“Frantic, rushed, crazy busy,” are words that roll off my patients’ tongues when I ask them how they are. I can relate all too well. People who say they feel pressed for time experience more stress and anxiety. It goes the other way too. People who feel stressed and anxious also feel more pressed for time.
According to a study, how we think about goals shapes our perception of time. When we think about goals as in conflict with one another we experience more stress and heightened time pressure. Technology may explain why this seems worse now more than ever:
Technological advances that allow people to do lots of things at once may exacerbate the feeling of goal conflict…On our phones, we can flip or toggle back and forth between dealing with family members and friends and colleagues, making appointments for our pets, making appointments for our kids.
In other words, the gadgets we use to save us time end up making us feel even more pressed for more time because they aggravate this sense of conflict. We feel pulled in a hundred directions at once.
Einstein famously said:
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
But these days everything does seem to happen at once. Everything seems urgent all the time.
The good news is that when we feel less conflicted, we restore our sense of time.
A study suggests two simple strategies to reduce the pressure of competing goals:
1. Taking slow deep breaths
2. Reframing anxiety as excitement
Doing things for others and meditation can also reduce what Bob Roth (vice president of the transcendental meditation David Lynch Foundation) calls the “Gotta mind” i.e. “I gotta do this, I gotta do that, I gotta go there, I gotta…etc…”
We tend to blame our busy lives but the hurry may be in our heads. Try one of these strategies to slow down. The only thing you have to lose is time.