All too often, tips and tricks for fighting ‘overwhelm’ seem to hinder, not help. Even worse, time-use research indicates that we’re not busier than we used to be, on average. We have plenty of spare time, researchers say – so why doesn’t it feel that way? All this suggests that feeling overwhelmed is not a simple question of having too much to do, but a tricky psychological trap.
So, here is the best current thinking on finding your way out – and reclaiming some breathing - space to enjoy life again.
Declare war on ‘busy pride’
If you’re completely honest, do you feel a minor thrill when you’re asked ‘how are you?’ and you can reply, ‘I’m so busy’?
Most of us get an ego-boost from busyness: it alleviates insecurity, making us feel important. But that short-term boost is a long-term recipe for misery.
A few years ago, New Yorker Catherine Crawford set out to borrow parenting techniques from France, recording the experience in her book Why French Children Don’t Talk Back (John Murray, £9.99).
‘One of the best and most lasting changes was to cut my two young daughters’ extra-curricular activities from five to one,’ Crawford recalls. ‘Instead of agonising over schedules and rushing from one kid’s karate to the other’s cooking class, we went home. After adjusting to a life without constant stimulation, my kids grew much happier. We all did.’
Read It's time to stop the glorification of busy by Jules Mitchell on LifeLabs