The power of stillness to help with anxiety |

The power of stillness: 4 questions to ask when you’re busy all the time

There’s always something to do, isn’t there? Friends to see, chores to complete, family time or work, life admin. It can sometimes feel like there is no time in life for anything other than existing.

Or maybe life feels very full, in a good way, as if your running from one pleasant thing to another but there’s no time for reflection or taking stock. You’re so busy, you don’t know who you really are any more.

When you do take a moment to pause, what do you end up doing?

Can you be completely still or does TV, Facebook, chat, reading or something else take you away from the here and now of your experience?

It’s extraordinary how hard it is to come a complete standstill in life and just be. In this society, our way of being has become accustomed to being in perpetual motion. Stillness has become unfamiliar, disconcerting, to be avoided.

What happens when you do really come to a halt? Have you noticed how you respond? Is it something easy or does it leave you agitated, antsy and ready just to do something else?

Being busy is fine and sometimes necessary just to be able to manage the demands of life. But when busy gets in the way of your own experience of living, so that most of what you know is the busy-ness, not the feeling beneath, it might be time to pause and take stock of what’s happening.

When you allow yourself to move into stillness, you are able to get in contact with the fullness of your experience of the moment. And that’s about as real as you can be.

4 questions to ask when you are always busy

If your default place is to keep yourself busy and you’re curious why, you could try asking yourself the following questions:

What do I gain from being busy and what do I miss out on?

If I wasn’t being busy, who would I be?

If I allowed myself to really stop, where would I be right now in my life?

What do I yearn for most deeply, that being busy keeps me away from?

These may not be easy questions to answer. But when someone comes to counselling and talks of being too busy, or stuck in a rut, I’m drawn to wonder about what what might emerge in a moment of complete stillness: deeper meaning, connection, joy, sorrow, anxiety, grief, anger, fear?

Sometimes being busy is all about holding those feelings at bay, particularly when anxiety is involved. Because it feels to much or too scary to allow them in, to welcome them and say they have a home in you too.

So if this sounds like you, what can you do?

This week’s lifeline

Here’s something you can try for yourself. You’ll need to be outdoors and able to sit on the ground (or you can stand if that’s easier).

Find a tree you feel drawn to, where you can sit or stand quietly for 10 or 15 minutes.

It should have a trunk that can support your weight,  feel private and comfortable for you to be still for the whole time of the exercise.

When you’re ready, with conscious intention to be still, settle your back against the trunk so your weight is partially supported by the tree. Then let yourself into the experience of just being still for a while.

If you find your mind wandering down a path, just focus your attention on the branches, leaves or ground, bringing your attention back to the stillness and space inside and around you.

Bring your attention to each of your senses in turn, getting a feel for the experience of each, as best you can.

Stay with your whole experience for as long as feels comfortable.

At the end, bring your attention back to your surroundings and make a few notes about your experience if you wish. What thoughts or feelings came up? How did your body feel? What was it like to be still for a while?

Craving stillness but caught in worry and anxiety?

If you find yourself busy all the time, but feel rather empty and dissatisfied, counselling can help. I offer counselling and psychotherapy  online to work through difficult feelings and to help you find a more still, connected place within. If you’d like to make a first appointment, why not get in touch?


Photo John Mark Arnold