Are you addicted to being busy? Do you use busyness as a coping mechanism? Busyness addiction can seriously affect your life unless you learn how to slow down.
What is busyness addiction?
Our culture celebrates the art of being busy. The busier you are, the more successful and valuable you are. As we normalize being busy, we become obsessed with it. We try to get more things done in a shorter span of time and then jump onto other things that we can complete.
Being busy makes us feel better. It feeds our self esteem and ego. And this is when we get addicted to it. However, busyness can actually be a sign of low self esteem as we desperately try to validate ourselves and our worth through the act of being busy.
Busyness addiction is like any other addiction. We become physiologically and compulsively dependent on it. Michelle Braden, MSBCoach CEO and author, explains “Busy is habit-forming. People pride themselves on being busy, but busyness is an addiction that needs to be cured.”
In a 2015 study titled The Disease of ‘Busyness’ lead researcher Kim Richards states that “Busyness is anything but impressive.” Richards found that “Our collective busyness has become an offensive disease.” However, when we learn to step back from the habit of being busy, we will be able to experience a “sense of peace, purpose, health, mindful leadership, and a good dose of meaning and self-respect.”
Read also: 5 TIPS FOR BUSY PEOPLE
The busyness problem
Being busy all the time may not appear that much harmful. You are just getting your work done, accomplishing your tasks and following your schedule. It’s true there is nothing wrong with that. But when you use busyness to run away from something, especially yourself and your emotions, then it can be a huge problem.
“Research on workaholism and adrenaline addiction suggest that, much like an addictive drug, adrenaline can produce pleasurable somatic sensations and create a dependency in some overworked persons,” explains yoga and mindfulness educator Crystal McCreary. Busyness addiction tends to creep in slowly and sneakily. At first, it mesmerises us with the thrill of accomplishments, being valued and joy. You feel as if you are finally being rewarded for all the hard work you’ve put in through the years. However, the thrill of accomplishment is soon replaced with stress, anxiety and burn out.
“When you are not aware of it, busyness can take over in ways that may be similar to how an addiction can and prevent you from being present in your own life with those around you,” writes mental health counselor Kristen Gardenhire, LCSW.
Busyness is a coping mechanism
The more you try to keep yourself busy, the harder you are trying to avoid the present. When we are not happy with our reality or not satisfied internally, we tend to stay busy. This helps us to keep our mind off from the things that bother us. Things that cause us stress, anxiety and emotional pain. “We use busyness as a distraction from painful feelings,” writes psychologist Nick Wignall. He adds “When your to-do list is constantly throwing appointment after appointment at you, task after task, meeting after meeting, you don’t have the space to catch your breath much less reflect on seriously painful lingering emotions.”
Hence, it is nothing but a coping mechanism that we use to avoid our innermost emotions. Although it may seem to be an effective strategy in the short run, this can be seriously mentally and emotionally damaging in the long term. Brené Brown PhD, LMSW, research professor and author, explains “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call ‘crazy busy;’ We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”