Updated: Feb 1
We live in a culture that values and demands goal-oriented, adaptive, highly productive, mobile, and high achievers both at work and in our private lives. As we continue to work from home, the boundaries between work and life are more blurred than ever, and the grace given at the beginning of the pandemic has faded. Sometimes it feels that we move so fast it is impossible to slow down and appreciate where we are at any particular moment. There is also a narrative of shame that tells us that if we do slow down or rest, it means we're lazy.
When we live our lives at breakneck speed, we can experience anxiety, depression, anger, resentment, and guilt. Unfortunately, we are also more prone to physical ailments and getting sick.
We also don't have time to live at a deeper level. So we stay at the surface, and it keeps us from making genuine connections with others or our world.
However, rest is fundamental to success, health, and happiness. Slowing down has been shown to lead to better mental health, a healthier immune system, improved mood, reduced stress, increased concentration and memory, and even a better metabolism.
Tips for Slowing Down
Start Your Day Slowly.
Mornings can be one of the most stressful times of the day. Most of us rush out of bed to an alarm and start running. When we begin our day this way, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you can, try to start your day slower and with intention. Try waking up 15 minutes earlier and taking your time getting out of bed. You won't feel rushed, and you'll have time to enjoy your morning routine.
Take 10 minutes to enjoy.
We often check our phones, watch the tv, or aimlessly scroll while we have our morning coffee or tea. Drop the multitasking and simply sit and enjoy the taste and feel of your morning beverage. Pay attention to the sensations and notice the color, taste, smell, and feel. Sit with your positive thoughts quietly and enjoy the moment.
We all know that nature is good for us. Multiple studies have shown that simply going outside has excellent mental and physical benefits. The outdoors lowers your blood pressure, reduces stress, increases memory, boosts immunity, and creates a sense of calm in your life. When you're outside, try to focus on being present. Take time to focus your senses on what's happening around you. For example, focus on the smells of the plants around you, the feeling of the breeze on your skin, or the warmth of the sun on your face. (PS. This is harder in the winter, but it's still important to try to get outside).
Turn off your Tech.
We are addicted to our technology. It makes life easier, provides us with information, and connects us with the world. But it can also take over and prevent us from engaging with the people and places right in front of us. Try to create some boundaries regarding your technology usage. Make a conscious effort to unplug (even for a short period) to reengage in life and reduce the stress vying for your attention.
Try taking even five minutes to slow down and pay attention to your breathing. When we are busy, we don't notice our breathing, and usually, we have been taking very shallow breathes. When we breathe in a shallow way, the body remains in a cyclical state of stress—our stress causing shallow breathing and our shallow breathing causing stress. Focus on taking slow, deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth. If your attention wanders, gently return that attention to breathing in deeply and breathing out completely.
We are constantly bombarded by sound and distractions. Turn off the TV, Alexa, stereo, podcast, etc., and sit in silence for a while. Pay attention to where you are and how you feel. What's going on around you that you usually fail to notice? Eliminating those distractions even for a few minutes can help us slow down and refocus.
Set Boundaries and Say No.
We are over-scheduled and over-busy. Set boundaries with your time and energy. Reflect on your priorities, and think about where you want to invest your time and energy. Say no to the things that don't align with your values and priorities. Clear the unnecessary appointments from our schedules. Say no sometimes and remove the things that don't bring value to your life.
When we slow down and take a minute to be grateful for what we have, we find more contentment and happiness. Gratitude helps shift our mindset. You can practice gratitude anywhere at any time, and it allows you to reconnect yourself to your life immediately.
If you're struggling, seek help. Sharp Wellness offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy to help support you and help you live your best life. Contact us now.