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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

Are You Speeding through Life?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018

A number of years ago, I watched one of those 60 Minute-type programs. A reporter had staged a "crisis" event in downtown Manhattan, where someone needed help. The show then filmed the reactions of passersby to see who would and would not stop to help.

Unfortunately, most people walked right by the person in crisis. Then the reporter would go up to passersby who didn't stop and ask them why they didn't. The major reason people cited was being in a rush.

I remember being struck by the episode. Clearly, there was an important connection between being in a rush and not being able or willing to help someone in need.

As the show demonstrated, there are societal consequences of living our lives on high speed. And there are personal ramifications as well.

Dr. Stephanie Brown, an addiction specialist, wrote about this in her book, Speed. She wasn't talking about the effects of the drug, speed, but of living one's life in a speedy way.

Working with Type A, driven clients who raced from one thing to another, she found that clients had elevated levels of anxiety, feelings of disconnection, and even possible physical symptoms from living on "speed," that is, adrenaline.

Do you also race from one thing to another? If so, what do you think may be the consequences for your life?

In our fast-paced world, most of us are moving faster than perhaps we should be. And as Stephanie Brown found, the impact may be enormous: dissatisfying connections with others; sleep problems; difficulty with frustration or boredom; and/or using drugs and alcohol to calm down and unwind after living on adrenaline all day.

If you feel that you are speeding through life, the cure may be fairly simple. As the expression goes, take time to smell the roses. Perhaps put away your phone, and just take a slow walk (not speed racing!) Look around your world -- at the flowers, greenery, people, birds.

Try to tune in to the world around you. Take some deep breaths and, perhaps, smile at friendly-appearing people. And you don't have to just relax when you are outside. You can always take a few moments in your home to take some deep breaths, listen to relaxing music, and perhaps light candles or take a warm bath.

Most of us live busy lives. That is probably not going to change any time soon -- nor may we want it to change. But taking some time ever so often to slow down and enjoy the present may be key to lasting physical and emotional well-being.

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