It’s Back-to-School time, the season of busy. Following the summer vacations, relaxation, and time home with family, we catapult ourselves into after-school activities, athletic practices and games, school projects, PTA, scouting, etc. We wear our busy like a badge of honor. When acquaintances ask how we are, we exclaim, “BUSY!” We believe that this sense of overwhelm is the inevitable result of the items on our to-do lists, but is it really? The truth is that we create a lot of unnecessary anxiety with our thoughts: “I have a MILLION things to do!” “There’s NEVER enough time!” “We’re gonna be late!” The first step is realizing that you don’t actually have to DO anything. Sure, you might not like the consequences if you stopped showing up to work, feeding your children, or paying your taxes, but it is ultimately your choice. Once you admit that you actually WANT to do everything on your list (or at least delegate it out), you take back your power, and your stress level will fall. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to be late, to bring store-bought cookies to the PTA Bake Sale, or to throw a frozen pizza in the oven instead of cooking. But why the heck does a doctor care if you’re busy? When you are busy, overwhelmed, anxious and stressed, your stress hormone, cortisol, increases. When your cortisol level is high, your blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight all increase, which puts you at increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and stomach ulcers. Also, your immune function drops, making you more susceptible to infections and even to cancer. You can still do all the things, but the frenzy is optional. For your mental and physical health, give up the busy, doctor’s orders.