Hurry Sickness

Dr. Linda Friedland Stress

There seems to be new global epidemic. As if stress is not enough to aggravate disease, we now have a massive outbreak of Hurry Sickness. Although it is a new 'epidemic', the term Hurry Sickness was coined over 40 years ago by a cardiologist who noticed that all his heart disease patients were rushed. Today we all seem to be rushing. We convince ourselves that the hurrying is to save time. What do we do with the time saved? We fill it with more hurrying! It has also become a status symbol. In the past, having a lot a free time indicated that you were a person of wealth and standing, today it is quite the opposite. The more hurried you are, the more successful you must be. The insanity of this ‘Hurry sickness’ is that we are willing to pay with heart attacks, broken marriages, crazy lifestyles and possible premature death for apparent success.

Just as Pavlov's dog learned to salivate inappropriately, we have learned to hurry inappropriately. Our sense of urgency is set off not by a real need to act quickly, but through learned cues. Our 'bells' have become the watch, the alarm, the e-mails, the blackberry and the hundreds of self-inflicted expectations that we build into our daily routine. The speed of technology and the need to respond instantly across all times zones has contributed significantly to this scourge. “The subliminal message from the clock is that time is running out; life is winding down," says Dr. Larry Dossey in his book, Space, Time & Medicine. He explains that, "The perceptions of passing time that we observe from our external clocks cause our internal clocks to run faster.” Our brains and our bodies are really not hard-wired to withstand the onslaught of this pace. Hurry sickness then is expressed as heart disease, burnout and depression.

Dr Robert Holden, author of ‘Success Intelligence' explains that, "we propel ourselves so fast that we often exceed the speed limit of intelligence and common sense. We speed ahead on fast-forward and the danger is that we leave ourselves behind.”

In the drive to become more successful, we may realise (if we survive long enough) that, in the rush, we never quite had the time to make life worthwhile. If we can stop and recognise our own Hurry Sickness, we can indeed choose to temper this compulsive life style which will go a long way to enhancing our health and quality of life.

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