What is hurry sickness, and why are you hearing about it?
Are you constantly rushing, feeling an urgency to complete tasks, frustrated at any impediment? Always multitasking, unable to sit down or relax? Then you may suffer from hurry sickness.
Hurry sickness is a behaviour pattern characterised by constant panic and rush, even when it’s unnecessary to be moving so fast. It isn’t a diagnosable condition as such; the term was coined by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman and made popular in their 1974 book Type A Behaviour and Your Heart.
While there is overlap with neurodivergent conditions, hurry sickness isn’t a symptom of a particular diagnosis. (Although the feeling of being on the go, as if driven by an internal motor, is familiar to me as an adult with ADHD.)
Why are more people feeling the need to rush?
Blame the pace of modern life. We’re permanently switched on, a world of information and communication at our fingertips.
This can lead to overwhelm, as we struggle to switch off and find time for relaxation. We all know the temptation to check our emails or social media first thing in the morning, last thing at night, even when we’re on the loo. Not allowing ourselves a moment of peace when it feels like there’s always something to do.
Frankly, it’s exhausting.
What are the negative impacts of hurry sickness?
It can have a big impact on your health. The chronic stress and anxiety of living in a perpetually rushed state, unable to relax, can weaken your immune system, affecting your energy levels and sleep. Neglecting self-care is common.
The drive to achieve more and more can pull focus from your relationships, meaning you neglect them. Feeling that we’re moving at a different pace to our significant others leads to frustration, arguments, even breakups.
Living in the constant state of stress caused by hurry sickness can lead to burnout.
Can you use it to your advantage?
If you take away some positives of this behaviour pattern while learning to slow down, you could make it work for you.
The trick is to harness your drive without going into overdrive. For which you need…
Tips to manage and overcome hurry sickness
- Slow down – tricky when you’re always rushing, but start small. Rather than trying to remember and complete every task at hand at all times, limit yourself to a realistic goal. Your short-term achievements can add up to time-managed more efficiently.
- Breathing exercises – there are many breathing techniques you can try to allow you to find short term relief and see your goals, tasks and achievements with clarity.
- Prioritise properly – not every task should have equal weight on your to-do list. Prioritise tasks that are time-sensitive or will take extra effort.
- Take breaks – as you work through your to-do list, take time for yourself between tasks.
- Seek additional help – this could mean asking for help or advice at work about setting realistic boundaries, making sure you don’t take on too much, but also personal long term help from a therapist.