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The Dangers of Rushing Through Life

I was at a launch event when I ran into a jet-setting industry friend who was posing for the cameras with her brilliant ‘silver screen’ smile and when a reporter asked her how her latest project was going, she enthused, “It’s been crazy! We’ve been shooting non-stop but I think it’s going to be a big success!” However, when her interview was done, she walked over to me, and that’s when I saw the faint shadows under her eyes that her concealer couldn’t hide and she looked too thin so I asked her if she was alright. She said simply, “I’m just exhausted. I’m always rushing, and trying to juggle between work and the family. I can’t find enough hours in a day to do all the things I need to do. I feel like I’m constantly on edge because I’m under so much time pressure.” Source of photo: There is such a term called “Hurry Sickness” first coined by San Francisco cardiologists, Dr. Meyer Friedman and Dr Ray Rosenman where a person feels chronically short of time so they have a compulsive drive to do more and more in less and less time. Do you find yourself eating fast, walking fast, and constantly rushing to get to appointments, or asking your kids to hurry up because you’re running late? Do you tap your fingers impatiently in traffic or get agitated when the car in front of you is driving too slowly? Do you feel a sense of anxiety or urgency as if you’re running against the clock? Be aware and slow down if any of this resembles your life because you might be falling into the vicious, never-ending cycle of what has been called the “hurry sickness” Photo courtesy of Just recently, I was speaking to a young mother who said she had a big wake up call after rushing her three year old while he was walking back home, “Walk faster! You know Mummy’s in a hurry. Come on!” While she was walking ahead of her child, he tripped and grazed himself on the pavement while trying to keep up with her. She was too busy returning urgent emails to notice but when she heard him crying, she rushed back to him, and he said helplessly, “Mummy, I can’t go any faster! Stop!” She carried him all the way back home in guilt, vowing that she would not rush her child like that again. Her “Hurry sickness” was affecting everyone around her from her colleagues at work who would become jumpy when she arrived, because that was the energy she brought into the office, to her own child who was unable to appreciate nature or the park he was walking through because his mother was always rushing him past it. This time urgency can be almost detrimental in the workforce, "Working at breakneck speed for extended periods of time does not enhance productivity; it reduces it," says Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap!’ Not to mention, you end up making more mistakes when you are in a rush because you don’t have the luxury of time to comb through all the details, or to really focus on doing a great job. It’s also important not to make any drastic decisions when you’re tired, or lacking sleep from all that rushing. Former US President Bill Clinton said, “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.” (Source: New York Times) ‘Hurry sickness’ or time urgency came about when cardiologists, Dr. Meyer Friedman and Dr Ray Rosenman were researching causes of heart disease linked to “Type A personalities” who are typically overachiever types who were ambitious, competitive, aggressive and impatient to reach their goals. Type A personalities were always overwhelmed with urgency, tending to schedule appointments too closely together and became easily frustrated when faced with delays and unproductive time (Source: Psychology Today) Their research indicated that Type A personalities would run a higher risk of heart disease and high blood pressure than type Bs, and that men with the strongest Type A scores were more likely to have heart attacks within five years (Source: Heart Disease Health Centre at WebMD). It’s a disturbing thought that urban society admires such ambitious, driven individuals but it comes with a price because they could be racing to an early grave. One of the most important things you can do to combat the “Hurry Sickness” is to wake up earlier. It takes discipline but it’s totally worth it because it sets the mood for the rest of the day. Early risers have an edge because they wake up with less stress and have the luxury of starting their day with a leisurely breakfast, or early morning exercise to wake up properly rather than rushing straight to work. Another critical tool to train the mind to focus and slow down the pace of its frantic thoughts is to meditate. It’s all about awareness so catch yourself if you are rushing too much because your stress levels will slow down, when you do too.
February 14, 2015

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About Jojo Struys

Jojo Struys is an accomplished speaker, author, regional TV host and HRDF accredited corporate trainer. She is very passionate about wellness and is currently the wellbeing brand advocate for the Westin Hotels, Asia Pacific.

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