Non-Traditional Addictions: Busy Addiction

Do you ever find it difficult to sit still and just "be" without having to do something "productive" with your time?  Does idle time without having a "schedule" or having something planned make you anxious?  When you have "down time", are you able to just relax, or do you need to be busy and doing something? Do you constantly have background noise playing, like the television or the radio,  or does having silence make you uncomfortable? If you have a few minutes of silence  to stop and catch your breath, do you have trouble relaxing or do you feel like you need to check something off your list of things to do? If you have a moment of pause, do you find yourself reaching towards your cell phone to play on the internet or waste time with social media? All of these point to what we call "busy addiction".  Down time, or time where we can just sit and reflect is so important to our mental health.  Those moments are where we can collect our thoughts, re-group, reflect on where we are at with our life and relationships, or do something that takes care of ourselves.

When we feel anxious by not doing something "productive", or if we feel like we need to constantly fill our time with things that keep us "busy" (even though we might complain about how "busy" we are!), it doesn't allow us to sit with feelings.  I tell clients that our feelings are like a beacon or a light that shines on what we are truly needing to feel fulfilled in life. Constantly being busy begins to be a cover-up for our true feelings and our ways of coping with life.  Anything we use to avoid uncomfortable feelings such as loneliness, fear, boredom, hurt, or betrayal can be addictive.  Having an addiction to being busy is one of these things.

Do you connect with "busy addiction"?  How is your busy addiction impacting your relationships?  Does it make you unavailable to those around you?  And is it covering up feelings that might actually point you towards more fulfillment in your life?


Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counselingrelationship counselingcouples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.