Symptoms of Busyness Syndrome

I recently dated a guy; let’s call him Guy*,  who reacted with a certain level of alarm when I described a book I was currently reading.

He exclaimed, “You read?!”

I laughed, thinking he was joking.  He was not.  “What?  READ?  Who has TIME?”

It was that disappointing moment on a date where, in an instant, you go from excited to “meh”.   As an avid reader, I enjoyed that banter that exists in the company of another bibliophile.  It was if he announced, between bites of his prime rib, that both of “The Bush Boys” were fantastic presidents.  (True story.  Different guy.)

Despite the knowledge that Guy* wasn’t for me (there were other clues – it wasn’t just about the books), our relationship limped along for several more months.  During that time, every time I suggested a “do nothing” activity like a day at the beach or restorative yoga, I might as well have handed him a crack pipe.

Like so many of us (myself included), I suspect Guy* suffers from Busyness Syndrome. (Albeit with a touch of ADD – once I caught him playing on the escalator at the Seattle Art Museum; 20 minutes after he excused himself to the men’s room.)

Busyness Syndrome Self Quiz.

Carefully read each statement and answer yes/no to each. Yes to 3 or more answers indicates chronic busyness syndrome.  Seek help from your yoga instructor immediately.

  1. Your days are packed: from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep
  2. You have a constant breathless, stress-addicted feeling of having way too much to do and way too little time to do it
  3. Zero ability to sit still and relax
  4. Agitation at the least little thing
  5. You have difficulty focu—OOH SQUIRREL!!!

Where was I? ….Let’s start over.

  1. You have an overwhelming sense that something is wrong or missing but everything appears to be in order
  2. You NEVER enough time
  3. Your feelings of inadequacy increase as your laundry list of things to do grows longer by the second
  4. You realize you’re muttering to yourself only when your children ask you what you’re saying.

About two years ago I begun to sense the toll busyness was taking on my own life.  Back then I shared my stress concerns with my internist and she suggested a Xanax prescription and a nightly glass of red wine.  Nice.

As I said to my doctor, I have two speeds:  On and Off.  When I’m “on”,  I’m VERY productive:  I work and work until I am ready to drop.  And then I do.  Drop. By crashing into bed, or getting sick, or pushing myself to the brink of a nervous breakdown.

See:  On.  Or Off.   Where is the balance there?

My busyness symptoms started early in life: I recall, with a certain amount of pride, that my elementary school teachers noted “JENNY USES TIME WISELY” on my report card.

Proud little multi-tasker I was.  Yessiree.

Even at that time, I was confusing (as so many do) busyness with meaning.  Constant busyness was my attempt at approval; it meant I was successful and good.

The current level of stress in our culture is unrelenting – and causes a host of physical and emotional illnesses.  To balance that level of stress, we need space to feel; we need to rest.  And by rest, I don’t mean sleep.  Rest & sleep are two distinct psychological states and we need both of them.  And we’re not getting enough of either.

Restorative Yoga is a great place to begin slowing down.  During the supported postures of restorative yoga, your nervous system says, “you’re safe.” When you’re safe, your body and brain relax.

And in those moments of relaxation, our thoughts no longer take over our bodies and minds – then comes the release of tension, anxiety and stress.

It can be a slow, difficult process to let go of our attachment to be busyness.  But I invite you to take the first step:  Drop in to a Restorative Class on Friday evenings at Twist.

Or better yet, join us for our Restorative Immersion Training at Twist Yoga from Nov 9-11.  This 20 hour intensive study of restorative, yin yoga and yoga nidra will give you the tools and information to cultivate your own set of rest and renew yoga practices. Then, you can share the practice with your family and loved ones.

See our website for additional information on our immersion: