Dear Hurried Mama trying to avoid Hurry Sickness,
I see you rushing through your day, crossing off to-do lists, chugging the coffee, shushing your children away for a second to “gather your thoughts,” running from one activity to the next, and finishing your day feeling empty and unaccomplished. I see you trying to multitask, snacking along the way, feeling rushed and unseen. I see your panic, your fear – your worry, and I’m here to tell you it’s time to break up with Hurry Sickness, and it’s time to find the joy in going slow.
Together, we can do hard things.
A Mama recovering from Hurry Sickness
Photo By: Lacey Irving
Psychology Today defines Hurry Sickness as, “A behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency.” Have you ever felt a sense of urgency with little to no deadlines or pressures in sight? While I cannot recall the first time I felt the need to rush through my days, I know rush and urgency have been the core driving force throughout my days for a long time.
The truth is, I do not have as much on my plate as one would think. While yes, I homeschool (even prior to COVID-19), work from home, have three children, and a husband who works 12-hour shifts, I’ve worked intentionally over the years to clear my schedule in hopes of clearing my mind. I used to be known for being a part of every mom’s group, bible study, the friend who would hand-deliver home cooked meals, and show up to every single baseball practice as the hands on mom, but there was a season in my life when it became very clear to me that too much of a good thing was still too much. I set out to cross things off my schedule and prioritize my time for what mattered most.
And yet, even with less demands on my schedule, I still felt a sense of urgency in my days.
A few months ago, prior to COVID-19, our church hosted a guest Pastor to share a message with us. He spoke about how to avoid Hurry Sickness, and I leaned into his sermon.
His message lit a fire within my soul to slow down and pause when I’m feeling rushed or hurried. I cannot continue to let my heart race. I want to breathe the fresh air, sip the hot coffee, water the plants, watch my children play, and notice the freckles on their faces and the pitches and the tones in their voices. I want to walk through life enjoying the scenery rather than racing to my final destination. I want to give my brain a chance to grow and soak up information rather than drown in the day to day. I want to live free of hurry sickness – and I want to help you do the same.
5 Ways to Avoid Hurry Sickness: For Moms
1. Wake up before your family
Recently, I shared how waking up before your children will not only help you set the tone for your day but also create healthy habits of self-care. This step alone allows you to organize your day and prioritize what is most important. During this time you can journal, get dressed, eat a healthy breakfast, and create a to-do list with your top three priorities. Hurry Sickness sets off alarms in your mind and body to worry about what needs to get done and in what time-frame but we all know Hurry Sickness doesn’t offer a clear outlook on the reality of the task at hand. What may feel urgent might actually not be. Take time in the morning to evaluate your to-do list and cross off ALL items that can wait.
2. Find support
Take a moment to look at your core group of friends and family members, and try to think of a person who you can turn to for support when you’re feeling overwhelmed and/or need help making decisions. Sometimes, I find it hard to recognize what tasks are important and which ones can wait, and I turn to my sister and husband to ask for help in deciphering those decisions. Also, if I’m feeling overwhelmed, they are there with open arms to listen and pray for me. I don’t always ask for advice but knowing they are there to listen helps tremendously. Community support will help you realize you’re not alone, and in those moments of reaching out for help, you’re giving yourself a moment to stop, breathe, and refocus.
3. Do not multitask: Choose focused work instead
As moms, we cannot believe the lie that tells us to do it all. The truth is, we can’t, and we’re not supposed to. While there’s a glorious stigma surrounding the term ‘multitask,’ multitasking can lead to complete burn out. Rather than giving something 100% of your focus, multitasking gives each task only a small percentage of your focus and skill, which ultimately ends with mediocre results. The best tip to avoid Hurry Sickness, choose focused work and give your full attention to the task at hand. Yes, this applies to household chores, meal-planning, playing with your children, and if you work from home – work. Tip: Create a block schedule to help you stay focused!
4. Turn off your notifications
“WHAT? But what if I miss something important?!” Yes, these thoughts crossed my mind as well when I first received the advice to turn off my notifications on my phone but the truth is, if it’s important, they’ll find a way to get a hold of you. There’s something about a red dot that says, “This is urgent!” when the truth is, it’s not. If it’s urgent, it would be a phone call, not a text, Facebook message, or DM on Instagram. Do you want to avoid Hurry Sickness? Take charge of your day and set boundaries by turning off notifications and choose a specific time to respond to incoming messages rather than rushing the second they come across your screen.
5. Just stop
In the moments you’re feeling a sense of urgency and rush, just stop. Sometimes when I’m feeling rushed or overwhelmed, I stop in the middle of whatever it is I’m doing, put on my tennis shoes, and take a brisk walk. The fresh air alone helps me regather my thoughts, refresh my mind, and restart my task. Sometimes, I feel rushed without even having a task to do. By stopping, I can ask myself, “What is the next BEST thing I can do in this moment,” take a deep breath, and set out to do just that. Strategically place reminders around your home, your car, and on your phone to just stop. I have signs that say, “Just breathe,” and “Lean in,” placed around my home to remind me it’s okay to go slow and pause for a moment.
In a world where instant gratification and constant hurry is glorified, it’s hard not to fall victim to Hurry Sickness, but with a little extra support and intentional planning, you too can avoid Hurry Sickness and find the joy in going slow. Today, choose to walk, choose to breathe in the fresh air, and choose to simply stop. The world will keep turning but your brain doesn’t need to continually feel dizzy from the commotion. And remember, together, we can do hard things.