How to recognize “hurry sickness” and take back your life

If you feel like you’re constantly on the move and running from one thing to the next, you may have what’s called “hurry sickness.” By definition, hurry sickness is a mixture of anxiety combined with a constant feeling of urgency. Psychology Today adds that it is 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.”

Most of us are busy with work, family, activities, and everyday life, but hurry sickness goes beyond the tiredness and stress that life brings and can cause declining quality in one’s work and home life, plus anxiety, fatigue, and eventually serious health problems.

There are some key indicators you can look out for to determine if you have hurry sickness.

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Constantly scanning for the shortest route

If you find yourself continuously scanning lines in grocery stores or at traffic stops and moving from one line to another because it looks faster, this could be a sign that you suffer from hurry sickness. No one wants to stand in line all day or waste their time, but feeling stress and anxiety when you see one line move faster than the one you’re in or weaving in and out of traffic and speeding to make sure you don’t get stuck at a red light is an overreaction to an everyday inconvenience.

sad irritable woman
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Irritability

We know it’s normal to get agitated occasionally. But excessive, constant irritability to the point of feeling your heart rate increase, palms sweat, or the desire to lash out at someone for the tiniest of inconveniences is a deeper problem. Additionally, if you feel like people are purposely keeping you from things or slowing you down, or if you’ve heard “I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around you” more than a few times, this may be a sign of hurry sickness. It impacts our relationships and can lead to breakups, divorces, or severed friendships.

Restlessness

When you do find time to slow down (which is rare), people who suffer from hurry sickness often can’t switch off. Technology doesn’t make this easy for anyone, but if you have to constantly be doing two things at once (watching TV and folding laundry, for example), or you can’t even manage to sit down through one TV program, this may mean something deeper. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night and mapping out all of the things you must accomplish the next day, this could also be a reason you feel tired all the time.

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Difficulty concentrating

When you rush through all of our daily tasks, eventually, you’re going to make a mistake. If you find yourself having to re-do work or errands because you forgot something, or you deliver a work project that’s not up to your normal standards, it’s time to slow down. This happens because a person isn’t concentrating on the task at hand and is likely thinking about the next five things they need to get done — and missing what’s right in front of them. Not only does this cause more work in the end, but it also takes away any enjoyment you may find in completing a task.

Combatting hurry sickness

It’s not easy for people who suffer from hurry sickness to slow down, so do it slowly. Take a walk and try to be present in the moment instead of thinking about all the things you “should” be doing. Do breath work by taking a deep breath in and letting it out slowly over a count of five. This helps with feeling mindful and being aware of your surroundings. Prioritize relaxation. This will feel in direct opposition to what you believe you should be doing to be a productive member of society, but the truth is, if you don’t practice self-care, get rest, stay hydrated, and exercise, you won’t be good for anyone, including yourself.

We live in a culture of being busy. In fact, it’s often seen as a symbol of sorts that you have a full life and are needed and important. People often make it into a competition of who is busiest, and we wear it as a badge of honor. The problem with this kind of competition is that there are no winners. What’s left is a nation of people feeling rundown, unfulfilled, and more stressed than ever.

If you think you may suffer from hurry sickness, talk to your primary doctor. Ask for things you can do immediately to begin to heal. Or, at a minimum, recognize how you’re feeling in the moment and begin to break the chain of action. It’s not easy to change, but doing so will leave you feeling more relaxed and at peace in all aspects of your life.

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