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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

Speed Kills (And Not Just Meth)

Decades ago, there was a fascinating study. The researchers staged an event to see how people would react.

It took place in a busy urban environment like ours. A woman pretended to be in distress. It was obvious that she needed help. Then the researchers waited to see how people responded.

Some stopped to help. But, sadly, most people walked on. The researchers then interviewed people to ask why they didn't stop.

Most had the same answer: "I was in a rush." The researchers concluded that speed causes so much stress that it reduces our natural instincts to help.

It's been about 30 years since that study. Of course, the speed in our lives has only accelerated. Back then there weren't phones to beep at us; there wasn't as much traffic and overcrowding and just plain urban stress.

Today people race to their jobs, then to pick up children, then throw some dinner on the table. There is laundry, emails, food shopping, and the countless other demands of modern day life.

What is the effect of speed on a society? We've seen from the above study that there can be less altruism and, consequently, more social alienation and loneliness. And many car accidents, as well as falls, may be caused by people living a very fast paced life.

What about you? Do you leave a speedy life? Does it make you feel happier or more stressed?

Speed may not be an issue for you. It may just fit your personality and help you remain motivated. But living at a high speed may be a problem for some people.

For instance, there can be physical problems, such as muscle tension or high blood pressure. You may have interpersonal issues with friends, if they feel hurt about a hurried phone call or text or no contact at all.

You may not have time to "smell the roses," to sit and relax and just enjoy your life. If you have children, they may be stressed by all of the running around.

Check in with yourself. Is the pace of your life causing you (or others) distress? Is this something that you want to change?

If so, you can make changes at this very moment by simply breathing, looking around you, opening the door for a stranger, contacting a friend going through a hard time. And, as the saying goes, the journey of a l,000 miles starts with one (slow) step.

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