You are too busy!


You are too Busy.

Students. I’m talking to you. You are too busy, and it is time for you to take back some time for yourself.

Recently, I was looking at the resume of a Duke student. It was insane. This person was in a gazillion clubs and tons of activities. I felt some sadness about the weight this student was trying to carry, all the balls they felt they had to keep juggling. The pressure seems unbearable.

When I was a student, and especially when I was a medical student, just being a student was enough. But now, students feel like they won’t be competitive to get a job or a place in grad school if they don’t out-activity their peers. 

Unfortunately, our culture has created this feedback loop that forces students to keep adding and adding to their schedules. The system forces you to try to one-up each other. You are victims of this culture we have created, a culture that tells you that no matter what you are doing, it is never enough. 

One consequence of all this busy-ness is that your nervous system never has time to settle. Which means that you may experience constant feelings of stress. When you want to relax or go to sleep, your nervous system is too amped up to let you rest.

What your nervous system really needs is time each day where you just do nothing. Sadly, scrolling through your phone or playing video games or even watching Netflix, is not really doing nothing. 

What your nervous system really needs is time each day where you just do nothing. Sadly, scrolling through your phone or playing video games or streaming TV, is not really doing nothing. 

Doing nothing is lying on your bed, just staring at the ceiling, while you follow the feeling of your breath moving in and out. Or sitting on a bench outside staring at the clouds while you pay attention to the feel of the sun on your face.

Turns out doing nothing is actually something when it comes to managing your nervous system.

Because you are human, there is a limit to what your nervous system can handle. And once your nervous system goes into a state of overwhelm, it is not possible to derive pleasure from anything you do. In order to thrive, we have to find balance. And being in balance means having space in your life; time to do nothing.

What about this idea? Consider cutting back on your list of activities. Make a list of every thing you are scheduled to do. Which ones are truly meaningful or necessary. Can you get out of even one? And the next time you agree to something else, can you pause and consider what you might lose, if you take on one more activity.

Start finding time each day do nothing. Become an expert at doing nothing. Maybe you can even list it on your resume.


The Mindful Twenty Something by Holly Rogers
“Wise, but not obscure. Practical, but lighthearted and inspiring.”

— MIRABAI BUSH, co-founder and Senior Fellow of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

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