How many times do we all hear the phrase 'I'm so busy?' It seems to be the stock answer that we all use to describe ourselves. But are we all really so busy or is it just a societal norm that's crept up on us?
When did this all start?
If we cast our minds back hundreds of years, people were no less busy than we are now, but they seemed to know how to relax. It wasn't uncommon for the landed gentry to take flight to the countryside and spend time relaxing and not working. However with the advancement of technology it's now possible to check work emails wherever we are in the world, literally at any time of the day. So what are the social costs of all of this busyness?
Why do we find it so hard to relax and rest up?
Behavioural scientists carried out research into what being busy means for all of us. As part of the research, they set up two Facebook profiles. One profile showed a person who rested and relaxed, finished work at 5pm, took a lunch break and generally wasn't busy. The other profile showed a constantly busy person, working late, skipping lunch and super busy, constantly. The researchers asked people what their thoughts on the profiles were and overwhelmingly the busy person scored highest on the success chart. Just by being busy people automatically assumed that person was the most successful , without any other information, just because they were busy.
Busy, busy, busy
So how did we get here? Why does society dictate that busyness is equal to success? It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, but the acceleration of technology has no doubt contributed to this culture of busyness. It has become a race to see who can be the busiest, who can check the most work emails on the weekend and who can work the latest. No one wants to be the first to log off from work, it's somehow seen as a sign of weakness. Whilst this is great for the Corporate bottom line and big companies are benefitting no doubt from the extra hours we all work, what is the cost to our personal lives?
Let's all try and be a bit less busy
Each time we check a work email at the weekend, or in our free time, or skip lunch for work, we are giving up a bit of ourselves, slowly but surely work is encroaching into our personal lives and the lines between work and our personal lives become more and more blurred. This has been accelerated by the huge numbers of us working from home and our work places and homes being merged. It would be great if society can start to view busyness in a different way. Not a badge of honour but an indicator that our work life balance is out of sync and that we need to put some checks and balances in place, to bring some balance back into our lives. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that a slower pace of life can be good for some of us. Spending time at home just being, can be beneficial for some of us and what's wrong with just relaxing and resting? If we all tried to relax a bit more and bring some balance back into our lives, our mental health will thank us and hopefully our brains will be a bit less busy. Take care and remember to relax x