I am a busy-body. Not in the sense that I’m a meddler (although, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good bit of gossip?); I just love to be busy.
All my adult life I’ve heard that I’m going to stress myself out because I take on too much. Unnecessary or excessive cleaning at home. I don’t say no enough at work. I care too much about the comings and goings of friends and family that it weighs on me. I don’t enforce the balance of co-parenting enough.
All of the above are true.
Juggling a full time marketing career, ad hoc writing assignments, a blog, “appearances” on social media, raising three children and keeping our home in order and everyone in check is exhausting and sometimes overwhelming. But it keeps my mind off other things, like depression.
Who has time to think about being depressed when you have three loads of laundry to wash and fold, dinner to prepare, band-aids to carefully apply, a litter box of cat poop to sift, a neighbourhood Christmas party to plan, a maid-of-honour dress to find that fits and flatters, and (hopefully) a few chapters of my latest book to read?
I enjoy being busy. It keeps my mind occupied so I don’t get caught in the trap of overthinking and over-analysing. But every now and then it’s good to stop and just be.
Yesterday, on a scheduled day off from work, I got the kids together, out the door and off to school. Then, I stopped by a nearby park and sat under a tree near the water and just listened.
I heard birds chirping their good mornings, baby chicks happily clucking behind their mother, the crash of waves on the ironshore and the rustle of the leaves above me. I felt the coolness of what we call “Christmas breeze” in the Cayman Islands – a dip in the usual year-round 89-degree-Fahrenheit weather – and welcome sea breezes. I smelled the dirt under my feet. I tasted the vanilla creamer in my English breakfast tea and let the warmth fill my stomach. I felt the crisp paper of my new book as I turned the pages.
And then I thought: Why don’t I do this more often?
We live in a world where success is largely dependent on how much you can get done in a specific time frame; on being efficient. The more we can take on, the better an employee or parent we are.
Parents around the world (myself included) are killing themselves to find the balance between thriving careers and actually spending time with their children. Or, they feel professionally irresponsible and overlooked at the office because they choose to put their family or self first.
Why does it have to be a choice? We don’t rest enough in the Western world.
Thinking about this, I wonder: Is busyness causing us to become more depressed? Are we overwhelming ourselves to (situational) depression?
Being more mindful about yourself, your surroundings and your feelings is a process. It takes practice to break yourself out of the habit of doing and into the habit of being, something I have to mindfully (no pun intended) work on and, if you’re at all like me, so do you.
So I beg you, the next time you have five minutes to yourself – just five – take a moment and just listen to your thoughts. Feel the breeze or the warmth of the sun or, if you’re in a cooler country, the chill of your fingertips. Listen to the sounds around you. Take off your shoes and dig your toes in the sand or the dirt or the grass. Take five minutes amidst all of the busyness to be mindful, even if that mindfulness reminds you that you’re silently fighting depression. It’s okay … we’re all in the fight together.