Banish Busy-ness!

KIM FORRESTER learns the benefits of slowing down and saying no.

Time to slow down?

It was during our years living in Sydney that I learned how to banish busy-ness. During that time, I had two children in school and I was working nearly full-time. Between my husband’s travel, kids’ after school activities, and household chores, life was constantly demanding. To top it off, I had decided that there had to be something in life for me. So I played netball, sang in a choir and attended musical theatre classes. I was also producing a pilot for a spiritual television show, and hosting occasional speaking gigs.

Life was full. Life was fast.
It was a week-long holiday on quiet and secluded Green Island that changed all that. On that break, I knew I was slower; I was enjoying having nowhere to be. I was surprised at how little I yearned for my phone and the internet. But it was as we left the island that I truly realised all of the things I wasn’t:
– I wasn’t running logistical algorithms though my mind, mentally juggling people, locations and activities at warp speed
– I wasn’t stiff in my shoulders or feeling vice-like tension across the top of my spine
– I wasn’t desperate to get online and check the news, flick through Facebook, check the latest listings … anything to feed the frantic pace of my mind
– I wasn’t snappy or impatient, snarling at others (internally or verbally) to hurry up, get out of my way and, for God’s sake, DO. NOT. SLOW. ME. DOWN!

However, as we flew back to Sydney, I noticed all of these symptoms returning. Steadily. Insidiously. Emphatically. As my mind flew into its familiar frenzy, the tension began to return and I felt the grip of stress wind its way around my heart. It was then that a powerful intention rushed through my body: STOP! NO! I WILL NOT DO THIS TO MYSELF!
I didn’t want to live in this horrible, overwhelming, exhausting, adrenaline-fueled state of mania anymore.
The changes started as soon as we got home. I cancelled a speaking gig. “This week is not the best timing for me.” I gave my children the chance to choose one activity they loved the most, and removed all others. Then I did the same for me. On my first day of work, I approached my boss to discuss working friendlier hours to free some time and miss rush hour traffic.
I also began to: say “no” (a lot); notice the state of my body and pay attention to tension and unease; prioritise what was most vital to the well-being of myself and my family; let go of any concerns about ‘missing out’ if we didn’t follow through on an activity or opportunity; and learn how to lovingly offend people if a scheduled event was causing stress. I banished the busy-ness. And, in doing so, I reclaimed my wellbeing.

Kim Forrester is a holistic wellbeing author, consultant and educator. kimforrester.net