Is Feeling The Need To Hurry All The Time A Symptom Of Anxiety?

Holistic Psychologist By Nicole Lippman-Barile, Ph.D
Holistic Psychologist
Nicole Lippman-Barile, Ph.D, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and nutritional therapy practitioner. She received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Hofstra University. As a holistic psychologist she integrates nutritional therapy as part of psychotherapy, using food and holistic lifestyle practices as medicine to support mental health and wellness.
Anxious woman: Experts on Call

This year has been one of the most challenging years in modern history, one that has taken a toll on our mental and physical health. To help you through it, we launched Experts On Call, a new series in which top-tier health and well-being experts answer your questions—however big or small—to help you find solutions, put together a game plan, and make each day a little bit easier. Don't forget, you can ask questions anytime, and we'll do our best to find the right expert to point you in the right direction. Without further ado, here's another edition of the series with a question from a reader.

Is feeling like I need to hurry all the time a symptom of anxiety?

—Anonymous

A sense of urgency is a fairly common symptom in people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The disorder is characterized by many kinds of worries, in many kinds of contexts. In order to be diagnosed with GAD, a person should have a cluster of symptoms, and the feelings would have to impair functioning to a certain extent. 

If the feeling exists on its own, it may not be related to GAD. It could just be an anxiousness centered around where you're going or trying to avoid a certain consequence of being late. 

To get to the root of this feeling and help manage it, it's important to follow the trail. In other words, figure out when and where you start to feel that sense of urgency. 

Is it on your way to work, going into the grocery store, meeting up with one of your family members, etc.? Once you pinpoint the moment you start to feel anxious and rushed, challenge your thought process. 

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How to challenge your thought process. 

If you're worried about not getting somewhere on time, ask yourself what the consequence of showing up late would be. Then assess whether it's true. In other words, is this consequence set by someone else or an expectation you're creating for yourself?

Go through these questions: If you can't get it done now, could you do it later? How much of it is a priority for you? What's the worst thing that could happen if you don't get somewhere on time? 

When we are anxious in the moment, we tend to think catastrophically and brace for the worst possible outcome. We're not really looking at the rational perspective. By challenging yourself, you'll likely realize that whatever your biggest fear was, it won't come true. If it does come true, trust that you'll have the tools to handle it. 

Tools to manage anxiety.

If your anxiety and the need to hurry is persistent, there are plenty of tools that may help you manage them.

First and foremost, get plenty of sleep. People tend to downplay how important sleep is, but we are much more emotionally and psychologically vulnerable when we don't get enough. A healthy diet full of fiber and protein is also important. Irregular blood sugar patterns throughout the day can have an effect on mood and anxiety levels. Lastly, physical activity is a critical component of mental health. Exercise has a long-term effect in helping us feel less anxious—sometimes all it takes is a 15-minute walk will help you reclaim time in your day.

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