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Why am I so busy?

How can cycling help break that habit?

Smiling woman riding a road bike
My happy place

One thing I’ve noticed about many people post-COVID is how busy we’ve all become. Pre-COVID lots of people were busy doing their thing, me included, but if it’s possible I think we’re even busier now. One upside of the lockdowns we endured in 2020 and 2021, was that we had time to relax a bit more, take up new hobbies, and catch up with old friends (even if it was virtually). I don’t know about you, but I hoped we’d all learn from the experience and slow down a bit.

However, from my observation among my friends and acquaintances, this hasn’t happened. If anything, we’ve ramped up!

The good news is that you don’t need to be so busy and riding your bike (you know I’d have to give it mention) can be part of your anti-busyness strategy, as can other activities.

I recall writing a blog post for my dad’s PR agency website many years ago about how being busy had become a measure of your worth, and I still think that’s the case for many people. If you’re wondering what this all means, bear with me. Sometimes you’ll find yourself asking someone ‘Are you busy?’, instead of ‘How are you?’, as if it’s a reflection of their value as a person. If you were to answer, ‘No, I’m not busy’, it could be seen that you are lazy or lacking direction in your life, when in fact we should all be working towards not being so busy!

Looking after my physical and mental health is to me an essential part of my life. It keeps me grounded, happy and healthy. From my observation, many women put their own needs aside to care for others and are so busy that they have no time to care for themselves. As my mate Al regularly reminds me ‘Fit your oxygen mask first’, because if you don’t look after number one you are no use to anyone you’re attempting to care for. Sound familiar?

Coming back to my favourite topic, road cycling, regularly riding my bike is my number one self-care activity, and while it might also be yours, there are many, many other ways you can look after yourself. Alongside cycling, I also undertake loads of other things to keep myself happy and healthy. These include spending time with my partner, family, and many friends because I know that I’m a social creature and without other people in my life, I’m not a happy person.

But I also like to do things on my own like jogging, my weekly personal trainer session, weekly yoga class, regular remedial massages, shopping, writing my blog, gardening, reading, family history research, watching TV shows and movies, and much more. I also like to go away on holidays occasionally, eat out, volunteer for my cycling club, attend book club meetings, and I’m currently attempting how to learn to crochet. Sounds like I’m way too busy!!

In between all that activity, I also manage to spend some of my time relaxing and contemplating. I try hard to say ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do, but like most of us, I sometimes do stuff because I feel obliged. I think that’s also okay.

Where is this all leading? You need to find your life balance. Note that I didn’t call it ‘work-life balance’ because I think that term is wrong. I’m not sure who coined it but to me, work and life are not separate activities, work is part of your life, even if your work is mundane and not satisfying (thankfully mine is not), so I call it ‘life balance’. You only have one life so making sure it is as satisfying as possible by finding your balance.

If you don’t ride a bike regularly, I highly recommend it as something to add to your busy life. Maybe replace something you dislike with cycling. I guarantee it will make you feel like a kid again. There’s nothing like the freedom you feel whooshing along on a beautiful road bike. Read my previous post about the magical properties of the bicycle for some inspiration.

My more general advice is to take control of your own life. I know that everyone has things they must do for their kids, parents, partners, and others. And most of us need to work (me included) to pay the bills, do housework, and other unpaid duties, but you are the only one who can change things if you’re just too busy to enjoy the little things. Stop and smell the roses. Try to do this literally – next time you see some beautiful roses, go smell them. It will take just a minute or two but it’s really grounding. If you don’t like roses, pick something you do like to smell or look at. Next time you see a beautiful sunrise, stop for a couple of minutes and just look. Trust me, it’s very uplifting.

Share your thoughts about how we can slow down and stop focusing on being incessantly busy via comments or the Women Who Cycle Facebook page or Community group.