Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you love speed, efficiency, and multi-tasking as much as I do? I consider wasting time and sitting around the absolute worst. Usually, I find myself figuring out how quickly I can get to an appointment or if it’s possible to meet up with a few groups of friends and family over the weekend. How many fun activities can we squeeze into our vacation? If we do less, what if we miss out on something amazing? (Hello FOMO.) Is it possible to complete a master’s, organize a 5K & 10k race fundraiser, work full-time, participate in travel soccer with our son, succeed at a new job, and still be a happy and well-adjusted person all within the same year? The answer is a BIG no – I learned this the hard way.
While speed and efficiency are wonderful, learning balance is also important. What am I trying to prove by moving so fast? I’m sure you can easily come up with a list of times moving too quickly and doing too much resulted in disaster for you, too. For better or worse, we are all part of a culture that demands instant gratification and our busy schedule is often worn as a badge of honor.
Even today I find myself lengthening my to-do list and working on figuring out how much more I can squeeze into the day because I feel like I’m being lazy otherwise. However, a popular song just popped into my head.
I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know whysong by alabama
So, now that we realize going too fast isn’t ideal, what are all the benefits of slowing down?
5 Ways Slowing Down Improves Your Life
- Greater Clarity – Are you on the right career path or in a relationship that is a good fit for you? What are your major goals in life? Are you taking the right steps to achieve those goals? Sometimes we move so quickly and squeeze in so much that we end up moving in the wrong direction. Ultimately, we find ourselves in a bigger mess than when we started. There is no shame in slowing down and checking in with yourself to make sure you’re doing the right thing for your physical, emotional, and mental health. Then, by all means, move as fast as you feel comfortable once you know you’re heading in the right direction. Whatever you do, don’t try to squeeze in so many activities that you don’t have time to check in with yourself.
- Reduce Stress to Improve Your Health – Burnout and breakdowns are real. When we’re overworked and stressed, we tend to make more mistakes and we’re more likely to get sick. Stress has been known to contribute to heart disease, heart attacks, asthma attacks, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, and the list goes on! For the sake of your health and long-term sanity, please slow down.
- Better Interpret and Harness Emotion – Have you ever overreacted to a situation out of anger or stress? (I’ve NEVER done that… lol.) The most successful people take time to understand how and why they feel a certain way and process their emotions before reacting. While suppressing emotion is not good, taking the time to understand your emotions so you can improve how you act and communicate is incredibly helpful.
- Make Better Decisions – This one is simple. When your mind is focused on one thing at a time, you’re better able to absorb information, assess the situation, and make a solid decision. Have you dropped balls at work since you had too many projects going on at once? How many times have you felt overwhelmed with racing thoughts and ended up washing your hair in the shower more than once since you couldn’t remember if you already washed it? Slowing down improves productivity. Busyness doesn’t equal success.
- Boost Creativity – When is the last time you let your mind wander? Have you ever noticed that your best ideas come to you in the shower or when you’re relaxed and having fun? Daydreaming and dreaming is often behind scientific breakthroughs and musical compositions. When we’re relaxed and happy, dopamine is released which helps the mind to wander and activates the creative process.
Since there are countless benefits to slowing down, it’s time to figure out just how to slow down. Here are a few tips.
Tips to Slow Down
- Schedule time to do nothing or mindless tasks.
- Give yourself grace and skip the guilt.
- Get a massage.
- Drink coffee at the restaurant instead of taking it to-go. Take a moment to appreciate the feeling of the warm mug, the quiet clinking of dishes, and the gentle hum of coffeehouse conversation.
- Meditate. If you’re new to meditation, it is quite simple. Relax your body, drop your knees below your hips so you can either sit cross-legged or in a chair, close your eyes or focus them on a specific item, and focus on your breath. If you catch yourself thinking, bring your thoughts back to your breath.
- Exercise to relax.
- Take a hot bath.
- Sit in the sauna.
- Hang out with your dog.
- Take deep breaths.
- Try yoga.
- Step outside.
- Eat slowly.
- Turn off your phone.
- Do one thing at a time.
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier and start your day at a more leisurely pace.
- Embrace silence by turning off the tv, music, and enjoy being alone for a few minutes.
- Really listen the next time you have a conversation. Listen to understand and not to respond.
- Declutter your home and enjoy a more peaceful space.
- Say no more often.
- Spend time with people you love.
Hope this helps! How do you usually slow down?