WHAT’S THE RUSH?
As we move through different stages of life, we all have times when we feel pressured and hurried to fulfill expectations and responsibilities. This is normal. What isn’t healthy is finding ourself rushed and on edge all the time. There is an actual illness named “hurry sickness” that was identified by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Roseman when they noticed that many of their patients suffered from a “harrying sense of time urgency.” Hurrying steals our best. The faster we go, the more we miss out on what matters most. It leaves us feeling exhausted, empty, and stuck with the attention span of a gnat.
A few years ago, I found myself rushing across town clutching the steering wheel and elevating my blood pressure, so I could get to a yoga class on time. I didn’t settle down until the end of class missing its full benefit. Then I ran a number of errands, raced to get to another appointment on time, and finished up with some grocery shopping before heading home where a project was waiting for my attention. That evening I was exhausted and decided that it isn’t the person with the most insane schedule that wins, it’s the person who knows how to pace themselves and enjoy what they’re doing that appreciates life the most.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we buy into our culture’s affirmation of continuous accomplishments and the fear of appearing unproductive. There are also inner reasons why we do this. Kierkegaard once said, “The press of busyness is like a charm.” This means we feel important when our adrenaline is pumping. Thinking that constant activity may make us feel needed, liked, or admired, we choose to keep going. Feelings of loneliness are kept at bay when our schedule is full. As long as we’re active, we don’t have time to look at our emotional pain. We may be chasing some moment of happiness available as soon as we get our to do list done. Rushing can be addictive, so we don’t feel our worth unless we are jumping from one project to the next.
If we feel like we are doing more than ever before, but not enjoy the rewards of our labor, we need to reevaluate. According to researchers, here are some of the signs of “hurry sickness.” I identify with driving over the speed limit, as well as getting irritated with other drivers (especially those driving slow in the left lane). Hurried people can’t sit still and feel everything is urgent. They talk, think and walk fast, and are constantly worrying. They are exhausted but continue to multi-task, don’t want to take breaks, and live by their watch. Eating is hurried and not enjoyed. Any of this sound familiar?
It is only when we slow down that we realize what we are missing. I miss doing high quality work when I’m rushing because I’m prone to making more mistakes. The big picture gets lost in the stress of urgent details. Our ability to make sound decisions is affected because our brains are looking for quick answers, instead of the best solution. We miss down time which is critical to our wellbeing so we’re exhausted, operating on empty. Peacefulness and contentment are gone. Most importantly, meaningful conversations and deep relationships are not built because texting at a stop light doesn’t create that. We miss quality time with the people we love. Ann Voskamp writes, “In our rushing, bulls in china shops, we break our own lives.”
How do we stay away from “hurry sickness?” At the top of the list is slowing down and taking the pressure off. We do this by choosing times to disconnect from our various devices, slowly eliminating commitments to anything unnecessary, padding our schedules, and practicing thoughtfulness. Then we can prioritize and connect with what truly matters, which is building relationships that are supportive and nurturing, and embracing a healthy amount of solitude. Let’s realize love and concern for people is not compatible with hurrying. It’s time to believe that we are not measured in what we do, but in who we are. Know that at the end of life, it is our ability to love and be loved that is our greatest legacy.
As Francis de Sales writes, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. What is anything in life compared to peace of soul?”
Until Next Time – Sylvia