My clients love to diagnose themselves as do most of us. For a funny treatise on this, please read this article:
Recently, a client of mine self-diagnosed herself with something she called, “Hurry Sickness”. Just when I thought I’d heard them all- BAM! I was sideswiped with a new ‘mental disorder’ to grapple with. I received this self-diagnosis in an email and its sender wanted to talk about it in an upcoming therapy session. So like any good therapist, I decided to prepare myself with research by Googling “Hurry Sickness”.
And by the end of researching this topic satisfactorily, I was completely convinced, that I too, suffer from Hurry Sickness!
Note: I have never claimed to be less susceptible to self-diagnoses than my clients. However, as these things tend to go, my new label quickly wore off and I forgot about it until I went to write this article. I think it’s an interesting concept however and a warning that we need to consciously slow down and smell the proverbial roses. Or in current parlance, we can learn to become mindful. I have written at length about how to become more mindful in your own life. Check these articles out here.
The following comes from an article entitled, Hurry Sickness: 10 Ways to Overcome Constant Panic and Rush:
What Is Hurry Sickness?
Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman coined the term “hurry sickness” after noticing that many of their patients suffered from a “harrying sense of time urgency.” They defined hurry sickness as “a continuous struggle and unremitting attempt to accomplish or achieve more and more things or participate in more and more events in less and less time.”
People with hurry sickness think fast, talk fast, and act fast. They multitask and rush against the clock, feeling pressured to get things done and getting flustered by any sign of a problem.
What Causes Hurry Sickness?
You’ll never find a hurry-sick person with an empty diary. Hurry-sick people are conscientious and work hard, but they struggle to acknowledge the limits of what they can take on. Consequently, they habitually commit to more than they have time for.
Also, our 24/7 state of connectedness means that we increasingly suffer from FOMO – fear of missing out – so we’re reluctant to disconnect and slow down. We fret that a deal might fall through if we don’t reply to an enquiry quickly. We worry about how it might look to take time off or to say no to a task. This need to stay available means that hurry-sick people remain constantly “switched on.”
Once we’ve begun this cycle of panic, it’s easy to get used to it, and even to accept it, even though it damages us.
What Are the Consequences of Hurry Sickness?
Being busy is usually seen as a virtue. But when busyness tips over into hurry sickness, the consequences can be severe. You lose the ability to stop and think, and you become less effective. Errors creep into your work, you lose sight of the “big picture,” and the quality of your work starts to dip.
Hurry sickness increases your body’s output of the hormone cortisol, which can cause long-term health problems, such as depression and burnout. It can affect your personal relationships, too. “Go-fast” working habits travel home with you, and they can make it difficult to give your best to friends and family. Your mind stays locked in a state of overstimulation, making you tired, anxious, and prone to irritability, but unable to relax.
10 Ways to Overcome Hurry Sickness
Although it can be difficult to find a way out of the chaos of hurry sickness, it is possible. Make it your goal to work smarter – not harder – by finding strategies that will create lasting change.
Let’s look at 10 strategies that you can use to overcome hurry sickness, which we’ve grouped into action-oriented, acceptance-oriented and emotion-oriented:
These approaches are useful when you’re free to take action to change the situation.
1. Question why you’re being asked to do something. If someone told you to jump, what would you say? “How high?” or “Why?” Your hurry sickness might be due to saying yes to people’s requests too often, and taking on too much. It’s important to question the rationale behind the demands made of you, so that you can politely say no to tasks that fall outside your job description, which other people are better qualified to do, or which you don’t have time for. You’ll then have space to do a better job of the things that really matter.
2. Be more assertive about what you take on. If you think your hurriedness is caused by other people not doing their jobs properly, let them know, but in a positive way. Give them clear feedback and clarify who’s responsible for what tasks. This should help you to avoid taking on work that should be delegated to others.
3. Stop multitasking. The danger of juggling multiple tasks is that you spread yourself too thinly. Either you won’t work to the best of your ability, or you won’t ever complete anything. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. You’ll do a better job and be in less of a rush.
4. Prioritize your workload. Prioritization is a crucial survival skill for getting through pressured times. It brings order to chaos, creates calmness and space, and reduces stress. Plan an order of work. Focus on the essential, and set aside – or quietly drop – the trivial.
5. Work on your time-management skills. There are only ever 24 hours in a day. Good time management allows you to put them to the smartest possible use by getting more done in less time. Switch your focus from activities to results, from hurriedness to effectiveness, and give dedicated, uninterrupted time to the tasks that matter. You can then target your attention where it’s needed most.
These approaches apply when you have no power to change the situation.
6. Slow down. Working flat out and struggling to relax isn’t good for you or your work. We all need time to stop and think, to regain our perspective and take stock of our tasks. Simply taking regular breaks, even just to “stretch your legs,” can help you to slow down and collect your thoughts. Toffler’s Stability Zones can calm your pace, while relaxation techniques can help you to find peace amid chaos. Accepting only light projects for a while can also help you to “depressurize” and to take things more easily. When the time comes to increase your workload again, you’ll be in a better position to deal with it effectively and calmly.
7. Stop and take a break. We mean it! Set your out-of-office notifications, ditch the laptop, and take a vacation. And if you’re an active type rather than a beach dweller, don’t cram too much into your itinerary! Switching off can be tough when you’re used to being “on the go,” but the benefits of doing so can be immense. A week or two of fun and relaxation will reduce your anxiety and allow you to reassess your priorities.
8. Seek support. Your manager, your colleagues and your family can all be great sources of support. Working with a strong support base and finding allieswithin it is a great way to share concerns and responsibilities, and to stop “busyness” becoming “hurriedness.”
This category of approaches is useful when the stress you’re experiencing comes more from the way that you perceive a situation than the situation itself.
9. Stay positive. It’s easy to get into a cycle of negative thinking when you’re overloaded and rushed. Working with a positive outlook can help you to feel equal to the challenges that face you, and motivated to tackle them. Set realistic expectations, and try using affirmations, cognitive restructuring, and success programming to boost your positivity.
10. Improve your self-regulation. Our emotions run high when we’re working against the clock, so managing them is important. Our articles on managing anger, developing patience, and using emotional intelligence can help you to manage your emotions better, so that you feel better able to cope with work calmly and effectively.