Lee A Edwards, PhD

Psychologist, Austin Texas

Staying Busy, Staying Stressed

It's "Normal"

Seems like being busy and being stressed are now viewed as "normal" in mainstream American society. I'd like to suggest that this is crazy!

Why is it seen as normal? Maybe because it's common. Maybe because it suggests that your life is very important and you're handling huge challenges (you're impressive!).

So?

What's the problem? It's a lousy way to live. Folks from some other cultures think we are, in fact, nuts. Compared to most people in the world, we have prosperity, safety and leisure time. So how do we manage to be busy and stressed so often? And how can we change it?

Fixing It

Don't Conform

Step out of the line of lemmings headed toward the cliff. Decide that being busy and stressed is usually optional and not your choice of lifestyle.

De-Clutter, De-Busy

If your life is too cluttered, cut some things out. Even if everyone around you is shuttling kids to 3,852 events a week, you don't have to conform; you can reach a compromise. Even if your friends spend 10 hours a week manicuring the lawn / 70 hours a week working / whatever example, it doesn't mean you have to do the same. Ask yourself: is this activity more important than my happiness? Than my sanity? If you're a parent, ask yourself whether shuttling your kid to this activity is more helpful than your kids' having a sane, relaxed parent. Probably not.

De-Stress; Take The Romance Out Of Stress

As I said before, we've taken on busy-and-stressed like a badge of honor, which is just crazy. I think it's more realistic to look at stress as a form of anxiety...which is a form of fear. Look at it that way, and you'll strip away this bizarre romanticization of stress: "I'm afraid" is less sexy than "I'm so busy and stressed!" Afraid of what? Not being enough, probably. Not being impressive enough to other folks and to yourself. Check out the article on self-acceptance. Make your happiness more important than your impressiveness, and you'll be on a great path.

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Licensed psychologist, Austin

(512) 694-1322

4403 Manchaca Rd, Suite A, South Austin, TX 78745