Slow Down – it’s good for your health

Are you trying to beat the clock? © GLOW IMAGES

Are you trying to beat the clock?
© GLOW IMAGES

Slow Down!  Going faster is tempting disaster,” according to Susan Biali, M.D.   She continues, “A fast-paced life isn’t worth the trouble it can cause.”  Not only is rushing around tempting disaster – think unnecessary accidents, for example – but it is also bad for your everyday health.  According to psychologyNet.org, “People who are overly time-oriented have a greater risk of cardiovascular and other health problems”  and it continues, “time-urgency is not conducive to effective stress mastery, since one is constantly keeping one’s body at high anxiety and stress levels.”

“Individuals who perceive life in a time-urgent way tend to engage in self-defeating behaviors and thoughts such as being excessively worried about schedules, keeping overly tight deadlines, rushing when rushing is not necessary, doing several activities at the same time, and not taking the time to really enjoy work or play.” This behavior has been labeled “hurry sickness” by psychologists and physicians.

“This need for speed can diminish the quality of our lives and put a negative spin on patience, discernment, depth, joy, and dialogue.” states Kirk Byron Jones in his book, Hurry: Spiritual Strategies for Slowing Down.  He teaches ethics and pastoral ministry at Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.  He also suggests we may be “running away from aches and fears, from ourselves, and from God.”

I used to rush to get from one errand to another whether I needed to or not. Fear was definitely a motivating factor in my hurriedness.  I was afraid to be late and thought others would think ill of me if I was. I was also thinking about what was next (living in the future) rather than what I was doing at the moment (acting in the present and enjoying the now).  Consequently, I seemed to be always slipping down steps or stumbling off a curb. Tripping over, falling down, or running into something.

When I would arrive home, my husband would routinely come out to look at the car to see if there were any new scrapes or dents.  I simply did not pay attention to what was going on around me.  At one point, I was in such a rush to get somewhere that I was weaving in and out of traffic and cut in front of a police car — almost daring him to stop me — which he did, and I did receive a “reckless” driving ticket. One would have thought this would have warned me.

But, it took a dramatic “wake up call” for me to really get it.  I stumbled off a curb barely missing an oncoming car.  I was frightened and trembling.  It was time to slo-o-o-ow down.

Talk to yourself, recommends MJ Ryan, author of, the Power of Patience.  “Patience helps us create space between impulse and action…Plus, the more we keep the fight-or-flight stress response off, the fewer stress-related health issues we will likely suffer from.”

This is exactly what I did.  It took real discipline, initially, to keep myself in the moment, I often reminded myself: “I am walking down the stairs.”  Or, “I am stepping off a curb.”  Or, “I am driving and turning left.”  Or, “I am in not in a hurry to park the car so that I can make my next appointment on time.”

On top of that, a well-known Psalm came to thought which says we will be made to “lie down in green pastures” and led “beside the still waters.” (1) This Psalm encouraged me to take the time to acknowledge the freshness and beauty of my surroundings. And, I took to heart the promise that I would be led in a peaceful way from one activity to another, not rushing and stumbling into things to the point where my physical health would be put in jeopardy.

At times I still find myself tempted to hurry along.  But then, I make myself stop, look around, and find something interesting to see.  I quietly listen and then step by step proceed to my destination. I am learning to live a slower, higher quality life and loving it.

 1) Holy Bible, Psalms 23:2 

Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, Christian Science, science, religion, the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.  She and her husband enjoy hiking, especially with Callie, a Blue Heeler, and riding motorcycles. 

Other research material:

www.amandagulino.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/why-rushing-is-bad-for-your-health/

www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-time-cure/201302/hurry-sickness

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachel-macy-stafford/the-day-i-stopped-saying-hurry-up_b_3624798.html