What's the rush?

Do you have it?

I used to, yet I nearly got sucked in again. But, I didn’t.

Do you:

  • Have a sense of time urgency
  • Have endless to-do lists
  • Rush and multi-task chores
  • Constantly check phone or email
  • Become restless when waiting in lines
  • Skim reading material instead of reading it
  • Have a driving need to make the most of every moment
  • Speed when driving
  • Experience irritation with delays
  • Constantly try to find ways to save time.

If you see yourself in these symptoms, you may have hurry sickness. It’s both epidemic and contagious.

The seduction of hurry raised its head recently for me, as a fellow shopper taunted me about the length of the line at the cash register.

Quickly scanning the lines as she raced toward the front of the store, she cautioned me, “You’re going to wait an hour in that line.”

It was jarring. I instantly felt my body tense as I experienced her sense of urgency.

Go, go, go, rush, rush, rush was my way of life for many years. A successful day was measured in the number of things checked off my to-do list.

I don’t miss the feeling of living like a coiled spring, always under tension.

The habit of hurry is pervasive in today’s society, yet it comes with costs. Researchers have found the habit of hurry impacts not only our physical health, but also prevents us from living in alignment with our personal values and intentions, and it affects our relationships.

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.

Hurry sickness keeps us stuck in the stress response of fight-or-flight, flooding the body with adrenaline and cortisol, as the body is prepared for battle.

It’s often accompanied by a constant undercurrent of anxiety.

The heart rate increases, the blood vessels constrict, and perception narrows, as many 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 threat to our lives in situations where we’re not at risk of harm. Every-day life is experienced as a threat to our lives.

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, and can lead to burnout.

Interestingly, living a hurried life can also cause us to lose sight of our highest values and intentions for living.

Living in a constant state of hurry impacts our relationships, as we don’t truly listen to others, we’re often more irritable, and because of our narrowed perception, miss important cues others are giving us.

We may be more reactive and feel we constantly need to defend. Research suggests living a hurried life may make us less kind.

We can break this habit with awareness:

  • Become aware of the incessant internal dialogue to hurry, and question it
  • Make a commitment to enjoy and experience life, instead of multi-tasking your way through the day
  • Practise being fully present with people you care about
  • Don’t overfill your days with demands
  • Relax the demands you place upon yourself
  • Prioritize relaxation
  • Practice mindfulness.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”

I’m grateful to the lady who reminded me of my former self. We left the store at the same time. She reminded me of the price I used to pay when I lived a life of hurry.

Living on fast forward causes us to miss the goodness of life. Life is to be lived and enjoyed.

Stop and smell the roses may be the best advice of all.


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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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