These days, time is rarer than a red diamond. I start many texts with, “I know you’re busy, but…” Acknowledging that everyone is busy feels like a common courtesy. We invented constant busyness and the scarcity of time, so we need to rethink the way we view time and rest.
When we have an unhealthy idea of what we can realistically accomplish, our mental health suffers. “I’ve found that busyness distracts people from living in the present moment,” family psychotherapist Julia Fazio said.“Many women I work with are stressed, and feel continuous guilt that they never do enough, and therefore they aren’t good enough.”
She believes negative feelings about ourselves magnify when we compare our lives to others through social media. Instagram was recently rated by researchers as the worst platform of expression because it was associated with high levels of depression, anxiety, FOMO and bullying. We feel like we are failing because so-and-so seems to be succeeding at doing everything. This cultural behavior is destructive. If we choose to be more present, we will be able to respond to others more peacefully, and have better relationships.
We need to be practical about the number of things we commit to. If you’re struggling to get through a week where you have three tests, mandatory meetings for your club and work, the problem isn’t your inadequacy to do everything, it’s that you’re overscheduled.
This is not conducive to our productivity in school or our outside lives. When we’re overly busy, our brain cannot do its job. In 2009, researchers found that when you rest, your brain actively processes new information, whether it’s an equation you learned in class, or a text you’re reading. Students need to stop and rest, so the networks in our brains have time to make sense of what it has recently learned. We feel the times our brains aren’t working at full capacity, especially during midterms and finals.
“I’ve noticed when I don’t rest, I’m more easily distracted and I can’t focus. However, when I do rest, I’m more productive and I process material more quickly,” sophomore Biology major Ibanez said.
One way to combat the busyness plague is to write down how you spend your time. You may be browsing on the internet or social media too much, but you may also find that you have more free time than you think. After a year of recording how she spent her hours, New York Times author Laura Vanderkam learned that after work and sleep, she had over 78 hours left for obligations and leisure. If you have busy weeks this semester, it’s important to not get sucked into the time scarcity mentality, and believe you never have time to spend with friends, chill and reflect.
Maybe this is a crazy semester, and there’s no getting around that. I understand. However, it’s important to make sure an overly busy life has an end date, and that you make an effort to let go of what causes stress.
Americans need to practice and encourage self-care. Being present in each moment will make us happier, and healthier. Instead of succumbing to the blurry hustle and bustle of life, let’s celebrate balanced, rested, and joy-filled lives.
Alarcon is a UTeach Liberal Arts student from Austin