There are infinite sources of stress in our days: the competing demands of home, work or school; conflicts with others; illness, injury and addiction; financial stress and debt; suffering from the past, worries about the future; mean bosses, bullies and angry customers.
But we often neglect one source over which we have some control – the pace of the day.
Emergency physicians and family doctors are no strangers to demanding, high intensity workdays. In a typical shift, they may not have time to eat or even go to the washroom. Fortunately for their patients, they do take the time to wash their hands.
The constant pressure to keep up with a never-ending queue can create sufficient mental and physical stress to affect the quality of our work.
Employees in downsized offices, taking on the workload of laid off colleagues can face burnout from the ever-growing mountains on their desktops.
And let’s not forget the mothers and fathers of young children. Their only downtime is when their kids are finally sleeping (hopefully throughout the night).
There is a tempo and rhythm at which we function best. We need just enough challenge to keep growing, moving forward and experiencing the satisfaction of accomplishment. Without such positive stress, we would be stagnant, bored and unproductive.
But too rapid a pace – when the demands of work exceed our capacity to meet them – can lead to physical stress, anxiety, burn out and depression. And if we are acting faster than we can think, we are bound to make mistakes. Quality and productivity suffer. Our sense of wellbeing suffers.
Next: How can you tell if your pace is right for you?