The Busy Trap

August 10th, 2012


The "busy" trap is admittedly not unfamiliar to me.  I understand that restless feeling, verging on anxiety that I "should" be doing something.  Growing up, seeing my mother resting on the couch was such a rare occasion I think I could count on one hand the number of times she's pretended to enjoy a movie.  Instead, she was cleaning, cooking, working in the garden, rushing to or from work.  I think that many of us have had a similar model growing up.  Perhaps you berate yourself in your down time, calling yourself lazy or inadequate.  Perhaps you compare yourself to others, how much they can accomplish, how much they have achieved (which indeed our society encourages us to do).  Perhaps you become so overwhelmed by "shoulds" that you get nothing done at all.  Perhaps you are afraid that if you let one item on your list left unchecked that you will fail in all areas of your life.  Perhaps you feel like you are doing many, many things just barely well enough. 


This article brings up a number of important points but this one is perhaps the most interesting, and potentially anxiety provoking:  "Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done."  Experiment with this.  Allow yourself even just a few moments right now, of no where to go and nothing to do.  What do you notice?  It could be a restless feeling in your belly, perhaps you are holding your breath.  Maybe you are invaded by thoughts.  Just notice.  Perhaps there is something in your life that desperately needs your attention that comes up in those few moments.  Have some compassion for yourself and how hard you are working.  Experiment with coming back to yourself, being playful, having fun.  Perhaps these new experiences will give you a view from outside the trap.  Enjoy!


The busy trap article


Have a great weekend, 

Helen Dunn, 

Registered Clinical Counsellor