Are we too busy for connection? (column)
Love in the Mountains
Another summer season seems to be slipping through my fingers. There are never enough days to cross off the bucket list of hikes and adventures.
My husband and I recently found ourselves arguing about this exact issue. Both frustrated by how we struggle to have time to actually spend time together. From what I can tell and from what I’m hearing, we’re not the only couple in the valley with this problem. There are plenty of you among us.
Between work obligations, family visiting, weddings, baby showers, volunteering and other commitments, we barely have a few long weekends left to be out together exploring these mountains. We share in the disappointment but usually look to the other person to give up a commitment verses volunteering to let go of one of our own.
Some might call it a catch-22, but I see this as nearly an epidemic in our valley. We’re all just too busy to connect. Multiple jobs, the kid’s constant activities, that race you have to train for — it all gets in the way of our relationships.
Think about this: How many extra hours did you give to work this past week? How much time did you dedicate to training for your next race? What if that time was committed back into your relationships?
Being busy has nothing to do with being productive or fulfilled. Busyness is merely distraction wrapped up in convincing packaging. We over schedule meetings, draw out long to-do lists, add another activity, another event, all to make ourselves feel good for having so much to accomplish. But the research tells us, being this busy actually defeats and drains us. Taking a significant toll on our mental and physical well-being.
Without time to rest, slow down and to be present, our bodies and minds are in constant over drive. We’re overstimulated and burning out. We rarely ever pause to reflect on what we’re doing and why we do it, persistent to keep moving on to the bigger better thing. It’s honestly a compulsion and it may even suffice that many of us are addicted to staying busy.
To have meaningful connection with others and to build solid relationships, we need time. Time to experience each other, to talk, share and listen. We even need time to prioritize each other. This ended up being at the heart of that argument my husband and I had. Neither of us felt like we were much of a priority to the other, which wasn’t an intention of his nor mine. It’s merely the result of when we put too much ahead of relationships.
When we can begin to prioritize our families and our friendships, we also begin to practice saying no. No to what is extra. No to what is getting in the way of being able to slow life down and to spend more time “being” with each other — rather than “doing” stuff with each other.
I’ve been personally practicing saying no to work and reducing my overbooked schedule. It’s a tough exercise because I love what I do, but it is important because it is a practice of beginning to say yes to the relationships that matter most to me.
Jessica Heaney is a certified emotionally focused therapist in Vail. She specializes in relationship dynamics, helping individuals and couples strengthen and repair their relationships. For more information, visit http://www.jessicaheaney.com.