Why Being Constantly Too Busy Affects Your Well-Being

In 30 seconds…

Our modern, constantly connected work lives can leave us feeling drained, frantic, and always playing catch-up.

Being busy is often seen as a badge of honor and a marker of self-worth, with a lack of leisure time viewed as a direct indication of status. However, over-scheduling yourself can negatively affect your emotional and physical health, as well as your ability to maintain healthy relationships.

This go-go-go mentality is what Johns Hopkins researchers call “the cult of busy”. It’s pervasive, it’s unavoidable, and it’s damaging our lives.

You have no time to think

When we do so many things we don’t give ourselves time to think strategically. We may be working hard, but we are not working smarter. Being busy and being productive can often be confused with one another. If you are busy, you may have a lot on your plate, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you are productive, or using your time efficiently. Being productive means being able to complete a task or get something done. You do not need to be busy in order to be productive.

Being busy has to do with how you spend your time, where productivity has more to do with what you accomplish.

You have no time to recharge

Being busy takes up physical or emotional energy, or both. And when you are always busy, it’s easy to lose your spark and enthusiasm at work and at home.

  • Impact on Emotional Health

When busyness is glorified and encouraged, you may end up overextending yourself with varied obligations, appointments, commitments, and responsibilities. Busyness may lead to feeling: Anxious, Stressed, Overwhelmed, Inadequate, Sad, Frustrated, Angry, Hopeless, Incompetent and Guilty. 

If you are unable to complete tasks or uphold the many obligations you have dedicated yourself to, you may end up feeling guilty, or as if you’ve let yourself or others down.  

Being overly busy and exhausted may lead to an increase in stress and/or decreased self-esteem. This may trigger more serious mental health disorders including anxiety disorders, depression, and substance use disorders.

  • Impact on Physical Health

Busyness may lead to sacrificing your physical well-being for the sake of getting tasks done. You may end up making quick decisions that have to do with your day-to-day physical health, instead of making more thoughtful choices. This may include not prioritizing exercise as much as you’d like or not getting as much sleep as your body needs. You may also find yourself ignoring or pushing aside any physical health concerns instead of seeing a doctor right away.

Excessive busyness may impact your physical health by triggering or exacerbating: Muscle tension/pain, Restlessness, Insomnia, Headaches, Inflammation, Compromised immune function, Fatigue, Change in sex drive, Digestion issues, Cardiovascular disease.

You have no time to connect

Demanding schedules may leave no or very little time for meaningful connections with others. You may feel isolated and lonely, and those around you may feel rejected or angry with your lack of availability. Relationships with friends, family, and spouses may suffer because of your overextended schedule.

You might think you’re listening, but you aren’t. Because while you look like you are listening to your colleague, partner or kids, your mind is busy thinking about what you have to do next or what you should have done and haven’t. Relationships require time and effort from all participating parties. They want a connection, but you are skimming the surface. 

While being busy may positively impact your self-esteem, if you are so busy that you are unable to practice self-care, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy your free time, being overbooked can actually have a harmful effect on your overall well-being. Even though it may feel challenging to shift your priorities, disconnecting from work or unnecessary obligations and deliberately resting and taking time for yourself can significantly boost your quality of life.

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