Hurry sickness an epidemic

We just have to wait! It’s a fact of life.

Waiting isn’t pleasant if you suffer from hurry sickness.

  • Grocery line-ups
  • Traffic lights
  • Slow drivers
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Being stuck in voice-mail hell waiting for the next available representative

Life is full of waiting.

I crack myself up as I approach grocery line-ups, scanning, not only for the shortest line-up, but also checking-out how many items are in each buggy. This is an important part of the equation, as is the demeanour of the clerk at the till.

There are many things to consider when choosing a grocery line, and I’ve become expert.

Having ingrained habits from living life in a hurry, I find myself subconsciously taking in all of the variables as I approach the teller, simply out of habit.

Heaven forbid I pick the wrong line.

I suffered from hurry sickness, a prevalent condition in our society.

The thought of hitting every red light, or calling a government agency with a call-cue used to cause my shoulders to tighten, and tension to build up in my body. 

Slow people drove me crazy; couldn’t they see I was in a hurry? My mind grumbled, I grew irritable and impatient with every delay. 

I know I’m not alone in the tendency to be in a hurry because I’ve made a study of watching people in those moments of waiting. I see many people who are just like me, suffering from hurry sickness. 

Hurry sickness is a term coined by two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, who noticed many of their patients displayed a sense of time urgency.

They always felt rushed and there was never enough time. It had negative effects on their health.

As I’ve learned about the impact my thoughts and attitudes have on my health, happiness, and relationships, I’m forming a new habit.

How we wait affects our health. Hurrying and impatience activate the amygdala, the fight-or-flight centre of the brain. The body prepares for battle.

The amygdala doesn’t question whether our lives are in danger. It just reacts, and the body follows, as it floods with adrenaline and cortisol. 

The heart rate increases, the blood vessels constrict, and perception narrows; body systems are put on alert as it prepares for attack. We may be more abrupt, and we don’t really hear what’s being said to us. Small things irritate us.

Because we’re over-using the stress response, our health suffers as we perceive threats to our lives in situations where we’re not at risk. Every-day life is experienced as a threat.

Many people are so used to living in a constant stress response, it feels normal.

It may be normal, but it’s not good for us. 

Living in the stress response is toxic to our health, and we may be doing it out of habit. We can break this habit with awareness.

Waiting can be annoying, for sure. But, if I have to wait, I prefer it not cost me my health, as well as my time. So, I use the time constructively.

I now notice when old habits of stress and tension begin. I pause and take a few slow, deep breaths, and I smile. 

I open my awareness, and awaken from the virtual reality of my mind to notice what’s really happening around me.

  • What do I see,
  • What do I hear
  • What do I feel?

I feel my muscles soften as I choose to bring myself totally present to the moment.

When delays happen or I have to wait, I don’t let hurry sickness lead the way. I use red-lights, long grocery line-ups, and times I have to wait as opportunities to relax, practice mindfulness, and become fully present. This supports my health and happiness. 

Waiting is not going to kill me, but stress can.


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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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