There are 24 hours in every day, and we each get to make at least some of the decisions related to filling those hours. If we don’t make well-considered choices, it is easy to get caught up in responding to emails, making phone calls, working long hours, scheduling and transporting our kids for and to various organized activities, disregarding our sleep needs, and even racing through meals or letting go of family meal times altogether. This chronic, fast-paced life has one important hitch: it’s not healthy—for body, mind, spirit, or family relationships.

For starters, the “need for speed” that accompanies a super-busy life activates the same stress-response system that evolved in our brain to protect us from dangers that scarcely exist any longer, such as an attacking lion. When the stress-response system is activated, hormones like adrenaline and cortisol flood the body, resulting in rattled nerves, a weakened immune system, and a dampened mood.

In addition, your brain’s alarm system goes on red alert when the stress-response system is triggered. The red alert nudges your brain to look for potential threats and to do so quickly. The result can then often include overreactions because your brain has less time to think clearly in order to make the best decisions.

Slowing down is possible, for your own benefit and that of your family. Start with a few small things that you can control. For example, plan to take a long, slow breath a few times a day or stroll to a meeting rather than racing down the hall. Create space each week to enjoy most family meals in a leisurely fashion.

It’s your life. Do you need to slow down to enjoy it and your loved ones?