If you’re like many women, you cram more than your share of projects and deadlines into every day. With a to-do list a mile long, you move through life focusing on completion, meeting (often ridiculously high) standards, covering all the bases, making sure you never neglect anyone or anything along the way.
You’re focused, hard-working, and forever the person in charge. You have to be, right? There’s a lot to do in your world — things that aren’t going to get done by themselves. That’s why you’ve programmed yourself to step up to the plate. Every time. It’s how you operate, and you’ve been at it for a really long time.
I was that woman once. A list-maker, an achiever, and a chronic over-doer, I was forever the volunteer and the person in charge. My pattern of over-achievement and accomplishment validated my thoughts, my abilities and my goals for myself. On the surface, it felt really good. Others noticed, too. In fact, it was that early programming that helped me achieve much of my early success (read my story to hear how achievement patterns can play a part in early success).
Your focus on production and over-achievement serves you, too. Whether consciously or subconsciously, you’re deriving benefits from your actions and behaviors on some level, too. You see, every pattern you exhibit in life either fulfills a need or validates a belief about yourself. If that weren’t true, you wouldn’t be doing any of it.
The Problem With Doing Too Much
But, there’s a problem with all that. Because, no matter how strangely satisfying certain behaviors can be, over time, those same behaviors can become destructive, too. Chronic over-doing and continual busy-ness are perfect examples of behaviors that serve a purpose now, but have a negative impact later. It doesn’t seem fair, to be honest. Because patterns like that are always useful…that is, until they blind-side us years later, and the damage is already done.
I meet women every day who suffer from doing too much.
Do you know someone like that?
Is it you?
Some women know they’re too busy, and admit their suffering out loud. But, even if they don’t admit it, it’s easy to tell when women are doing too much, because the suffering shows up in their bodies, their voices, or in other areas of their lives.
With me, my early programming ended up affecting my health later on — in a really big way. My eternal busy-ness and focus on completion ended in a musculoskeletal problem and tremendous physical pain. But, chronic over-achievers suffer in lots of other areas, too. Effects show up in finances, emotions, personal and work relationships, and many other areas of the body, and of life. Most of us have met women suffering the effects of doing too much. I meet women like these in my my practice every week.
A Simple Solution
Thankfully, the solution is really, really simple. The answer is down time — however you define that for yourself. I’m talking about doing things that bring pleasure, fun, relaxation or plain old joy. Basically anything besides what you normally do, think about, schedule on a calendar or fret over throughout the day.
Regular time off (“down time”) isn’t a luxury. It’s actually necessary for a healthy, stress-free life. Riding a bike, listening to birds, reading a book, spending time with a pet, coloring, star gazing, enjoying a night out — these are all ways to prevent illness and injury later in life. They’re crucial to maintaining quality of life. As long as the activity brings pleasure or rest, it’s good. Do it! You need it. Not just once in a while. But, often.
If you were to ask me 10 or 20 years ago when was the last time I just sat around doing nothing, I’d have laughed out loud. You see, I couldn’t recall a time in the last 24 hours (or the last week, or the last month) where I allowed myself time to just sit and be. I remember rolling my eyes when a doctor once asked if I’d ever had time to sit under a tree and read a book. I remember my arrogance after another doctor implied I needed more time to myself. You see, I never used to allow myself the indulgence of time off, for it would destroy my personal production schedule for the day. I laughed at the absurdity of those thoughts, thinking, “Didn’t they realize I had a lot to do?”
I was so wrong.
Looking back at the wisdom of people who counseled, “Go for a walk, watch TV, or take a nap”, I realize I had a lot to learn back then about true success and happiness. I think back to my dear mother’s favorite saying (“Take time out!”) and how my stubbornness didn’t allow me to see past the flurry of activity and endless stream of things on my schedule. If I’d just allowed myself regular time off, there is no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t have developed my illness, nor all the painful symptoms that plagued me for many years.
Say YES to rest and play
Fast forward many years, much research and many experiences and I recognize the tremendous value of down time. Though constant production had its place when I was younger, it also stole parts of my life away. Armed with this information, now I am called to counsel women, spreading this important message. I explain the need for rest and play, the value of self-care, and how omitting this crucial part of life can damage emotions, physical health, relationships and more.
Sometimes, I’m met with resistance. “How can I take time off when I have got so much to do?”, clients will ask. I’m familiar with these excuses, since I used them all myself! Nevertheless, we work to prioritize their lives, eliminate distractions and time-sucking activities, rework their schedules, and find the time they need for the rest or play they so deserve.
The 7-Day Challenge
I haven’t convinced you yet? Again, I understand. But, let me ask you this: Would you be willing to try to rest or play for a week? Just a little? Just for a week?
I’m challenging you to take back your life. I’m challenging you to take a little time for yourself — each day, for a mere 7 days. Because, after a week, I think you’ll begin to understand what I’ve been talking about. After a week, I think you’ll see that a little down time is well worth the investment in your future.
Leave a COMMENT and let me know if you’ll accept this challenge. You can also let my readers know how you’re planning to work some time off into your busy day. If you need help, post that, too! I’d love to be able to help you find the time off you need for a healthy life!
Don’t forget to come back and POST YOUR RESULTS, either — we can all cheer together!
As a coach, writer, recovered over-doer and busyness addict, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle while the mind tries to sabotage your success. In my journey to vibrant health, I created a personalized health system of nutrition and supplementation, lifestyle changes, and I retrained my mind and the energy of my body. I view my success as the formula to my happy, healthy life. I now empower other women to create their own personalized formulas, including the tools and strategies just right for them! Amazing life shifts come from our relationships. I look forward to helping you, too!.