This Is What Rushing Around 24/7 Does To You
American society is obsessed with speed — not the drug, but the physical need to be moving at a quick pace constantly. Most of us have grown accustomed to a world that praises such momentum, be it through a raise or promotion at work, or a super productive week in the eyes of our friends or family members. But this constant push to do more in a day isn’t doing our minds or bodies any favors. Instead, it’s wearing us down and preventing us from achieving what we set out to accomplish in the first place.
Constantly rushing stresses you out. Speeding through commuter traffic, sliding into your office the moment your workday is supposed to begin and hurrying through your pre-meeting to-do list all give you a stress-based adrenaline rush. Your heart beats faster, your palms sweat and you feel alert. Being alert can feel good, but this part of the fight-or-flight response is only supposed to last so long.
That stress is often contagious. You might think being keyed up on stress hormones makes you more productive, but when you blow in and out of rooms like a human hurricane, what you’re really doing is throwing stress into the environment of those around you. When you’re high strung at work or even at home, you better bet those around you notice and feel a little residual blood pressure increase.
And when it hangs around for too long, it’s also toxic. When your sympathetic nervous system is throttled for too long, your mind and body suffer in big ways. This chronic stress can lead to adrenal failure, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and even memory and concentration impairment. So you end up not being able to accomplish most of what you set out to do in the first place because you burned yourself before you got there.
Rushing leads to multitasking. Instead of prioritizing your lists of things you want to do, you attempt to do them all. You parse out a minute here and a minute there or, worse, try to do several list items at once. Multitasking is the ultimate lack of prioritization and the ultimate productivity killer since the human brain isn’t hardwired to be able to do it successfully.
Multitasking dramatically shortens your attention span. The more you attempt to do all of these different things at once, the less capable you become. You are easily distracted, struggle with memory loss, neglect your relationships, make stupid (sometimes life-threatening) mistakes, and end up even more stressed out because you can’t seem to keep your brain from hopping all over the place.
Shorter attention spans make it harder to notice (and appreciate) the positive things surrounding you. A lack of grounding and focus makes it difficult to stop and appreciate the present moment. Stress yourself out and spread yourself thin, and you’re bound to feel far more cynical and jaded than appreciative and grateful. It’s incredibly easy to take for granted the perks of life you are granted every day when you simply don’t dedicate any time solely to noticing them and saying thank you.
And without focus, you end up accomplishing less than you could if you just slowed down. Isn’t the purpose of speeding up to accomplish more in the same timeframe? Why, yes, it is. Welcome to the full loop of our society’s flawed logic, folks. No other group of people in the world seems to value this warp-speed way of life the way Americans do. Yet, for some reason, we’ve come to treat stress as a motivator rather than using our passions and our purposes first.
So start slowing down on purpose and see what happens. Come on, you already know it sounds far better than the trainwreck I just described.