Time Anxiety – The Panic Behind Being Late

I wanted to share this guest blog post from Nikki, a fellow mental health blogger. This is the second guest from Nikki. You can find her @ https://digitalbutterfly.life

( A Guest Blog Post)

Time Anxiety – The Panic Behind Being Late

Keeping to a routine and following a schedule are key things which help me balance my anxiety, but they also cause me one of the greatest problems. Time Anxiety. 

This may not be a medical term, but it’s part of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and something I struggle to get to grips with. 

Over the years I’ve done Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), delving into my inner thoughts and unconscious beliefs about myself. But I never considered looking into this trigger. Why does being late or even the idea of it, send me into such a panic?

Timing with Children

I’m always clock watching. Perhaps that’s part of being a parent? School drop off and pick up, after school clubs, parents’ evenings, nap times, meal times, bed times. Everything has a time association. And if you’re late, there’s a consequence. 

God help me if my youngest doesn’t eat on time. He becomes over hungry and grumpy as hell, which means he won’t eat anything. Then he’s even hungrier which means he won’t sleep properly. Consequently, I get no sleep, I’m exhausted and I can’t cope with things as easily the next day. 

If my eldest is late for school, he’s the one who gets the yellow card, not me. My incompetency as a parent to get him to school on time would affect his ability to have playtime at school. And I don’t want that. 

A Time Focused Life

But isn’t everything in life built around time? Meetings at work, project deadlines, appointments. If you’re late, there are repercussions. Missed bonuses, delayed treatments, job loss! 

Even relaxing things have a time constraint. Going on vacation? Make sure you don’t miss your plane! Going to a concert? Make sure you get in before the doors close! It’s no wonder I’m anxious about being late. 

Other-Half Timing

But it’s not just being late myself that stresses me out. It’s others around me too. My husband is the worst culprit. He’s generally late. But he doesn’t care. He poodles along at his laid-back pace, jumping in the shower 5 minutes before we are due to be somewhere. He whistles as he gets ready, without a care in the world, while I’m having an internal meltdown. I check my watch constantly in fantastical hope that time will freeze or go backwards and we won’t be late. I tap my foot and sigh loudly. My heart’s racing, my jaw clenching and my thoughts spiralling repetitively.

“We’re going to be late. We’re going to be late

We generally are. And what happens? Apart from us arguing, NOTHING. If we miss the train, we get another one. If we miss an appointment, we re-book. Late to a party, no-one cares!

Finding an Answer

If my husband can be so nonchalant about time, why can’t I? Why I am I unable to mentally differentiate between truly urgent timescales and routine based timescales. Those which, if missed, wouldn’t be the end of the world. Why do I panic if I don’t get the washing in the machine at a certain time or don’t leave the house at a certain time to get to the shop? 

Control perhaps. Anxiety makes me feel completely out of control and time is one of those things in life, that you can’t control. You never know what’s around the corner that could affect your perfectly laid plans. 

Or perhaps, yet again, it boils down to my underlying core-belief, that I am a failure. And every time I’m late, even if it’s just to do my own washing, it re-confirms that belief. 

I’ve failed to feed my children. I’ve failed to provide enough clean clothes. I’ve failed as a mother.
I’ve failed to be heard by my husband. I’ve failed to gain his respect. I’ve failed as a wife

It’s a bleak subconscious mind which constantly believes it’s failing. 

Now that I seem to have uncovered a possible reason for my time anxiety, perhaps it’s time to return to my lessons from CBT. Bring my dark thoughts before my mental jury and challenge them. 

Nikki is a mental health blogger and freelance writer at https://digitalbutterfly.life

15 Replies to “Time Anxiety – The Panic Behind Being Late”

      1. Hmmm… I think that I realized there were also annoyances my wife had/has with me that I said I would work on them with her help if she’d please meet somewhere in the middle. Good luck!


  1. I have time anxiety as well so I relate a lot to what you have said. People always comment on how early I get to my uni lectures, but I prefer to get there and wait around than walk into a room full of people and have all the attention. Maybe that’s more my social anxiety getting the better of me😅


      1. Hi! Thanks for commenting! I definitely prefer getting to a place earlier, having chance to calm down, breathe and use the toilet vs walking in late, sweaty and needing to pee, with everyone watching!


  2. Back in high school I would get such high anxiety over being late that if I was estimated to even arrive to class more than twenty minutes late, I would call in sick to school. These days I still get an urge to do this with work, but of course always push that thought aside and go no matter how late.


    1. Thanks for commenting! Well done for pushing through. It’s different with work, I guess we feel like we HAVE to go, but there have been many times where I’ve been running late and just wanted to turn the car around and go home!


  3. I can understand where you’re coming from. I absolutely hate being late for things. I feel really annoyed whenever I am. I have a daily routine and if something throws me off of it I don’t do well. I think it’s because my life feels so out-of-control at times as it is. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thanks Kevin, I totally get that! I too feel like life is out of control, but if I can maintain a routine it keeps me balanced, problem is life doesn’t agree and throws curve balls to mess things up!


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