A female office staff in front of a copying machine while on the phone

How many times have you asked someone how they’re doing and received the response: “I’m busy!” While we may be hearing this less often lately due to pandemic-related restrictions, many people report feelings of anxiety, stress, and even a latent fear of returning to their “overly busy” lives post-pandemic. The sentiment, in other words, is essentially the same – busyness or even the idea of being “too busy” is a significant source of stress for most of us.

Life often moves fast and we are challenged almost daily to keep pace. Whether we are a work-all-night CEO or a stay-at-home parent, our days can become filled with the nonstop challenges of work, home, parenting, and relationships: we deal with deadlines, maintaining healthy communication in our important relationships, coordinating childcare and pick ups, preparing meals, grocery shopping, doing laundry, paying bills, and so on. When problems arise, we sometimes must make split-second decisions and adjustments.

Though we usually associate busyness with activity and speed, and lack of busyness with stopping or slowing down, this is not always the case. It is quite possible to be actively engaged and not be busy; this does not require that you stop, slow down, or step out of the activity of your life – in many instances, we can learn, adjust, and find our composure right in the midst of the activity and intensity of our lives. It takes practice and skill, but it’s something that anyone can learn to do with mindful attention.

One way to shed unnecessary busyness from your life is to ask yourself: What am I doing that is extra?

Then, for a few hours during the day, pay attention to everyday physical activities like walking or sitting.

Do you hold your shoulders tightly or are they relaxed and comfortable?

When you walk, is your gait fluid or strained?

Notice where you carry tension in your muscles, and when you find tension, relax.

Take a deep breath and let it go.

Continue to do this throughout the day, paying attention to your body and your posture. By the end of the day, do you notice any change? Do you have less tension, and when you feel it, is it easier to let it go?

It can take a lot of practice and attention to relearn ingrained physical habits, but doing so has enormous benefits. Try to explore whether expending less unnecessary energy makes for more productivity and satisfaction throughout your day.

We are born with all the wisdom, playfulness, and imagination we need; we just sometimes need a reminder to return to our senses and get out of our own way. Let go of whatever fears, assumptions, distractions, resistance, and busyness might be hampering you. Allow yourself to think and feel and live that way. Embodying and acting from this place results in greater composure, and when we act with composure, we are more effective in every aspect of our lives.