Do you belong to the cult of busy?

I really wanted to touch on a theme that become so glaringly obviously to me during my last 2 month long trip in Canada.

I’m sure you’ve seen many other articles or blogs in the past couple of years about the so-called “cult of busy:" the normalization of being too busy all the time, wearing busy-ness like a badge of honour and making it a part of our daily identity.

If you are a member of this cult, you’ll know the common answer to the question “how are you doing?” is something along the lines of “crazy busy! Oh, you know, swamped. Like, so busy. There’s just so much going on right now.”

I felt like I was extra sensitive to it this time round. Maybe it’s because by “normal” standards, my life in Mexico isn’t that busy. Busy-ness certainly isn’t celebrated in the same way. My busy-ness is here is actually met with scepticism and concern, because it goes against the grain of the reasons why most foreigners chose to live in this chilled-out beach town. People here are busy doing things they enjoy: surfing, spending time with family, reading books… just like retired people are busy with their social activities. It’s a different kind of busy, a soul-satisfying kind of busy that differs from the “cult of busy” I’m referring to here.

I also feel particularly sensitive to other people’s busy-ness in relationship to this precious time in my daughter’s life. I am so acutely aware of how quickly time is passing, how fast she is growing, and that she’s only going to be a baby for so long.

Good friends proclaimed they were just too busy, couldn’t make the time, or could we squeeze in a visit during a 30 minute lunch break, or combine it with a power walk? I was keenly aware of the impact of these words. I felt sad. Not so much for me, but for the fact that they were missing out on such a beautiful experience to share with me and my daughter.

Then what hit me even deeper was that it was like a mirror to my own entrenched experience in the cult of busy that has only recently begun to shift (and as you read in the last newsletter, I still struggle with taking too much on). I realized I was also sad for myself, the part of me that had missed out on experiences like this in the past.

It wasn’t so long ago that living life in a chaotic whirlwind, only just managing tiny increments of time for the things that ultimately should matter the most: family, connected friendships, new life, relaxation, creation. I kept myself so busy that I know that I damaged relationships. This again is why I was so sensitive to this behaviour in others, because it was an insight into how some people in my life must have felt around me. When I was so deeply embedded in my self-imposed mania, I didn't see how hurtful my actions were to the people that were closest to me.

I was curious as to where term “cult of busy” came from, and it turned out it was coined by author Scott Berkun. He writes, “When I was younger I thought busy people were more important than everyone else. Otherwise why would they be so busy? I had busy bosses, busy parents, and always I just thought they must have really important things to do. It seemed an easy way to see who mattered and who didn’t...This is the cult of busy.”

Yet for me the drive to busy-ness is often about something deeper for many of us women. It can be tied into our feelings of self-worth and value, yes, but it is also a way of keeping us so distracted.

It’s a way of numbing ourselves to feelings of loneliness, disappointment, pain, and anxiety.  We keep ourselves excessively busy for the same reasons that we drink alcohol, binge eat food, or move quickly from one relationship to the next, never allowing ourselves time to really just be with ourselves.

I also know that when I was entrenched in busy-ness, the only I ever gave myself permission to turn off or slow down was when I was either drunk or hungover. Rabbi Elise Goldstein eloquently writes: for many of us, our busyness is a drug, and we use it dangerously. We overprogramme on purpose. We stretch ourselves to prove something. If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we will admit that often we use our excessively hectic schedules to escape ourselves. To escape the one thing we strive to cope with over these holy days: our inner life, our minds, and our spirits.

What about you? Does any of this feel familiar to you?

If you find yourself spread too thin, missing time with close friends or family, or answering the question “how are you?” more often than not with something to do with how busy you are - try some of these tips.

Reframe your response

We all get busy sometimes. Have a looming deadline for work? Say so. Inadvertently overschedule our week? Offer an apology and acknowledgment that you are stretched too thin. You can also try shifting your language using the following suggestion from Laura Vanderkam’s article in the Wall Street Journal.

Instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "it's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: "I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority." "I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.

You may decide not to say “this isn’t a priority” outloud - but it can be a really great indicator of what is going on inside.

Is it a "hell yes?"

Ask yourself… is this a “Hell Yes??” If it is, then go for it. If not, then consider prioritizing differently.

Chose quality over quantity

Do you really need to go to every event you get invited to? Are all of your acquaintances bringing something meaningful into your life, or are you saying yes to your boyfriend’s sister’s boss’s birthday because you don’t want to be home alone on Friday night?

Log your time

If you are really confused about where all your time is going, and to help gain clarity around how you are spending your time, it can be helpful to log your time spent doing different activities. Are you really as busy as you think? Are there areas of your life that can be readjusted in order to prioritize self-care and connection? In her article in LifeHackers, Janet Choi recommends connecting your attention and action with a time audit. “Break down how you spend time on the computer with RescueTime. Or see how you answer the questions of "What did you get done today?" and "What did you pay attention to today?" over time using iDoneThis.”

Be revolutionary

Creating a new normal and going against the grain can be tough sometimes, especially when you are surrounded by SO. MUCH. BUSY-NESS. I used to brag that the reason I accomplished so much at such a young age was because I didn’t sleep. I now make a point of emphasizing the things I do for self-care. I communicate my desire to free up more time, rather than fill it. And I’m honest about when this is a struggle and when I’ve fallen back into the time-trap.

Together we are strong, right? Let’s create a new normal together…

Is the cult of busy really one that you want to be a member of? What about the cult of revolutionary self-care and connection?

Are you with me? Let me know in the comments if you are. I’d love to hear one action you will be taking (or have already taken) to make more room for presence in your life.

I’ve also included a chapter with even more strategies on this topic in my upcoming guide: Drink Less, Be More. Pre-sale info will be coming soon - are you excited!?! I am!! I can’t wait to share it with you.

Cheers a relaxing weekend ;)


Ps. I have a new instagram account dedicated to Drink Less, Be More! Follow for daily inspiration, yummy drinks and lifestyle tips. Find me at

Ugh... crash and burn... now what?

It happened. After such a wonderful high from finishing my manuscript (yay!! Drink Less Be More to be published next month!!) and starting off my "supercharged September" with vigour, intaking new clients, new collaborations, whirlwind visits in Canada, a professional photoshoot for my book cover, studying and writing the final exam for my advanced coaching certification, aaaaand being a super-mama to my almost-11month old daughter who is going through a sleep regression phase, then a week of travel to finally make it back to my home in Southern Mexico... I crashed.

Like, meltdown couldn't hold back tears state of total emotional and physical exhaustion kind of meltdown. Meltdown like my basic problem solving / rational skills where gone. Meltdown like I had to stop myself from totally spiralling out of control by remembering all of the self care tools I talk about with my clients kinda meltdown.  Meltdown like all of a sudden my commitments felt like too much, I felt guilty about not sending my blog last week (though I know you weren't holding your breath, right caitlin? And don't worry, those juicy revelations are still coming this Friday ;), like all I wanted to do was curl-up in a fetal position on the floor kinda meltdown.

I won't go into the details as they aren't really important. A lot of it can be summed up by the fact that this is my "deep work:" my pattern of taking on too much, overcommitting myself, and putting way too much pressure on myself. It runs deep and is almost ever-present. I am getting a lot better at catching myself in the pattern, at saying no, at taking sips rather than gulping at life and opportunities but it is a new way of being I must learn and remind myself of.

Just like you, dear one. I know we're in this together, which brings me comfort. We're committed to unlearning the patterns that brought us to the point of wanting / needing to change, and writing new stories for ourselves.

I am committed to sharing this with you because I have a feeling you can relate. Another aspect of my "deep work" is the need to appear perfect, like all is well, always.

The fear bubbles up.... if I share this, you're going to think I'm incompetent. My clients who read this are going to question my abilities. The people who are thinking about working with me are going to have doubts.

I've come to listen to the fear. It is usually a signal that something is worth doing. We don't get to do the deep work without pushing through the fear that usually protects us from going deep. From showing up and being real and raw and vulnerable and human. 

I've also come to appreciate these meltdown moments because they are usually an important indicator that it's time to check in with myself about my self-care habits and rituals. It's probably not surprising to you that some of my most important rituals had fallen by the wayside recently.

These are the rituals and habits that keep me grounded and more able to handle the ups and downs that life inevitably throughs my way.

1) A non-negotiable morning routine: This is the basis of almost a whole chapter in my upcoming book. Starting the morning with a solid self care routine is one of the #1 factors that highly successful people state they do daily. This includes "you time" ie if you have kids and / or a partner, it's even more important for you carve a little slice of time just for you. I recommend that your morning routine be holistic and nourishing for your mind, body and soul.

The focus on the mind/soul can include meditation and/prayer, practicing gratitudes, journaling on desires or intentions, mindfulness or self-compassion practices.

The focus on the body can include starting your day with an alkalizing water + lemon, a cup of herbal, green tea or yerba mate, a nutritious and alkalizing green juice or smoothie, stretching, yoga, a walk in nature, a bubble bath (to start the day, what a treat!).

The key is to find a few of these practices that work well for you, and make them a priority no matter what. Even if it means getting up 30 minutes earlier (you might also try going to bed 30 mins earlier - we'll get to that in a bit).

When you start each day with intention and focus on self-nourishment - you are more likely to make decisions with clarity and calm, feel prepared for the unexpected, and welcome more abundance and awesomeness. 

My morning routine was only half there with so much travel, different accommodation, and exhaustion. I am recommitting to the mind/soul aspect of my practice. What can you do right now to change your morning routine to a more nourishing one caitlin?

2) Call in an SOS: There's a reason why I have an extra 20 minute session built into my monthly coaching program for my clients. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, have a fight with family or a partner, or you suddenly find yourself completely overwhelmed (or any combination of these things and more). Having a safe person(s) you can call and express your raw, uncensored feelings to is so important. Sometimes the very act of reaching out and saying "I'm feeling like sh*t right now, I can't cope, I need help" can help you feel less along.

This also allows us to feel our feelings without stuffing them, or turning to food, alcohol or even more business to hide the pain. Feel and deal, as they say. The first has to happen before the second is possible.

Yesterday I put the call out to 3 people. As soon as I gave myself permission to have these feelings and share them, the weight started lifting.

Who can you call for an SOS caitlin? Make a list of at least 3 people, more if possible. People are busy and it's great to know there's more than one person you can call in case of a meltdown moment. If you need support in this area, respond to this email and let me know.

3) Follow through / keep your word: This is a biggie. In times of overwhelm and pre-meltdown, you might start to feel things slide. You miss an appointment. You don't respond to emails. You have outstanding bills. You change your mind about a commitment you've made, but instead of being honest about it, you avoid the situation all together.

From the outside, this makes sense. If you aren't able to show up for yourself, how can you be expected to show up fully for other people? 

The problem is that leaving things undone creates an underlying anxiety that will keep you feeling stuck and unable to work on the deeper healing that's needed. It is emotional baggage that weighs you down.

Set aside 1 hour of time, and follow through on everything you've left slide. This doesn't mean you have to say yes again to everything you've committed to. It means being honest about what you can do. If you've changed your mind or are too busy / overwhelmed / financially stretched / fill in the black - let the other person know. If you've missed an appointment or cancelled yet again on coffee with a friend, write to them and let them know that you are sorry that you can't follow through right now.

Is there anything you've left hanging? Any amends that need making? Any bills left unpaid? Set aside an hour THIS WEEK to take care of these things. Trust me, you will feel better, lighter, and will create more energetic and emotional space for your own healing. 

4) A nourishing bed-time routine: Just as important as starting your day with intention, is ending it with intention. The following are some steps to take to ensure peace of mind and healing sleep:

  • Turn off cell phones, social media and tv at least 30 minutes before bed - though an hour before is ideal.

  • Do a "brain dump" - write down anything that's nagging at you, any of your major to-dos for the next day.

  • Make amends - did you fight with your partner? Find a way to make peace before bed. My grandma always used to say, "never go to bed angry," and I try to live by that. If it's not possible to speak directly to the person you'd like to make amends to, write them a letter in your journal. You may or may not ever send it, but it's important to clear the energy around this. You might want to revisit this during the hour you've set aside for the step above.

  • Self-care - tea, cacao, bubble baths, stretching, candles, self-massage, gentle music, meditation, guided meditations / visualisations, the list does on. Again, the key is to find what works for you to let go of your day and prepare yourself to sleep. You might need to start preparing yourself for bed earlier than you are used to.

  • If you are someone who relies on a glass of wine or three to unwind at the end of the day - the step is particularly important. Really spend some time exploring what alternatives will work for you. If you aren't able or wanting to cut wine out completely, try cutting down on the quantity - such as from 3 glasses to two, or from one glass to half a glass.

Also try to drink your wine earlier in the evening and not right before bed. I also go into this in a lot more detail in my upcoming book, but drinking alcohol right before bed disrupts your sleep cycle and though you might feel like you are shutting off your brain and falling asleep more quickly - you will actually sleep more fitfully and wake up more tired.

These are my top tips for dealing with overwhelm and impending meltdowns. We are creatures of habit and creating solid routines and rituals are crucial for our health. We are also social creatures, so having a support system and following through on our social bonds and commitments are equally as important for your well-being.

What are your favourite strategies for coping with overwhelm or meltdowns? Have I missed anything here? Let me know!

As always, can't wait to hear from you.


Caitlin Padgett, your coach for drinking less alcohol, enjoys a cup of tea on the couch.

What is normal?

This desire to feel “normal” with our relationship to alcohol is something I hear so often, so I know I’m not alone in this feeling.

I used this sentence in my last blog post (see below) and it triggered a heartfelt response from one of my best friends.

“Caitlin,” she said, “when I read that I felt like what you were saying is that I’m not normal, which implies that there’s something wrong with me.”

She was also quick to remind me of a webinar we had listened to where the host kept talking about “normal people,” distancing herself and other “problem-drinkers” from people who didn’t have a perceived problem with alcohol.

This is actually language I hear often from people in recovery-based programs. There are the “normies” and then there are those in recovery. I remember how odd it felt when I was introduced to someone through a dear friend and former heroin user who actually said, “Are you a normie or one of us?”

On the one hand, I understand this form of othering. When you are part of the minority, the 10-15% of the population who suffer strongly from addictions, it is a form of finding community and solace. “We might be weird/strange/different/addicts and have a set of experiences that no one who hasn’t been an addict can understand, but at least we’re in it together.”

I also can totally understand where my clients are coming from when they say, “I just want to drink like a normal person.”

When I hear “normal” I know what my clients really mean is not overthinking it, not debating internally over whether to have a third glass, not stuffing the fear that you might lose control, not using alcohol as a substitute for something else.

Normal means average, standard, keeping with the status quo.

It means how we perceive others when we are at a restaurant and see someone ordering one glass of wine, or splitting a bottle between two people but declining the third partial glass. It means how we view that new girl we meet at a party who totally knows she’s done after 3 drinks. It means watching some leave their cocktail half empty after last call and doesn’t rush to the bar for for “one more for the road.”

But is it really so clear cut? For those of us slightly outside of the “norm” described above… does that make us abnormal?

The reality is that many more of us fit into the spectrum between what is considered normal drinking and problematic drinking - the difference is that we don’t talk about it. It’s not socially acceptable to say that we might have a problem, precisely due to this fear of “othering.” The idea that if you have a problem with alcohol you must be an alcoholic, or you must choose sobriety as your only option, is often what prevents many people from getting support.

The black/white idea has been perpetuated by more traditional approaches to addictions… even so far as creating the concept of denial. You are either an alcoholic, or you’re not. You have a problem, or you don’t. But if you have a problem and aren’t able to admit you're an alcoholic, then you must be in denial.

Unfortunately, this idea keeps a lot of people from seeking support, or looking for alternatives. As Dr Joseph Nowinski, a psychologist, researcher and author of “The Almost Effect” writes in his Psychology Today article The myth of the “fine line” separating normal from problem drinking:

“So when men or women whose drinking might place them fairly deep into this zone argue that they are not alcoholics, they may not be in "denial." That's not to say that these people are not experiencing behavioural  emotional, or physical problems related to their drinking; but the truth is that they are not yet dependent on alcohol, and abstinence may not necessarily be the only viable option open to them.”

Which is where my work comes in - supporting women to find options that are meaningful and relevant to their unique lives and experiences.

It is also where the challenge of “naming” what we experience or desire becomes a bit more difficult. I was describing this challenge to a new member of my team last night - saying that I feel like I have to use a lot of words to describe what I do.

This brings us back to the question of how to define our drinking in terms of the ideal, in terms of the changes we want to make.

My friend suggested “healthy” vs “unhealthy” drinking… which probably has a less stigmatizing effect than normal vs abnormal.

I often coach clients to talk about the changes they’d like to make in terms of their health… when you tell others you are changing your drinking because you want to be healthier - it is harder to argue, whereas speaking in terms of “problems” with alcohol can be quite triggering to others.

What do you think?

What about searching for other adjectives that represent how you want to feel about alcohol such as balanced, independent, collegial, fun, unattached, flirtatious, casual?

For me, the ideal is definitely casual. We see each other every once and awhile, but it’s no biggie. Alcohol’s not what I turn to when I’m sad, in need of support, feeling lonely or wanting to have a wild time.  I now know how to access these things without alcohol.

It is so important to get clear on what you want your relationship to alcohol to be. Without this clarity, it is almost impossible to work towards a goal. Imagine training to run a marathon, and expecting to finish without a map or a even knowing where to cross the finish line?

What is your ideal relationship to alcohol? What adjective would you use to describe this goal? Let me know in the comments!

Did this blog resonate with you? Can you imagine a larger conversation where it would become more comfortable to discuss these ideas without fear of judgement?

Please share this with someone you’d like to loop into the conversation, let’s start creating a groundswell :)

And make sure to open next week’s email which will be about the cult of busy, lost friendships and some interesting/hard revelations from my time in Canada (yep, I’ll be on the plane back to Mexico next week!)