Good News for Busy People: Study Says You Make Healthier Choices

Does that mile-long to-do list help you make better health choices?

By: Amanda Mushro
Multiracial young creative people in modern office. Successful hipster team in coworking. Businesspeople walking in the corridor of an business center. Motion blur.

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Multiracial young creative people in modern office. Successful hipster team in coworking. Businesspeople walking in the corridor of an business center. Motion blur.

Photo by: Vasyl Dolmatov

Vasyl Dolmatov

If your days are filled with the never-ending balancing act of work and family and you can’t imagine how you would squeeze one more thing into your day — there are some advantages to keeping up this hectic pace. Amid the rush-rush of your packed schedule, you are more likely to make healthier choices.

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, people who perceive themselves to be busy all the time exert more self-control. This control is what helps them to make healthier decisions. Researches of the study say being busy, or just thinking you are always busy, can help you delay gratification, and this is what leads to making those decisions that will bring long-term benefits. So if you feel like you never have enough hours in the day, this may be the motivation you need to stay healthy.

“Every day, we make many decisions that involve choosing between our immediate and future well-being,” says co-author of the study Amitava Chattopadhyay. “For instance, do we go to the gym after work, or do we just go home to relax in front of the television?”

But the healthy life choices go beyond hitting the gym instead of choosing some extra relaxation time. “Do we save money for retirement, or do we splurge on a trip? Do we eat fruit or cake for dessert?” Chattopadhyay add. “When we perceive ourselves to be busy, it boosts our self-esteem, tipping the balance in favor of the more virtuous choice.”

For the study, researchers examined people with a "busy mindset," or the "subjective perception of busyness," to see how this influenced their decision making. What they found was feeling busy — real or not real – "bolsters people's sense of self-importance, which, in turn, can increase self-control," the study states.

The study says people who feel pressed for time tend to become anxious and make indulgent decisions as opposed to people who feel they always have a busy lifestyle. So on those days when you’re feeling stressed about your busy schedule, reassure yourself that the pace of your life is helping you make better decisions for your health. However, it’s still good to take a break, indulge in some yummy food, and enjoy some TV time on the couch, right?

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