By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H Hopson, and Ted Hagen/Tribune News Service
Are you one of those people who keeps a killer to-do list? Maybe you have 100 items you need to accomplish over the next three weeks. Just reading it makes you tired.
You’re speeding around, trying to keep up, but you feel lost, lonely, and neglected.
You try hard to perform your tasks in a timely manner. But somehow, you’re personally getting shortchanged.
Maybe nothing is radically wrong. For instance, no one at your house is sick or going hungry. And, your job is going fine. However, you feel empty, drained, and anxious.
“Busyness was forcing me to neglect myself emotionally,” says a friend of ours who recently had a heart attack. “When you overdo for others, you push your own needs to the bottom. This slowly destroys something deep inside yourself.”
Staying super-busy can cost any of us the following:
l A true connection with ourselves. Having no time to relax will make you feel neglected. Doing nothing for an hour or so every day gives your brain time to recharge.
l A lost connection with our larger goals. We can spend so much time maintaining our lives, we never have time to do what’s important for the future.
l Time with friends and family. Long workdays are absolutely necessary at times. But, when we skip time with people we care about, we will feel lonely and isolated. We need meaningful conversations and validation from others.
“What’s interesting is that lonely people sometimes try to fill more time gaps,” says a psychologist friend of ours we’ll call Travis. “I’ve seen hurting people try to do more volunteer work or exercise. But what they likely need is: time to listen to music, time to read, time to think, and time to soak in the tub. Busyness is not always the answer.”
Travis goes on to say that we all need to carve out personal time for ourselves. “Don’t wait until Sunday night to realise you haven’t spent any time with a friend,” he warns. “Plan a Friday night movie date or Sunday morning breakfast with a friend several days in advance. People can’t show up at the last minute.”
These tips to fight loneliness can help:
l Keep a running list of activities that you enjoy. Write down restaurants you want to visit. If possible, start a tradition.
l Join a fitness centre. Even joining a local gym means you’ll be visiting a familiar place with energy coming from other people. It’s better to sometimes exercise with people, even strangers, than to ride your exercise bike alone in front of the TV every night.
l Plan a short trip often. Just plan a day to relax and see a different place within an hour’s drive of your home. Nice experiences make you feel nurtured and cared for.
Nurturing your inner spirit is key to feeling happy and whole. Keep in mind that individuals who are depressed didn’t get there in one step. Their depression came on over time.
If you’re taking good care of yourself, you won’t feel too much emotional emptiness. If you keep dipping into your emotional reserves to please everyone else, your inner spirit will suffer.
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