The hurried lifestyle that is endemic in modern society can cause serious issues with (one’s) health. People in Modern Society can never arrive fast enough. People are obsessed with getting more done, occupied with meeting multiple deadlines, and indulging in reckless driving. Actions such as these have associated risks that could require medical or psychological intervention. Sometimes, it is advisable to relax and smell the roses.
Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, cardiologists, coined the term “hurry sickness” defined as “a continuous struggle and unremitting attempt to accomplish or achieve more and more things or participate in more and more events in less and less time.” This phenomenon is evidenced by multitasking, rushing against the clock, feeling pressured to get things done and getting flustered by any slight problem. There is also 24 hour perpetual connectivity that fuel the perception of immediately having things as being normal. These situations and activities do not allow the individual any time to mentally or physically settle down.
Basically, this state of anxiety and the desire to rush are being normalized. Anxiety, we’re told, is a valid response to the stresses of modern living, and anxiety is almost considered a status symbol that signals how busy and successful we are. Since it is deemed normal, those who are victims of it may not come to that realization until some health situation arises.
There are physical and mental consequences associated with the constant need to rush. Some of the physical and mental effects of rushing and anxiety (there is some overlap) are as follows: shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, constant exhaustion, abnormal sleep patterns, muscle aches, stomach / GI issues, excessive sweating, tremors, easily startled, difficulty swallowing, depressed immune system, increased cortisol production. These symptoms may require pharmacological and or psychiatric intervention. They can all be helped by just taking time to disconnect and decompress.
The following are some strategies to help with feeling the need to hurry and rush (taken from the MindTools article How to Beat Hurry Sickness).
These approaches are useful when you are free to take action to change the situation.
- Question why you’re being asked to do something.If someone told you to jump, what would you say? “How high?” or “Why?” Your hurry sickness might be due to saying yes to people’s requests too often, and taking on too much.
It’s important to question the rationale behind the demands made of you, so you can politely say no to tasks that fall outside your job description, which other people are better qualified to do, or which you don’t have time for. You’ll then have space to do a better job on the things that really matter.
- Be more assertive if your hurriedness is caused by other people not doing their jobs properly.Learn how to give clear feedback , and to avoid taking on tasks that should be delegated to others.
- Stop multitasking.The danger of juggling multiple tasks is that you spread yourself too thinly. Either you won’t work to the best of your ability, or you won’t ever complete anything.
Calmly focus on one thing at a time. You’ll do a better job and be in less of a rush.
- Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.Prioritization is a crucial survival skill for getting through pressured times. It brings order to chaos, creates calmness and space, and reduces stress.
Plan an order of work. Focus on the essential and set aside – or quietly drop – the trivial. Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle is a great tool to use to do this.
- Improve your time management. There are only ever 24 hours in a day. Good time management allows you to put them to the smartest possible use by getting more done in less time .
Switch your focus from activities to results, from hurriedness to effectiveness, and give dedicated, uninterrupted time to the tasks that matter. You can then target your attention where it’s most needed.
These approaches apply when you have no power to change the situation.
- Slow down.Working flat out and struggling to relax isn’t good for you or your work. We all need time to stop and think, to regain our perspective, and take stock of our tasks.
Simply taking regular breaks, even just to “stretch your legs,” can help you to slow down and collect your thoughts. Toffler’s Stability Zones can calm your pace, and relaxation techniques and meditation are useful practical tools for finding peace amid chaos.
Accepting only light projects for a while can also help you to “depressurize” and to take things more easily. When the time comes to increase your workload again, you’ll be in a better position to deal with it effectively and calmly.
- We mean it. Set your out-of-office notifications, ditch the laptop, and take a vacation . And if you’re an active type rather than a beach dweller, don’t cram too much into your itinerary!
Switching off can be tough when you’re used to being “on the go,” but the benefits of doing so can be immense. A week or two of fun and relaxation will reduce your anxiety and allow you to reassess your priorities.
- Seek support from your manager, colleagues and family.Working with a strong support base and finding allies within it is a great way to share concerns and responsibilities, and to stop “busyness” becoming “hurriedness.”
Emotionally Oriented Strategies
This category of approaches is useful when the stress you’re experiencing comes more from the way that you perceive a situation than the situation itself.
- Stay positive.It’s easy to get into a cycle of negative thinking when you’re overloaded and rushing. Working with a positive outlook can help you to feel equal to the challenges that face you, and motivated to tackle them.
- Manage your self-control.Our emotions run high when we’re working against the clock, so managing them is important. Our articles on managing your anger , showing patience , and using emotional intelligence can help.
Contact the staff at Ab-Sutra Wellness and Fitness (North Austin, TX) for yoga, meditation, tai chi and chi kung. We can help you decompress / de-stress from your hectic lifestyle.