Do You Have “Hurry” Sickness?

By Sherry Baker @SherryNewsViews
January 13, 2020

If you’re constantly racing around and multi-tasking, your health and safety may be in danger. You could have “hurry sickness.” Here’s how to get over it.

It’s not unusual in the 21st century to live your life in the fast lane, and that doesn’t only mean driving fast on the highway. It also applies to having almost every minute of your day, and often your nights, full of tasks you are constantly rushing to complete. Meanwhile, you may feel glued to your cell phone and computer, fearing you’ll somehow get behind on everything from work to social media if you don’t constantly check for emails and updates.

If this sounds familiar, it may be time to ask yourself: Do you have “hurry” sickness?

Writing in Psychology Today, Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo PhD, calls hurry sickness a real and worrisome problem “characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency.”


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Do you have hurry sickness symptoms?

If you chronically feel there is never enough time to accomplish all you want to do, you keep trying to perform tasks faster and faster, and get upset and even angry when you run into a delay or unexpected roadblock in your efforts, you likely have hurry sickness.

Other hurry sickness signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling a continual sense of urgency about getting tasks done quickly
  • Multi-tasking so many different things you end up forgetting one or more of the things you’re juggling
  • Becoming anxious when you feel stuck in line at a store, often moving from one check-out to another one because you always want to save a few minutes
  • Being in such a hurry you make sometimes embarrassing mistakes, like putting on an item of clothing backwards or inside out
  • Feeling you absolutely must drive in the lane where cars are going the fastest or with the least cars.

Hurry sickness can threaten your health

Unfortunately, if the answer to “do you have hurry sickness” is “yes,” you may be putting your health at risk.

Although it’s not an actual physical illness, it is a behavior pattern, according to psychologist Zimbardo. And it can have medical consequences.

People who are constantly in hurry mode and multi-tasking due to a lifestyle that seems to be in over-drive can experience health repercussions in different ways. For example, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) points out chronic stress causes some people to experience primarily digestive symptoms, while others may feel angry much of the time, or have headaches and sleeping difficulties. What’s more, the NIMH notes, chronic stress can lower your resistance to more frequent and severe viral infections.

If you are in a rush, day in and day out, and never truly relax, your body can be in a constant state of hyperarousal. The resulting hormonal and nervous system activation can increase your risk of developing chronic health problems, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Hurry sickness also carries an increased risk from injuries — and even fatalities — from accidents. The National Safety Council (NSC) points out distracted driving and speeding are some of the top causes of deadly car accidents.

Don’t make the potentially fatal mistake of thinking you can drive safely and keep your eyes and mind on the road while conducting business with a hands-free device to save time as you drive to a meeting. You may think you are safely multi-tasking to save time, but research shows your brain is distracted, and you are increasing the odds of an accident, according to the NSC.

In addition, walking quickly on city streets and not paying attention to your surroundings is a primary cause of serious injuries from falls, too.

Bottom line? Find relief from the hurry sickness

The average American checks his or her smartphone about 150 times each day — usually doing it quickly without thinking about it. But instead of this fast, automatic behavior helping with your productivity or life in general, it can have a negative influence on your ability to focus and to have meaningful social interactions, according lan D. Castel, PhD, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Moreover, although speed and efficiency and super-fast technology are lauded in the 21st century, with good reason, learning to purposefully slow down can help you see other’s perspectives and improve communication and productivity, too.

Slowing down can help with your comprehension and appreciation of new ideas and approaches to problems both at work and in your personal life. What’s more, slowing down instead of hurrying through a meal can even help your digestion, keep you from over-eating, and help weight control, Castel points out.

Psychologist Zimbardo and therapist Rosemary K.M. Sword admitted in a Psychology Today column they’ve both suffered from hurry sickness themselves, finding help by consciously slowing down and getting out of the constantly rushing mindset.

Just remember, they advise, everything will get done eventually. Purposefully take time to be still, take calming deep breaths, and do some self-talk, reminding yourself you don’t have to accomplish everything immediately. Learning and practicing meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques regularly can also help break the hurry sickness cycle, according to Zimbardo and Sword.


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January 13, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell