When did misery and poor planning become the makings for bragging rights? You know it’s happened to you before. You’ve casually asked someone how they are doing and instead of a smiling “Great!” or an adequate “Fine” they say “BUSY!!!!” It’s as if the expectation is that being overloaded and stressed-out is somehow supposed to morph into health and happiness. It doesn’t.

It does turn into increased levels of stress hormones coursing through your system, sleep disruptions, decreased productivity, a hampered immune system and in many cases joylessness. Here’s what to do…

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4 Tips to Slow Down Your Overloaded Schedule

1) Yeah…It’s a No.

While you might be tempted to join the cool kids in their quest to overschedule, just say “NO.” There are ways to avoid letting “busy” take over your life. The simplest way is to say “YESSSSS!” passionately to the things that excite you and “no” to much of the rest – so that you can get some rest.

2) Find Your Fun.

Overscheduled people will try to convince you that they get a rush from rushing around to various activities to get it all in. What they’re really saying is that they hope you believe them and join their efforts so that 1) they can take a break and shove the work they don’t want onto someone else (you?) and 2) have the illusion of a social life when the whole gang shows up to be busy with them. While it’s great to give, give and maybe give some more, at some point, you have to figure out who you are and what you like to do. To figure that out, you must retain proprietary ownership of your free time. You’re the boss of your “busy”-ness.

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3) Disconnect to Connect.

More and more studies show that looking only to social media for social time does not satisfy most individuals’ emotional needs. While it may feel unsettling at first, try disconnecting from devices once in a while. Can you make it through dinner with friends without your phone? Can you wait a few hours between e-mail check-ins? Minimizing mindless media meandering can free up time and allow you to better connect with those around you.

busy schedule

4) Take a deep breath.

Let the sigh you that involuntarily emerges when your buddy says “BUSY!!!!!!!!!!” morph into deep breathing. Make it a practice to take just a few moments throughout the day to focus on breath and recentering. A habit of deep breathing can promote better cardiovascular health and more. A few deep breaths can deliver increased amounts of oxygen to your brain and other body parts, and that can boost your mood, clarify thoughts and increase feelings of well-being so that you can honestly answer “I feel GREAT!” if some BUSY bee takes the time to ask about your day.

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