The phrase ‘African timing’ may be a joke to some, but to others, it causes ongoing feelings of uneasiness and even dread. Have you ever known someone who tries to spend every minute of their time productively? They feel nervous when they don’t, and this nervousness manifests in an increased heartbeat and other symptoms of regular anxiety. Some of them feel stress over potential lateness and are constantly on edge. It sounds like a lovely trait in some ways because these people are known to always keep time, but it may be deeper than you think.
Time anxiety is any feeling one may have or the fear you may experience that there is not enough time to accomplish what you want to, or that the time you do have you are wasting.
Causes of time anxiety
1. Time anxiety may be caused by a people-pleasing attribute where you want to be on everyone’s good side every time. When you want people to like you, you might do everything possible including being on time to leave a positive impression.
2. Some people are constantly worried about living a life without meaning, and this leads to time anxiety. Making every second count is virtually impossible, and the harder you try the harder it becomes.
3. Underlying anxiety issues may also cause time anxiety. Mental illnesses can sometimes snowball and affect one another, this is not an exception. The time you spend with anxious thoughts distracts you from your primary activity, leaving you with the sense that time is slipping away. The more anxious you feel the worse these feelings can get.
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Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of time anxiety may be as simple as a person who is always checking the time, constantly trying to be there on time and planning out the best route to their next destination. It seems easy, but it distracts them from concentrating on the now and living in the moment. Here are some other more complex symptoms of time anxiety.
1. Constantly worrying about lateness
If you’re always checking the time and setting multiple alarms, then you may be suffering from time anxiety. If it makes you bite your nails, breathe faster, and the likes, then you need to work on this condition.
2. Being late affects your mood
If, when you get somewhere late your mood changes for the worst, then you may also be suffering from this. You might feel irritated or angry, even when your lateness doesn’t matter all that much.
3. Believing you’ve missed out on opportunities
People who have time anxiety feel as though they’re missing out – on the fun parts of a party, on opportunities, conversations, and other milestones. This fixation on the passage of time can overwhelm you to the point that you fail to see ways you could actually achieve these goals.
How to deal with it
1. Imagine the worst-case scenario
You start your trip thirty minutes later than you were supposed to. What’s the worst that could happen? You get to your destination late. What does this mean? You miss out on thirty minutes of holiday time. What’s the worst that could happen? Interrupting your distress can help you calm down before you get so stressed that you can’t even enjoy the party once you do get there.
2. Practise mindfulness
One of the major reasons why time anxiety occurs is because we’re so hellbent on the future and forget to focus on the now. How can we fix this? By learning to live in the moment and practising mindfulness.
Cultivating greater mindfulness, or the ability to remain focused on the present can also help. All you need to do is focus on what you’re doing right now instead of worrying about what’s going to happen later.
3. Make yourself aware of the relationship you have with time
Time anxiety is a manifestation of a negative relationship with time. Truth be told, we sometimes place time as a major priority in life, and this can catch up with us. You need to remind yourself and be aware of the fact that firstly, time exists. Secondly, that you have no control over how time functions and therefore you can neither slow it down nor stop it.
4. Seek therapy
Time anxiety can affect the quality of your life. If you’re always on edge about spending your time productively and making sense of each second you spend on earth, you end up losing out on regular activities.
A therapist can help you examine the reasons behind these feelings and explore ways of working through your fears. Therapy can have particular benefits if you struggle with existential dread or worry about not living up to your potential. In therapy, you can begin identifying ways to create meaningful change and come to terms with what you can’t control. 6 Ways To Make The Most Out Of Your Therapy Sessions
Remember, The more we focus on the limited time we have, the more limiting our time feels.
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