Mind & Body

Break Free from "Hurry Disease"

Impatience and high-speed multitasking can lead to hypertension and heart disease. Here are 7 slow-down strategies.

Break Free from "Hurry Disease"
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I USED TO SUFFER FROM "OTIS-ITIS," that impatient, revved-up state of mind that leads us to keep pushing a lighted elevator button in a futile attempt to speed the car's arrival. Like many people in our "faster is better" culture, I'd gobble takeout while driving, fidget and fume in the checkout line, and become exasperated if my computer download took more than mere seconds.

Time urgency impatience is what physicians call this chronic sense of pressure, and it's become an epidemic among multitasking Americans. We log more hours at work than citizens of any other industrialized nation, and 40 percent of us drink three or more caffeinated beverages a day just to keep up the pace. That helps explain why more than half our adult population experience significant stress regularly and get less than the eight hours of sleep needed for good health and optimum performance.

"We have a deeply neurotic and dysfunctional relationship with time," says Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed. "Benjamin Franklin said 'time is money,' and we don't want it wasted or stolen. We put quantity ahead of quality and internalize an inner psychology of speed that values saving time and maximizing efficiency."

It's our health that pays the price. Time urgency impatience has been associated with a nearly twofold increase in hypertension, and it's one of the traits that make Type A's twice as likely as mellower Type B's to develop heart disease. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 42 percent of young adults suffer from potentially risky levels of TUI, with high levels more common among women and Caucasians. "My guess is that TUI is on the rise," says study author Lijing L. Yan, Ph.D., M.P.H.