Addicted to busy
As the title suggests, this post is about the potential repercussions of living a busy lifestyle. I mentioned in my previous post, that this time the depression was very physical rather than mental – something I couldn’t quite wrap my head around in the beginning. In 2017, I was a slave to my own mind and there was a period of months in which I was rarely in a good mood. This time around, I was still somewhat myself. I was still able to wake up in a good mood some mornings or crack a smile, but my energy, drive, interest and concentration, were at rock bottom. I found it difficult to get out of bed (yes, I’m usually that weirdo that likes to get up bright and early), difficult to find the strength to train in the gym and would regularly experience energy crashes, struggling to form a sentence. I re-assured myself that I was ‘just tired’, and naively thought that it would pass. I think that ensuring I maintained a positive mindset, practiced Mindfulness meditation daily and supported my body with adequate rest and nutrients, helped me to stay above water. I also think these actions delayed the crash for the amount of time that it did. When I went on my holiday, the alcohol was flowing, meditation ceased, my sleep was seriously lacking and the food, well, it was holiday food. By not supporting my already vulnerable and run down body, a crash was inevitable.
So how could I possibly experience depression when I’m practicing healthy habits and operating on a positive mindset? Let me introduce you to the S word. I could write a book about the negative effects of chronic stress and I think one day I probably will. The effects chronic stress can have on the body and mind are highly underestimated, time and time again. Stress is inevitable, and in small doses is good for us. It keeps us on our toes and motivates us to achieve. The problem is when an individual is subject to persistent stress – physically and/or emotionally – over a long period of time, the body will begin to feel the effects. It wouldn’t be a blog post from the health hun without a scientific lesson, but I have previously discussed the effects of chronic stimulation of cortisol and the fight or flight response here (10/10, would recommend reading to a friend).
With stress, a lot of it boils down to how you perceive it and how you deal with it – emotional intelligence playing a pivotal role. Emotional intelligence is a skill worth practicing for both your personal and professional life. It helps you to handle a situation objectively, without attaching emotions to it. It also enhances self-awareness in recognising the impact your emotions can have on a situation. An example of this could be two co-workers going through a very busy period, where nothing seems to be going to plan. Person X may start panicking and feeling overwhelmed, whereas Person Y may seem cool, calm and collected. They perform to the best of their ability, without thinking about the repercussions of not adhering to deadlines. Now, this doesn’t mean that Person Y isn’t phased, they just have a different perspective. They know that attaching emotions to the situation will not benefit themselves or anyone else.
Person Y’s positive outlook will work in their favour by helping them to remain mentally strong. However, as I have previously mentioned, if you are exposed to a stressful stimulus time and time again, your body will not function optimally. The body will down-regulate hormones and shut down certain systems to compensate. Person B is not immune to this. They may keep it together mentally, but it is inevitable that the stress will take it’s toll physically. The problem is, Person Y may not notice this. They may not be tuned in to their body, or they simply may not care. They may have what’s known as a Type A personality (bear with me here), meaning they continue to take on too much in their life, as they believe it’s a necessity to succeed. The Type A and Type B personality theory describes two contrasting personality types (see image below). The personality types are not fixed, rather to be viewed on a continuum, similar to the mental health continuum. Naturally, I’m more of a Type A, but I’m trying to incorporate some of the Type B attributes. I do enjoy being a Type A, as I have that drive and ambition to succeed within me. My problem is, I too tend to take on more than I can handle, and my health suffers as a result.
Being addicted to busy can be a big problem, using phrases such as ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘I have no time’. Individuals may know that this is detrimental to their health, but they feel it’s justified as they’re achieving their goals. A justification may look like ‘oh I’ll just get X done, then I’ll have more free time’, but the list continues to add up. This type of mentality is toxic, but it is all too prevalent these days as it’s so easy to go online and compare yourself to your peers. I allowed myself to slip into old habits, so naturally, my body reacted to make it stop. Despite my best efforts to remain mentally strong, I was reminded of the hard fact that mental health and physical health are not separate. However, this doesn’t mean I’m defeated by any means. Life goes on. I have gone back to basics, re-evaluated my days and made any necessary changes. I am factoring in more down time and prioritising getting back to myself. I am slowing down when I find myself rushing to my next meeting. I am calming the mind when I find myself stuck in traffic. I am being kinder to myself and working on not feeling like I need to have it all figured out by the age of 24. These are such simple things to implement, but require consistency to maintain health. Fast forward by one month and I’m already feeling back to myself.