October 10, 2023

7 Signs Your Addicted to Busyness and 4 things you can do to save yourself

Blog, Wellbeing


As someone who has a tendency to be addicted to busyness, I have to keep an eye on when I’m crossing the line between living a full and healthy life into getting caught up in busyness.

It’s a question I constantly come back to as I think the lines between these two can get blurred, and it can be tricky to know the difference.

If you find yourself caught in the whirlwind of constant busyness, it’s time to recognize the signs that indicate you might be addicted to a frenetic lifestyle.

Busyness addiction refers to the compulsive need to stay busy and constantly fill our schedules, even when it becomes detrimental to our wellbeing.

As working mothers, we often face unique pressures and responsibilities, juggling our careers, family life, and personal needs.

The societal expectation to “do it all” can lead to a mindset where busyness is seen as a badge of honour, but it can also lead to burnout and a sense of overwhelm.

How, then, do we know if we’re caught up in busyness or if we’re simply living a full and healthy life?

Just because we have many things going on doesn’t necessarily mean we’re busy.

To me, busyness differs from a “full life” in how it impacts you.

When life is “full,” you are…

  • Consciously choosing
  • And have the psychological flexibility to choose freely
  • Happy (at least most of the time)
  • When life is “full,” you’re growing, and it feels good.
  • You might get into bed at night feeling tired, but it’s that fulfilled tired feeling

When life is “busy,”…

  • You feel like you’re just keeping up.
  • You feel like you can’t stop, take a break, or slow down.
  • Many days, you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling burned out.
  • Even if you enjoy much of what you do, you will still feel something deep down telling you, “This is not what life is all about.”
  • But you feel like you don’t have a choice but to be busy – you become fused to the need to be busy

Here are seven signs you might be addicted to busyness:

Sign number one: Constantly feeling overwhelmed. If you find yourself always rushing from one task to another, feeling like there’s never enough time, and experiencing a constant sense of being overwhelmed, it’s a sign that busyness has taken over your life.

Sign number two: Guilt when not busy. Do you feel guilty or uneasy when you have moments of downtime? Does the idea of being unproductive make you anxious? If you struggle with guilt or restlessness when you’re not constantly busy, it’s a strong potential sign that you’re addicted to the busyness cycle.

Sign number three: Neglecting self-care and personal needs. When your schedule is jam-packed, it’s easy to put your own well-being on the back burner. If you find yourself consistently sacrificing self-care activities or neglecting your own needs because you’re too busy, it’s time to reassess your priorities. And I’m not just talking about that yoga class but it can be not drinking enough water, not going to the toilet when your body needs you to, or being so busy you forget to eat lunch.

Sign number four: Inability to say no or set boundaries. Are you the go-to person for taking on extra tasks, whether at work or in your personal life? If saying no feels impossible and you constantly find yourself overwhelmed by commitments, it’s a sign that you’re caught in the busyness addiction trap.

Sign number five: Seeking validation through productivity. Do you measure your self-worth based on how much you accomplish or how busy you are? If you find yourself constantly seeking external validation or approval through your productivity, it’s a clear indication that busyness has become an addiction.

Sign number six: Feeling empty in moments of free time. When you finally have a break or some downtime, do you feel a sense of emptiness or restlessness? If you struggle to relax and enjoy leisure time because you feel like something important is being missed, it’s a sign that busyness has become your default state.

Sign number seven: Physical symptoms of chronic stress. Busyness addiction can take a toll on your physical health. If you experience chronic fatigue, frequent headaches, difficulty sleeping, or other physical symptoms related to stress, it’s a red flag that your busy lifestyle is affecting your well-being.

So, what do you do if you can relate to these signs?

The first step is awareness – In coaching, we say that awareness is curative, meaning the awareness alone can help make a positive shift.

Secondly, if you find yourself caught up in a busyness cycle, I would recommend dropping anchor. Dropping anchor is like a boat that’s coming into the harbour in the storm – the anchor stops it from being swept away in the storm.

Dropping anchor stops you from being swept away by the busyness storm. Dropping an anchor won’t make the storm go away – your to-do list might still be screaming at you. Your responsibilities don’t just disappear But dropping an anchor will hold you steady until the storm passes. It gives you awareness and choice about how you engage with the storm.It helps you to navigate the difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions as you think about your to-do-list

Dropping anchor might look or sound like:

  • focusing on your breath
  • stretching,
  • looking around the room and connecting with your environment
  • going for a walk in nature

The third step is to connect to your values. Get clear on what’s most important to you. That can guide your thinking, behaviour and choices in those moments when the busyness cycle wants to grab you and suck you in.

The final step is to focus on calming your nervous system.
When life gets a bit overwhelming—maybe it’s stress at work, a busy schedule, or just too much going on in your head – your nervous system starts sounding the alarm bells, like a fire alarm going off in your body. Soothing your nervous system is all about calming down those alarms. It’s like saying, “Hey, everything’s going to be okay. Let’s take a breather.” It’s like hitting the reset button on your inner stress-o-meter.

I hope those 7 signs of busyness addiction were useful to explore.

The 4 steps to unhook from busyness addiction help you to focus on practical things you can do to support yourself if you find yourself getting hooked into a busyness cycle.

If you find yourself being sucked into the busyness cycle – come join me in embracing ruthless prioritisation over relentless productivity.

Because our current culture will always draw us towards busyness.
Let’s put our hands on our hearts and remind our minds what’s really important.


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