I spent many days last month framing artwork for a friend’s first exhibition, called “Art, Founded in Fashion”. She didn’t have the money to pay a professional framing shop to do the work, so I volunteered to help her put together some matting and frames that would at least get her a passing grade.
Using the magic of the Internet and some trial and error, I learned to turn somewhat ugly thrift store frames into wall-worthy pieces using wood putty and paint; to cut glass from glass sheets purchased from the hardware store; how annoying (and expensive) cutting mats is; and how to get those tiny little nails into the frames without breaking them (or hammering my fingers).
Throughout the process of framing eight large, 18” by 24” paintings, there were a couple occasions where I needed to take a previously cut, sun-stained and faded mat and make it look new again (ie paint it).One particular mat was covered in linen fabric, which offered nice texture but didn’t hold paint well. I had to give it not one, not two, but three coats of black spray paint before the fabric held the color evenly. By coat #3, I was soooo over that particular mat that I couldn’t get it in the frame fast enough and move on to the next piece.
So that’s what I did: once it was dry to the touch (like, half an hour?), I hurriedly put it in the frame, laid in the backer board, nailed that puppy in place, and sealed it all up with a crisp sheet of framing paper. Ah! Glorious!
Unfortunately, the paint wasn’t actually dry.
Had I waited a full day like I had with other mats I’d painted over, the spray paint would have been delightfully tack-free and would have pressed against the glass beautifully. As it was, I rushed for really no good reason and the whole thing turned out poorly: The still slightly tacky parts of the matting stuck to the glass and made for an unattractive look, like a handful of water had seeped in and was pooling against the otherwise perfect glass.
Now I have to endure disassembling the framed art while praying and hoping the paint doesn’t peel from the mat, letting the mat air out (like I should have in the first place), cleaning the inside of the glass where the paint stuck, and reassembling the entire thing… all on the same day the artwork is supposed to be hung in a gallery for my friend’s first exhibition.
Ugh. Why couldn’t I just wait for the @$#&!*@ paint to dry in the first place?
Why I (We) Rush
I’ll admit it: Sometimes I get impatient and my impatience causes me to rush, like with the framing project described above. I’m impatient because I want to be doing other things while I’m doing that one thing. I want to multitask, but this particular project doesn’t allow for multitasking excellence. It honestly takes all my attention to focus on doing one thing at a time. Gah… I hate that.
But, hey, feeling rushed is great if it means getting somewhere on time or inspiring your inner quick thinker to creatively problem solve or…
Actually, screw that. Rushing is NEVER great. In fact, I hate rushing. Nobody likes it. And those reasons I mentioned are just a few of the many I’ve used (and heard) as an excuse to ignore a real problem I and many people out there have: feeling and being constantly in a hurry.
What is Hurry Sickness?
Psychology is a wondrous and confusing science. I almost wanted to become a psychologist until someone told me that psychology is what all the wackos get degrees in so they can figure out what’s wrong with them (and get paid for it). Count me out!
Even so, psychologists have some really good points, even if they are all a little off their own rockers. They come up with names for all sorts of mental conditions and mindsets. There’s even one for this rushed feeling we all have. They call it Hurry Sickness.
Hurry Sickness is less a physical illness and more a mental one. It’s where someone becomes so used to constantly running around and hurrying through life that what should be an occasional incident of rushing becomes the norm… and they don’t know what to do with themselves when things actually slow down to a normal, healthy pace. Sufferers of Hurry Sickness and Stress Addiction are informally known as Rushaholics. And, yes, it’s a thing.
While this blogger pokes fun at herself for being a rushaholic, it’s easy to see how having this mentality is no fun at all. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself in her shoes too many times and strongly relate as she describes a “normal” day:
“I have perfected the art of multi-tasking and can clean out the dishwasher, fry up bacon in the pan, pat the dog on the head and talk on the phone all at one time. It’s gotten worse since we are no longer bound by the length of a telephone cord.
“I save time by making up my bed while brushing my teeth and watching Good Morning America. I stand in front of the microwave, impatiently tapping my foot while waiting for the popcorn to pop. That’s the longest two minutes of my life.”
Hurry Sickness, if not corrected, will eventually segue into Stress Addiction, which is when the mental condition starts giving way to a physical one. One, particularly, that involves withdrawals.
Stress Addiction is what happens “when cortisol and adrenaline remain present in our system for prolonged periods of time. Rather than tapering off after the perceived threat has passed, chronic stress causes a drippy tap of cortisol and adrenaline to continuously pollute our system. Not only does this wreak havoc on your hair, skin, weight, heart and digestive system, it gets you hooked — and looking for more.”
That’s right: You literally become chemically dependent on adrenaline and cortisol, just like you can to external drugs like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, sugar, meth… pick your poison. Seriously.
And, like many mental illnesses (like depression), Hurry Sickness can materialize as symptoms in the physical body, symptoms like weight gain, high blood pressure, headaches, clumsiness, even brain damage… all those things associated with chronic stress.
No Laughing Matter: A Real Addiction with Real Consequences
Some people like to tease about mental addictions and play them off as if this “sissy generation” is making up ailments to get attention. That if it isn’t something that has been outlawed or questioned by the government or lobbyists – like meth, cocaine, or even cigarettes – then it’s a fake illness.
Look, I’m all about manning up and taking responsibility for our actions and behaviors and not being whiny pains-in-the-rear about our every paper cut, but stress addiction isn’t that. It’s a REAL problem, and one that a great portion of society today acknowledges.
Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of The Ecstasy of Surrender states in this article that
“We [have] become adrenaline junkies, which leads to workaholism…
“At the root of the addiction…is a reluctance to deal with ourselves on a deeper, more personal level. … people will do almost anything to avoid themselves. In a July 2014 study, participants found it unpleasant to be left alone with their thoughts for six to 15 minutes, and some even began self-administering electric shocks to escape the introspection.
“If we’re dancing as fast as we can, then we don’t have to think or get immersed in what’s not being satisfied in our lives … We’re running away from our own unhappiness.”
Workaholism. Another serious topic I’ve written about HERE.
Is It Really “Addiction”?
A couple of things define addiction.
The first and simplest one to understand is that the addict experiences withdrawal symptoms when the addictive substance is removed from their system.
Stress addition happens often with high performing athletes, who get a “high” from working out and being constantly on the move. Those addicted to stress “have a hard time with ‘down time’”. Athletes who get their adrenaline and cortisone high from exercise “are going to crave training to the point of feeling ‘not good’ during periods of extended recovery. This effect becomes more pronounced the higher the training status of the athlete. (Crossman et al., 1987 ) In fact, the former U.S.S.R. was so well aware of this phenomenon that they planned a specific ‘de-tox’ detraining protocol for their high performance athletes after retiring as they transitioned back to normal life.” Athletes who don’t transition well may quit sports and turn to something else for a high, like gambling (or other high-risk activities) or substance abuse.
Read this sobering quote from Distance Running by Robert Lyden, who is an advisor to Olympic athletes and an expert on sports psychology:
“When athletes clearly know better but cannot bring themselves to reduce their training, they threaten to become arousal addicts. Arousal addicts need their daily runner’s high (or ‘fix’) to feel good about themselves, which actually is the physical and mental state of not feeling bad due to the biochemistry of arousal. They are no longer in pursuit of excellence but rather in need of counseling and professional help. The coach might hear rationalizations from an athlete such as: “Coach, I need to train harder to improve…I don’t need or want to take (recovery) time off.”
However, the grim reality is that the coach is listening to a running junkie pleading for his or her next fix.”
Athletes get their stress high from working out, but normal (non-athletic) people get it from other sources: from working too much, from staying constantly busy, from feeling overloaded, etc. And when they stop working too much, aren’t busy, or take a break, they actually FEEL BAD.
So, is that withdrawal? Yes, it is.
The second and more obscure sign of addiction is that the addict – at least in the beginning before they realize they have a dangerous problem – may boast about their poor behavior. Sometimes this is referred to as denial, where the addict minimizes the problem by making light of it.
Like drunks and druggies, rushaholics love to give themselves the thumbs up for being in a crazy-busy hurry all the time despite how their lifestyle degrades their overall happiness, relationships, and careers.
Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says this about rushaholics and stress addicts:
“We’re in the midst of a bubble; one so vast that to be alive today in the developed world is to be affected, or infected, by it. It’s the bubble of bubbles: it not only mirrors the previous bubbles…, it undergirds them all. I call it “The More Bubble.”
“The nature of bubbles is that some asset is absurdly overvalued until—eventually—the bubble bursts, and we’re left scratching our heads wondering why we were so irrationally exuberant in the first place. The asset we’re overvaluing now is the notion of doing it all, having it all, achieving it all; what Jim Collins calls “the undisciplined pursuit of more.””
So, in light of Greg’s observation… what’s so great about rushing around again?
That answer: NOTHING. It sucks, and we all know it.
Let the Bubble Burst!
So the next time you feel yourself running around like a proud hen (or rooster), just remember you’re in this strange hamster-wheel kind of social bubble and you DO have the power to burst it and get out before it ends up suffocating you.
I know that I, personally, could use some fresh air.