Do you feel lost if you don’t have a to-do list as long as your arm? Always moaning that you’re too busy with your time split left, right and centre?
According to a study in the Journal of Psychological Science, we’re all actually much happier when we’re busy – the research suggests that people generally like being busy, and that being idle can even cause unhappiness.
Plus, a University of Texas study reveals that it’s not how busy we are that causes stress, but the language that we use to describe our hectic lives. The study looked at the psychological aspects of language and showed that vocabulary can dramatically affect our state of mind. By taking just 5 minutes to think about the words you’re using — and how they make you, and those around you, feel — you’ll be halfway towards feeling calmer and more in control.
Here are 5 ways to feel less frantic
1. Avoid negativity
Using words like ‘busy’, ‘hectic’ and ‘crazy’ will only make you feel more overwhelmed. Whenever you hear yourself saying a word with negative connotations about your time, think of a replacement and use it next time. ‘Notice how you feel as you experiment with different language,’ suggests counsellor Eve Menezes Cunningham. ‘When you call your day ‘hectic’, ‘manic’ or ‘crazy’, does it make you feel energised or drained?
Reminding ourselves that we have choices is instantly empowering.’ Opt for words that uplift you — try using ‘active’, ‘eventful’ or ‘lively’. An ‘eventful’ life sounds like much more fun than a ‘busy’ one, doesn’t it?
2. Talk feelings
‘Answering with the word ‘busy’ when asked by others how you are can be quite dismissive,’ says Eve. ‘Almost everyone is busy. Challenge yourself to notice what’s below your busyness. If you feel overwhelmed, recognising this can help you think of ways to best support yourself right then and there.
Maybe you feel like you’re excited? Realising this can help you enjoy your busyness more.’ In the end, answering honestly may help you ask for the support that you need.
3. Swap the word ‘busy’ for ‘breathe’
Every time you think ‘busy’, swap that word for ‘breathe’ — then take a deep breath in and out. However busy you may feel, try to enjoy the moment that you’re in. This is a more mindful way of living, which has been shown to increase your overall sense of well-being.
Read more: How to breathe PROPERLY (and why you should)
4. Choose to be less busy
But if your hectic life still isn’t making you feel good, change something. Drop one event per week, for example – but don’t cancel plans by saying you’re too busy. ‘We’re not machines,’ says Eve. ‘Build in rewards – a lie-in, for example, isn’t a waste of time. It can boost dopamine production, which will make you feel good and it will help you to stay motivated.’
5. There’s an app for that
Try an app to combat being busy all the time:
- Keep track of everything you need to do using the Wunderlist app (free for iOS/Apple; Android).
- In just 10 minutes a day, you can learn how to meditate using the Headspace app (free for iOS/Apple; Android).