Fast food, quick cash online, rush hour, speedy service, same day delivery, ready-made, instant gratification, done-while-you-wait…Have you noticed how many aspects of our modern life in the fast lane lifestyle are concerned with speed and rushing as fast as possible from A to B?

What we will discuss in this article:
  • Changing attitudes to time
  • Why modern people are always on the go
  • The ‘magic’ solution of multi-tasking
  • The realities of modern life
  • Slowing down & changing your attitude to time
  • Detrimental effects of life in the fast lane :
    1. health
    2. our partners/family
    3. sleep patterns
    4. exercise & hobbies

Living Life in the Fast Lane

Research by the British psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman has shown that the overall pace of life has increased by 10% overall since the 1990s. How and why has this change in tempo come about?

Busy Lifestyle – Was It Always Like This?

In the past, agrarian communities had a very different relationship with time than we have nowadays. Their working day was set by the rhythms of nature; without the benefit of powerful artificial light they used to work from sunrise to sunset and then sleep. Their working year was also closely linked to the natural cycles of nature. Spring to autumn would be the busiest times of the year but winter was the time they spent close to home because outside work would be difficult and often unnecessary.

By contrast, we now feel that we have to spend every single moment of our time being busy. Although we have many labour-saving devices, we don’t take advantage of the time saved to enjoy our leisure but instead fill up the extra hours with more chores. It’s almost as if just sitting and watching the world go by makes us feel guilty. We need to be constantly on the go. What’s the reason for this non-stop activity?

Modern Hectic Lifestyles

There’s no doubt that our attitude towards our work has changed. Up until the 1970s Britons tended to be much less mobile in their working life. Often employees would find a working position straight from school and stay loyal to the same employer for years, if not decades. In times of high unemployment and later job insecurity employees began to feel that they had to be more competitive and prove themselves by working longer and harder. Attitudes to money also changed. People were no longer working to provide their families with the basics but to be able to afford all the ‘must-have’ items of modern life.

The pace of life became even faster with the advent of new technology. Of course we benefit from inventions like electronic media and communications. Using the internet, you can now get so many thing instantly, such as instant payday loans. However, our constant web connections also makes it much more difficult to leave our work behind when we return home to relax. Research has shown that 1/5th of employees take work home with them to finish at the weekend. FUrthermore, mobile phones mean we’re at the beck and call of our bosses even on our days off. And who would ignore a call from their boss?

The ‘Magic’ Solution of Multi-Tasking

From the late 1980s it was felt that multi-tasking would be the ‘magic’ solution to all of these problems of time management and in fact many people still try to make optimum use of their time with this method. If you find yourself trying to do your grocery shopping in your lunch-break or struggling to finish a work project at home at the same time as cooking, then you’re one of them. The latest studies have shown that it isn’t the perfect solution that it was originally claimed to be. Not only do people do all their tasks less efficiently when their attention is divided and possibly distracted but it adds to their overall stress levels.

The Realities of Modern Life

After we account for our working hours and of course our daily commute, all our other commitments have to be squeezed into the time which is left. Trying to find quality time for our partners, children, friends and family as well as squeeze in a few hours for housework, meals, shopping, hobbies, exercise, etc. means we often feel as if we’re rushing from one chore to the next with no time to ourselves. And is this hectic pace of life really good for us?

Life in the Fast Lane – Detrimental Effects

Research has repeatedly proven that rushing around on an endless merry-go-round of chores (which never seem to end) has a number of detrimental effects on us and those around us. Let’s look at them in greater detail.

Our Health

There’s no doubt that rushing around and the resulting stress have negative effects on our health. High levels of stress increase young adults’ chances of later developing high blood pressure with the attendant greater risk of heart disease.

In the report ‘Life in the Fast Lane’, it was found 85% of people questioned suffered from indigestion while 80% said they coped with their stress levels by excessive alcohol consumption in the form of binge drinking.

Our Partners & Family

We aren’t the only people to suffer when we feel we can’t deal with the demands and speeds of modern life as it has an effect on our relationships with the people around us. Instead of taking the time to wind down and use their shared dinner as family time to catch up on each other’s news, 61% of people in the survey said that they spent only 15-30 minutes eating their evening meal.

Impatience, anxiety and irritability can also have an impact on these relationships. Do we spend enough time with our partner and do we end up even resenting the time spent reading our children a bedtime story?

Sleep Patterns

Although biologists may disagree on why our bodies need sleep, they’re unanimous in stating that sleep is absolutely vital. The temptation to cut down on sleep to make more time to catch up on chores has many consequences – on our health, productivity and mood.

‘Me Time’ – Exercise & Hobbies

When you can’t cope with the fast pace of life and all the things you have to do, you might find it easiest to neglect regular exercise, your hobbies as well as cooking. Therefore, when we are living life in the fast lane, we eat ready-made meals instead of home-cooked ones. All of these add to the problems we might have with our health.

Perhaps this lack of ‘Me time’ is part of the reason why half of the people reported feeling stressed at the weekend at least once a month or why nearly 6 out of 10 people said they felt that they were missing out on something but didn’t know what it was.

So, what can be done about the consequences of being on the treadmill – is there no way of getting off?

Change Your Lifestyle: Slowing Down

Small changes can be made in your attitude towards time which can improve the quality of your life and this in turn will lead to improvements in your health, mood and relationships.

  • Prioritise What You Have to Do: One of the solutions to the problem of feeling that you don’t have enough time is to prioritise. Instead of trying to fill every spare moment or obsessively writing a ‘To do’ list of chores which must be done, cut the list in half and leave the others for another day. Does it really matter if the house isn’t perfectly tidy or all the ironing hasn’t been done?

    Change your attitude to these self-imposed list of chores. Instead of concentrating on what hasn’t been done, congratulate yourself on what has.

  • Be More Realistic with Your Scheduling: One of the reasons for stress is people don’t give themselves enough time to do everything which needs to be done. Instead of trying to cram too much into a day, leave time between chores and be realistic about how much you’ll be able to do in a day. Finishing early doesn’t mean rushing to do something else; use the time as a ‘gift’ to have a breather and wind down.

  • Enlist People’s Help: Don’t try to do everything on your own. Children aren’t too young to help you even if they only pick up their toys when they’ve finished playing. Don’t be too proud to ask for help either. Whether it’s from your partner, family or friends, everyone likes to feel needed.

  • Turn Off Electronic Devices: Don’t be afraid to turn off all your electronic devices – this 24-hour access to news, personal communication, same-day-loans and social media isn’t always good for us. The time when you aren’t online could give you the opportunity to recharge your batteries.

  • Have Contact with Nature: One of the theories about why people nowadays feel stressed – especially in large towns and cities – is that we’re constantly bombarded by noise. The best way to get away from this sensory overload is to take a walk in your local park or nearby countryside. Take time to do this every week and you’ll find it the ideal way to recharge your batteries.

  • Make Time for Hobbies: Maybe you feel that physical exercise is the way you can let off steam or your ideal hobby is something more soothing. Put aside some time every week for what you enjoy doing whether this is jogging or a less strenuous pastime like reading, gardening, listening to music or yoga.

  • Reward Yourself with a Day Off: In the ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ study, 6 out of 10 people said they secretly wanted to do nothing at the weekend but instead they got caught up in an endless round of household chores and personal commitments. If you feel the same way, you aren’t alone. Why not give yourself a weekend off every month? If you start back at work on Monday rested and relaxed, this will pay dividends for your mood and your productivity.

Conclusion of Life In The Fast Lane

In order to survive the stresses of living life in the fast lane, we must all change our attitudes to time. Not only will it improve our health but it will improve our mood, our relationships with the people around us and generally our quality of life. The worse thing about the strains of modern life is that most of the pressure we’re under is self-imposed; we compile the lists of chores and push ourselves to keep going. Therefore, the solution is in our hands too. Do yourself a favour and take a break. It might seem contradictory to say that you should give yourself time off to increase your productivity but it’s true.

Crystal Evans
Crystal is a likeable and fun personality. She is the life of the party, yet always thinking about others. Back in high school, Crystal scripted educational videos to help her peers understand complicated information in an easier format. Now that she has graduated university, Crystal takes her passion of helping others to write articles on topics she feels are helpful for her fellow Brits.

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