Welcome to my 28th post for One Simple Change! If you are new here, One Simple Change is a (more or less) weekly series that I started in January, 2012. My goal with each post is to share an easy way to improve your health- and your life- holistically. If you’d like to check out my previous One Simple Change posts, you can find them here.
I apologize for how quiet it’s been here on my blog lately…life this summer has been so full! I started this post days ago then set it aside; for various reasons, I just could not give it the attention that was required. But I can now resume my “regularly scheduled programming”, and I’ll get back to posting One Simple Change on Fridays next week. Since I didn’t post last week, I’ll make that missing post up to you soon, ok?
Before I go on, I want to mention that not too long ago, I would have given myself a seriously hard time for not getting my blog posts done “on time”. But ever since I wrote this, things are different. I’ve been following my own advice and it’s truly changed my life…I sincerely hope that you are getting something out of One Simple Change, as well.
This week I want to talk about Slowing Down.
This is a post I’ve been planning to write for One Simple Change for a while, and I think now’s the perfect time since I just did a week long rock climbing camp with my kids. Yes, you read that right…I went to rock climbing camp. I’ve got a very sore back, scrapes on my fingers, and a banged up knee to show for it. I’ve also got a contented heart: I really enjoyed the camp!
Once upon a time (not too long ago), I was obsessed with being productive…with crossing stuff off one checklist or another. My mind was racing all the time with thoughts of everything I needed to do, and I rushed through most tasks just to get them finished.
Ever since I committed myself to being in the moment, however, much of the above has changed. In making the effort to be present, my mind is no longer racing. My life has slowed down and I am making different choices. I don’t think I would have signed up for this rock climbing camp before. I wouldn’t have allowed myself the week off to do something like this. But I am so glad that I did.
If you’ve ever rock climbed before, you know that’s it’s the ultimate exercise in being present and taking it slow. Exactly what I needed right now.
I used to be afraid to slow down because I feared I would never get anything done. How could I if I didn’t rush? Now I understand that by slowing down (and being present), I can clearly see what I actually need to do. And if I do whatever it is I need to do slowly, I generally do a much better job (don’t confuse slowing down with procrastinating, though…the two are NOT the same).
I also used to worry that if I slowed down, I’d end up late. Now I see that this just isn’t the the case. Being late is more often about not leaving yourself enough time to prepare. Have you ever had the experience of being in such a rush that you spill your breakfast all over your clothes? Then you need to clean up the mess, go change, etc…and you waste a whole bunch of time as a result? I certainly have. I’ve also gotten a speeding ticket when I was rushing to be somewhere. Of course I ended up super late as a result.
Keep in mind that slowing down may require you to adjust your schedule. For example: you may need to start getting up earlier so that you can move at a slower pace in the morning and still get to where you need to be on time. I’ve personally been getting up 1/2 an hour earlier than I used to on weekday mornings (I am working on moving my bedtime earlier, too…we’ll talk more about sleep in a One Simple Change post soon).
So don’t rush through life: it’s a marathon not a sprint. Give yourself permission to take it slow sometimes (and to take time off when you need it). Slowing down is a good strategy for dealing with anxiety; it’s also a good way to help manage stress. Management of stress is essential for a healthy life.
Practice taking your time as often as you can. Slow down when you cook, and slow down when you eat: your meals will taste better and you will better digest your food. And try to slow down in your interactions with family, friends, and everyone you encounter.
If your job lends itself to slowing down, then by all means do so, but definitely slow down when you’re at play. Slowing down lets you see things you might have otherwise missed.
Know that slowing down does not equal being lazy! If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing slowly :)
These days, most people are seriously over committed. This usually leads to having to be in a rush all the time, and rarely being able to experience the beauty of slowing down. It’s really important to recognize when your plate is too full. When that happens, I advise you to consider “scraping some things off” (ie letting some commitments go), and that probably means learning how to say “no”.
For those of us who spend a lot of time online, this might mean saying no to opportunities that promise little “return on investment”. It might also mean reigning in an overactive social media existence. I’ve been experimenting with this by spending less time on sites like pinterest and twitter lately…it’s kind of amazing how much less busy I feel, and how much extra time I’ve freed up to do other (more important to me) things by doing so. I don’t know about you, but I have noticed that I experience imagery/information overload when I spend too much time online…I really need to step away quite frequently if I want to “stay slow”.
I sincerely believe that if you spend a lot of time online, it’s good to do an occasional social media “fast”. Go away (or stay home) and unplug from the computer and/or your phone for a little while. How long you do this is up to you…it could be 5 hours or it could be 5 days. This will allow you to take a break from that pressure to stay connected that so many of us feel nowadays…I think this is a great way to slow down.
Some other ways to slow down:
1. Close your eyes and take 10 very deep, slow breaths. Try this any time you feel overly busy/stressed.
2. Read a book (preferably not a murder mystery!)
3. Go for a walk/get some fresh air every day/make time to connect to nature
4. Make sure you get enough sleep
5. Schedule down time into your day
So what do you think about this week’s One Simple Change? What does slowing down mean to you? Do you slow down on a daily basis? On weekends? On vacation? Or never? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts :)