Bill Leaver is president and CEO of UnityPoint Health
In today’s day and age, it seems like we’re all busy – so busy, crazy busy – with packed calendars and long to-do lists. Even our kids can get easily overscheduled. Almost everyone I know is busy, including myself, and life only seems to get more frantic at the beginning of a new year, as we rush to create and achieve our resolutions.
Everyone has a different definition of “busy." Sometimes being busy is a good thing; it’s part of a larger effort and can have positive consequences: such as when we work overtime to hit a target business goal, when we help out a friend in need, when we travel to see family, when we explore something new in our community.
But our busy lifestyles can just as easily result in negative consequences, both personally and professionally. We feel stressed and anxious. We make less time for exercise, sitting all day at our desks to get “just one more thing” done and then coming home to plop on the couch, because we’re so tired. We eat less healthfully, either in front of a screen as we multitask or in our cars at a fast-food drive-in.
Stress can have all kinds of massive effects on our bodies, moods and behaviors – headaches, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, depression, lack of motivation, substance abuse, withdrawal – and stress left unchecked can result in health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
To escape the “busy” trap, consider these practical tips:
- Make time for physical activity
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat a balanced diet
- Avoid tobacco use and excessive caffeine and alcohol intake
You can also take a look at your calendar, both at the office and at home, and ask yourself what needs to stay and what needs to go. Encourage your employees to cancel meetings that aren’t necessary and actually take their lunch breaks. Spend time with your friends and family without a set agenda. Say no to opportunities that result in a feeling of being “crazy busy.”
Being busy feels important in the short term, but doesn’t benefit us in the long run. I know that this year, I will try to avoid the “busy trap” for my own health and help my teams to do the same.