How can we stop feeling rushed in our everyday life?
Even as a young person I feel like I’m constantly running out of time. A new thing to achieve comes up in my mind every few months, and even if I’m doing something I enjoy, I’m already thinking about the next thing. How do you cope with it?
Hurry sickness is a phenomenon I learned about recently. It’s a loaded topic but also the possible root of why I historically struggle to slow down in my everyday life. For example, think about a day when you rushed into work—having navigated through heavy traffic—and opened your email only to find so many notifications and messages that you don’t know where to start. And there was still no letup when you got home. You had to juggle cooking a meal, caring for the kids or doing some housework, and getting your things ready for the next day. When do you switch off?
You finally get to bed—but your mind is still racing. Does this frantic sense of being “always-on” sound healthy? Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman coined the term “hurry sickness” after they found many of their patients suffering from a “harrying sense of urgency”. It’s seen 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.”
I think being busy is a virtue for a lot of people. But busyness can easily tip over into hurry sickness. That happens quite easily. And the consequences can be severe: you lose the ability to stop and think, and you become less effective. Your efficiency drops, errors creep into your work, you lose sight of the “big picture”, and your quality starts to dip.
For most of us, it’s a story of trying things that are supposed to make life easier—when actually, it just makes everything worse. Things become overstimulating and fast track you to higher cortisol levels and health problems. “Go-fast” working habits travel with you to work and through your home, and I’ve learned how difficult it then can be to give your best to your friends and family—not least to yourself.
So the big question. How can we stop feeling rushed?
Say “Stop” when things get overwhelming
How you talk to yourself makes a huge difference to the way you treat yourself. Saying “Stop” or “Stay” will help bring you back to the present moment. It can be very effective for overthinkers. Counsellors say that when negative thoughts intrude, stop and focus on what you’re currently seeing, smelling or feeling. Meditation is like training a puppy; your mind will wander and alert you to things that aren’t a danger. You just have to pick the puppy up and bring it back over and over again until it learns to stay and follow your lead.
“To do two things at once is to do neither”. Multitasking might feel productive, but it can create a build-up of strain. To train your mind to be more present is to stop multitasking and be where you are. So when you eat, just eat. Don’t watch or read something. When you fold laundry, don’t have music on. It might sound counterproductive, but that rushing feeling is playing a trick on your mind because it just doesn’t know how to slow down.
Pay attention to small things
If you’re taking a walk, pay attention to how your feet feel or your hips as you move. If you anchor your mind on that sensation, you’ll notice when you drift off into thought instead of being present. And when you notice that you’ve drifted, that’s great—now you’re aware again. So try to refocus and keep practising. It’s all about training your mind with different anchors and scenarios in order to keep bringing yourself back to the present moment.
Do activities that slow you down
One of the reasons I love writing and cycling is it keeps me in the present moment. I can’t drift off on the road or go on autopilot when writing this email. The beauty is in our ability to focus. And in doing so, I’ve changed my perspective about how fast I should do certain tasks.
Prioritise your time and mental health
Not caring what other people think is euphoric. It’s like a release that gives you the time and space to focus on dedicated ‘me time’ and it puts you first.
Ultimately, learning not to rush in life is a practice of lowering your expectations and changing your perspective when needed. This gives you more time to do just about everything. And once your mindset is better guided by this feeling, you’ll find yourself able to slow down time—as if by magic.
What I’ve Learned
A few lessons I’ve learned recently.
Focus less on what truly doesn’t matter
People are starting to realise that working hard doesn’t mean hustling until you’ve burned all your matches. It’s about making your hours as productive as possible so you have fewer of them. Doing less, better. We’re all trying to be busier, but most people spend their time on the things that aren’t difficult. Instead, choose better work over busywork.
The link between great thinking and great walking
Walking is an incredibly simple act, and yet it’s so powerful at unlocking creative thoughts, reframing your mindset, and improving your viewpoints. Whenever you need a break or time to make an important decision, go for a walk.
Anna Cordrea-Rado wrote about defining our inability to see our own success. It sits at the intersection of burnout, imposter syndrome, and anxiety, and reveals our ambition’s alter ego. Most people live to feel productive but never savour any success encountered along the way—or they feel guilty for it. I know this feeling, but to fix it is to look at what our afflictions are telling us rather than trying to eradicate them. The article she wrote is a great deep dive into it.
What’s on My Mind
I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my new website and it makes me excited to work on something like this. My dream for a while has been to have a hub for my work while using Self-mastery and Health Mastery as outlets for deep dives into my useful topics. And I can’t wait to create this for the people that need it.
A Question for You
What three habits could you prioritise next week that would make it a success?
Thanks for reading. Until next week.