop will be necessary.
If we allow our cars to recharge or refuel, why would we not allow ourselves to do the same? Ignoring the low fuel signal will only result in running out of gas, and you’ll be unable to make it to your destination. Following that same logic, you deserve to take care of yourself by recharging when you need it so you are able to be productive. Think of the phrase, "you can't pour from an empty cup" when you are tired but feel like you need to keep going. You truly cannot fulfill all of your obligations if you don't take care of yourself. Overworking is not sustainable, and you deserve to rest when you need it.
Rest is a wise choice, not a lazy one.
Thanks for reading,