If you ask a friend how they’re doing, the first thing they will say is busy. Busy busy busy. Oh-so-busy. BUSY. It’s not even cool to be busy anymore because, quite frankly, it’s slowly killing us. Not only is it making us ineffective at completing tasks, it is actually damaging us physically, mentally, emotionally and even relationally.

Even with my friends, I have increasingly noticed that busyness is ruling their lives. The biggest response I get when asking for help, organising a catch-up, inviting people to parties or just in general when communicating, is “work is really bz atm” (text speak for busy at the moment). Now, this isn’t a dig at my friends, they are dearly cherished and loved, and are only doing their best given the circumstances. This is a stance against how we have become absolutely dominated by busyness (or business for some). Is it really called ‘living’ when we are squeezing in as many tasks and commitments in a day with an overflow of stress, exhaustion and illness? Why does the pace of life dictate our lives when, as human beings, were are meant to call the shots and define how we should live?

I am especially ranty about this subject, simply because I have seen busyness shatter me into a million pieces. There was a time where I was working full time, overtime, late hours, all hours, weekends… And studying a masters degree, and travelling for work. And managing a girls soccer team. And trying to get to church just to squeeze in half a sermon to get me through the week. AND dealing with the emotional and mental fatigue of playing the corporate political games at work (the job I applied for was marketing, NOT politician!) Over four years of increasing workload and managing unrealistic ‘can you find me a unicorn’ expectations, it all ended in a triumphant circus of being managed out (I did however resign because there was NO WAY I was giving them the satisfaction!)

You know something? The human spirit may be resilient, and yes, we do bounce back (I did after six months of disciplined self-care) but physically and emotionally we can only take so much. Even Jesus proves that, as He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gesthemene. Our brains were not wired to handle continued ongoing stress. Dr Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist who has devoted her life to help people by rewiring their minds asserts that our bodies react to trauma, infection and mental alarm. By a process called inflammation, different types of white blood cells and reactive proteins produce inflammation. If this chemical reaction is prolonged, it can physically damage the brain and body.

It is no news that mental health and associated personality and mood disorders count for not just a small minority, but now a majority of us. As many as 15.2% of Australians have an identified mental health issue, up from 12.7% in 2012 and 10.7% in 2011. And that is identified – what about all the cases that go undiagnosed and hence untreated? BeyondBlue sent out a post about reducing stress at work on social media, to which there was a plethora of comments such as “Some employers have no empathy for mental health sufferers” and “I’m really struggling at the moment, about to reach breaking point.”

This may come as a shock and (forgive me) a little in your face but remember, YOU are in control of your choices. Nobody else is. Your work doesn’t control how you live. Your boss, your company, even your business. If you are really suffering at the detriment of your health and not coping (and I don’t just mean someone stole your lunch from the communal fridge, this is much more serious!) be prepared to make some choices. Re-prioritise, re-group, decide what’s important for you and maybe even down-mortgage if you have to. You can always get another job, you CANNOT get another body. Chronic illnesses as a result of stress and associated free-radical oxidation does not go away quickly. It takes months, sometimes YEARS.

At the end of my work saga, I took a completely different course in life and decided to enjoy a lifestyle on my own terms. I put a high price on my physical and mental health, and to this day have really come to live life abundantly. I love being a full-time mum whilst studying nutritional therapy, and building a home-based business. Sure, I’m not an overnight ‘cat video YouTube’ success, but I don’t care. I am healthy, happy, I enjoy the fun and adventure of raising a baby boy and have revolved EVERYTHING in the life of our family so we can enjoy quality of life. I found new and creative ways to earn an income so I can make time to help others either through health and nutrition or just a chat over coffee.

Belief and desire are the two most powerful tools, just identify what you believe is possible and find a desire to go after it. Your body, your family and your overall wellbeing will truly thank you for it.

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