Review the following statements in “true or false” fashion. Do any of these situations describe aspects of your daily life?
- There’s nothing wrong with talking on the phone while using the bathroom. It accomplishes two things at once and hey, if it’s done quietly, no one ever has to know.
- I have no problem typing on the computer or my phone while people are trying to talk to me. I totally get the gist of what they are saying and I’m sure I hear most of whatever it is they are trying to tell me.
- Who doesn’t occasionally apply mascara while driving? I am perfectly capable of steering with my elbows and applying make-up if I am running behind. I’ve never once been in an accident. No harm, no foul.
- Fine. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I pee while showering. I don’t know what the big deal is. It saves a good 2-3 minutes and is one less thing I have to do when I get out.
- I am a super fast reader. When I read the newspaper, articles online etc., I don’t have to read it verbatim. I pride myself on being able to “skim” what I’m reading, so as to only focus on the important words.
- The speed limit is really a suggestion, more or less. I usually “have” to drive over the speed limit to make up for lost time; if I didn’t, I’d be late almost every day. So, speeding is really a necessity more than anything else.
- People have trouble keeping up to me, as in I am a ridiculously fast walker. I can “out walk” anyone I know. Leisurely walking is really quite foreign to me. Who has time to walk slowly anyway?
- I have trouble getting my mind to shut off, especially at night. I desperately want my mind to be quiet, but I’m so overdone by the end of the day. Even though I’m exhausted, I frequently find myself going over the day’s events—and the following’s—in my mind.
Sound familiar? Nowadays, most of us pride ourselves on being “multitaskers.” Quality used to be of the essence, but time has assuredly taken its place. In fact, let’s be honest, it’s not necessarily how we spent our day anymore, it’s how much we got done that counts.
Sadly, many of us have convinced ourselves that more is better, regardless of how many things we had to do at once to get there. While checking everything off on our to-do list sounds great, there’s a problem: chronic multitasking can have serious consequences. In order to multitask, we actually impose mental pressure and a sense of urgency on ourselves. In other words, these pressures are a form of stress and invoke a physiological response, whether we realize it or not.
In fact, there’s a new illness in town. It’s called “hurry sickness.” You can actually find the term in medical dictionaries now. One online medical dictionary defines this as “A malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.” Here’s another online definition: “A behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency.” In other words, chronically rushing or hurrying is in and of itself a form of stress.
While hurrying seems like second nature and even necessary in many cases, there is definitely a price to pay. According to Brent W. Bost, MD, 30 million American women are likely suffering from “Hurry-up Sickness.” He calls this condition “The Hurried Woman Syndrome” and it’s caused by constantly living in over-drive, attempting to get more and more done. The symptoms? Fatigue or low mood, weight gain, and low libido, just to name a few. When you add in the definition from the online dictionaries, you’ve got the aforementioned symptoms along with “feeling flustered, overwhelmed and anxious.” Oy.
Remember the old “fight or flight” response we learned about in 8th grade? Well, most of us should have paid a bit more attention because constantly trying to multitask— rushing—puts us in a state of chronic overdrive or stress, and physiologically, can wreak widespread bodily havoc. When under attack, adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Its counterpart, cortisol, causes an increase in blood sugar, alters the immune system and suppresses the digestive and reproductive systems.
Any old physiology textbook will describe the results of constantly living in a state of overdrive. Through a series of chemical reactions, those hormones that were meant to save us from an immediate threat get chronically turned on and eventually go haywire. They still cause all of the aforementioned processes, but they just don’t shut off. The results are not so pretty.
Now go back and reread the roles of adrenaline and cortisol, only this time, think about how they might affect the body long-term. Sort of brings to mind many of the chronic disease processes in America, doesn’t it? Some of the most common ailments many of us are battling include heart arrhythmias and/or palpitations, high blood pressure, diabetes, digestive problems (ulcers, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, etc.), fertility issues and more. So you see, that which was meant to “save” us can actually do the opposite and begin to deteriorate us.
Until I began to look beyond the surface, I hadn’t even realized what I was doing to myself—my body, specifically—or those around me. I really never gave much thought to the fact that chronically hurrying is actually very stressful and very hard on the body. I think a lot of us feel like it’s just a way of life, or in America, the way of life…until you start thinking about the consequences.
Spend some time taking a step back and really looking at your current lifestyle.
Is it synonymous with living in chronic overdrive?
Can you “keep the peace” throughout the day, or are you simply surviving from one day to the next?
Is it easy or difficult for you to wind down at night?
Have different diets, supplements or medications not produced the changes you were hoping for?
Together, let’s start addressing the real issues at hand. You never know, it just might change your life.
Read the follow-up to this article, “What’s the Rush-Part 2” here.