One Simple Change: Slow Down

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 :)

Leave a Comment

21 thoughts on “One Simple Change: Slow Down”

  1. Thank you for the reminder! I’ve been going, going, going, and having a hard time relaxing. I need to learn to relax more and not get all wound up!

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I used to rush through life too. Now, I slow down when I need to, which is why i haven’t posted anything new on my blog this week. Instead, I’m just reading…….in the slow zone. Nice site!

  3. Hi Winnie,

    Thanks for the reminder. I’m on the computer most nights, rushing to get through my list of personal work (like writing) before doing work work the next day. I’ve decided to do that far less and declare “no work” nights many nights during the week. Life is a mad dash, but I have to stop contributing to that.

    My idea of slowing down is cooking and I am doing it less than I’d like this summer. I slowed down and made a pie this weekend, every bit of it from scratch, not for anyone but me, it felt great. :)

    Have a good week!

  4. It took 8 days on an expedition in Southeastern Alaska to teach me what you offer as an important life lesson. I plan to reclaim my blog, slow down, relearn to cook new recipes every week – or so – and make it fun again. No more anxiety re stats, traffic, deadlines. This is my time for me in my kitchen!

  5. I started to get earlier in order to allow myself a slow-paces waking up, too. I like to start my day with breakfast, coffee and news no matter if I have to go to work or not. It makes me feel good –and whenever I will learn to go to bed early, I will feel even better.

    At work, I feel the pressure of productivity and rushing seems to be a state of mind. But once at home, I try not to condemn myself to more tasks and too many things to do. Have you read the article on the NYT, “The busy trap”? I found myself in that article. Free time is meant to be leisurely, contemplative, not a way to feel guilty for not doing enough. I try to remind myself of this every day.

  6. Winnie, I loved this post. I am constantly caught up in the tyranny of the list, the to-do’s, the what ifs. There is the magical question that children always ask – why? – and if we gave ourselves permission to ask it of ourselves, and our expectations, that would be a blessing. Thank you Winnie, for being your wise and wonderful self. xo

  7. I think slowing down means acceptance. I have to accept that I can’t do everything right this very second nor do I want to for that matter. It means making my to do lists but not always following them. It means finding time to be engage in my life in a genuine way, not to go through it goal to goal. It also means appreciating the people and relationships I have.

    I’m glad you took the time to go to rock climbing camp. It sounds like a perfect week, bumps, scrapes and all.

  8. This is a great post. I really love your message & your writing style. I have been really working on this too lately. I find my favorite way to slow down & appreciate the little things is through nature. A nice walk outside or reading a book outdoors inside of inside makes such a big difference for me.

  9. Wow- amazing at 64 I need to be reminded to slow down. I have been going so fast this weekend trying to accomplish way too much in a small amount of time and then wonder why I’m exhausted on Monday morning! Thanks for the reminder. First time on your sight. I hooked up because I loved the recipe on Easy Eats from the 5 minute book! Thanks.mary

  10. How funny – the exact same thoughts have been rattling around for me lately, and after a week at a mountain camp with my family too. (No official rock climbing, but some serious bouldering and much hiking, and daily swims in the Tuolumne river!). I love the idea of unplugging – I realized that I needed to do that each night after dinner, or I was having trouble sleeping. So now, if it’s not done by 7 pm, it will wait until tomorrow. I am ineffective, scattered, and subsequently exhausted when I stay online late into the night … reading or hanging out with my husband are far more relaxing, and my life feels so much more balanced. Since I am a stay-at-home mom, I also try not to check my phone while I am with my kids (trickier than you’d think!). And we all unplug during meals, and on Saturdays. I feel much saner and able to stay in the bigger moment of life when I am not lost in the little dribs and drabs of text messages, emails, voicemails, online articles, and facebook. I am considering a week long ‘fast’ from facebook, just to see how it changes my life … I was a late joiner, and am not totally convinced it’s a good thing! :) Thanks for another great post – love the series.

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  12. Hi Winnie,
    what a wonderfully written post on a subject that everyone needs to think about As a whole we push ourselves too much, always overloading our schedules. I never thought that much about living in the moment, before BSP3 but I certainly took that advice to heart.
    I agree about cutting down on social media, especially twitter….I get nothing from that. I don’t think in this stage of my life I could unplug completely, but I definitely need to start giving myself time to recharge my batteries.

    I’m so glad we got to spend some time together at BSP3, it was very nice to get know you in real life, not just on the internet!

  13. Excellent post! I think we all need to take deep breaths and learn to live more in the moment. We rush ourselves and put even more pressure on ourselves by thinking ahead at what needs to be done instead of focusing on what we are doing. Your words about unplugging from social media really struck a chord with me as I tend to stress about what is waiting in my reader and email and not connecting on Twitter as often as I’d like. Over the summer I’ve let go of those worries. While I do miss the social interaction on line, the benefits of the *face to face* interactions with family and friends I am experiencing as a result is priceless.

  14. Hi Winnie! Great post. I just spent a week with my kids and my mother at a strings suzuki camp and then two weeks unplugged in a cabin with the two boys, my husband and the baby. It is amazing how calm I became just by getting off the grid for a bit. Your post is RIGHT on!

  15. Winnie, thank you for your great healthful & helpful posts!! I look forward to seeing what you will focus on next!.I have entitled a file folder,”One Simple Change”& put your articles in to remind me of your thoughts-ideas for change. I would like to hear your thoughts on acid/alkaline forming foods.And i enjoy your recipes too!

  16. Winnie, the more I read your posts about ‘one simple change,’ the more I find myself saying, ‘oh gosh, that’s me!’ I feel like my life is always in fast forward and after listening to the speakers at BSP and reading this, I’ve started to look at my life big-picture and figure out what is clutter that I trip over on the path to happiness. Thank you for sharing this and your other posts–I’m looking forward to reading them [and making changes…one at a time…and when I’m ready :]

  17. These are such great tips, Winnie! I spent a lot of my life in “rush mode” but I’ve recently given myself permission to slow down. I still move through tasks steadily, but I’m no longer trying to do everything at once, and do it all perfectly. Letting go and slowing down has brought much healing to my life.