Hurrying through life only adds to our anxiety

Take a moment to breathe

Time-stress is a real thing, yet living life like it’s an emergency is expensive to our health.

Our bodies don’t know the difference between real and imagined. Think of a nice, juicy, ripe lemon for 30 seconds and you’ll salivate. While this is an obvious bodily response to thought, there are myriad more subtle, internal responses happening throughout our days. Our bodies respond to thoughts with chemical cascades that hurt and harm or help and heal.

Our habit of hurry is reaching epidemic proportion. An attitude of hurry creates tension and a resulting cascade of fight-or-flight chemicals, such as cortisol and adrenalin, to course through our bodies. These are necessary when we need to react quickly to danger but in the long-term create challenges for our bodies.

The stress 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’s important if we need to react quickly to avoid danger.

The challenge is our perception of what’s life-threatening 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 a contributing factor.

With time being a precious commodity, life often feels 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 habit of hurry. It was so prevalent my mind was racing and body tensed before my eyes opened in the morning. Shooting out of bed like I was shot from a cannon, I grew accustomed to feeling the pit in my gut because of my continued sense of urgency and need to hurry. It felt normal. But I was perpetually exhausted, living on nerve.

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

In a constant state of hurry, my immune system was compromised. It caused me to be sick more often and my mind didn’t work as well. It caused me to miss simple, obvious solutions and make mistakes. I grew more irritable and unhappy living in a self-induced habitual state of time-stress.

Research reveals a correlation between time pressure and negative effects on health and quality of life. Research also reveals our decision-making ability is compromised when we feel the pressure of time. While time can be a real pressure, the sense of needing to rush easily becomes 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. I certainly wasn’t my best-self when I felt in a rush.

A simple remedy is to check in with ourselves 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. Then, relax, take a few deep belly breaths, soften your body, and notice how that feels. Consciously compare the feelings of tension with the feelings of relaxation.

Then ask yourself if there’s really a need for speed. What is the worst that could happen if something took a few seconds longer? Consider whether stress is worth spending your physical, mental, and emotional health.

We become more efficient and effective when we lose the sense of emergency and allow ourselves to feel a sense of calm, thereby deactivating the stress response. Instead of suffering time delays, I now use those inevitable waiting times for my own benefit.

Even when time-pressure is real, I choose not to be a victim to the stress response. Simply taking a few deep, slow breaths as I remember life is not an emergency has made life much more pleasurable.

The upcoming holiday season is the perfect time to pause, take a breath and relax rather than rush through events that are meant for us to enjoy.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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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.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress 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 44 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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