Time, there will be time

Our bodies don’t know the difference between real and imagined.

They respond to thoughts with chemical cascades, which hurt or help, harm or heal. Think of a nice, juicy, ripe lemon for 30 seconds, and the mouth salivates.

The attitude of hurry causes tension and a cascade of fight-or-flight chemicals, such as cortisol and adrenalin, to course through our bodies.

They help if we need to react quickly to danger, yet in the long-term, create challenge for our bodies.

Our hurry habit is reaching epidemic proportion. The cost of haste is expensive to our health.

While life seems to be speeding up and demands are increasing, living life as an emergency kicks our minds and bodies into the stress response.

That response is essential to keeping us safe and alive. It helped our ancestors move quickly out of the way of sabre-toothed tigers and venomous snakes. It is still handy if we need to react quickly to avoid a speeding car.

The challenge is our perception of what threatens our lives is often skewed. From a historical perspective, we live in relative safety, yet the epidemic of stress is increasing. The perceived pressure of time is one contributing factor to this epidemic.

Time has become one of the most precious commodities we have; life can feel like a pressure cooker. Products and advertising reflect today’s perceived need for speed with the enticing use of words such as instant and quick.

We want to get wherever we are going, or do what we are doing, faster.

Some time ago, I recognized my tendency to feel I had to hurry, which had became so prevalent I could feel my mind race and my body tense the minute my feet hit the floor in the morning.

I grew accustomed to feeling the pit in my gut because of my continued sense of urgency and need to hurry.

Every delay in traffic and slow person at the grocery store caused internal tension. Hurry became my habit. Soon enough, my physical, mental, and emotional health reflected the effects of my self-induced chronic stress.

Research reveals correlation between time pressure and negative effects on health and quality of life. Research also reveals our ability to make the best decisions is compromised when we feel the pressure of time.

In a constant state of hurry, not only was my immune system compromised, causing me to be sick more often, my mind did not work as well, and I missed simple, obvious solutions.

I grew more irritable and unhappy living in a habitual state of time stress.

While time can be a real pressure, the sense of needing to rush can also become a habit, which prevents us from savouring the simple pleasures and from being able to think clearly.

I found a key to freedom when I recognized how pervasive my hurry habit had become, and the effect it had on my life.

A simple remedy is to check in with yourself throughout the day; sitting in traffic is the perfect place to begin. Pause and notice when the sense of hurry is present and how it feels in your body, mind and emotions.

Do you feel your best self when you feel in a rush?

Then, relax, take a few deep belly breaths, soften your shoulders, jaw, hands and abdomen and notice how that feels. Mentally compare the feelings of tension with the feelings of relaxation.

The next step is to ask if there is really a need for speed. What is the worst that could happen if something took a few seconds longer?

Ask yourself whether spending your physical, mental, and emotional health on hurrying is worth it to you and your loved ones.

We become more efficient and effective when we lose the sense of emergency, allow ourselves to feel a sense of calm, thereby deactivating the stress response.

Even when time pressure is real, if we take a few deep, slow breaths and check in with our senses, we are no longer victim to the stress response that is activated by the perceived need to hurry.

The holiday season is the perfect time to pause, take a breath, and relax rather than rush through events meant for us to enjoy. Become the crock-pot that allows for the rich flavours of life to be savoured.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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