Learning to Slow Down
Lately I feel as if I’m always in a hurry. As if the days are hurtling by and I can barely keep up. I’ve been feeling like this for a while and I don’t like it. One of the reasons we moved out of the city was to live a slower life, but here I am rushing, again.
If I think about it, I’ve been feeling this way for a while. My word of the year for 2018 is PRESENT, chosen to help me create a sense of calm and slowness in my life. When I wrote about it in January I said:
I want a word that will help me grow and find wisdom, whether I accomplish my goals or not. In Present I see mindfulness. I see slowness. With Present as my word I hope to be more aware and relaxed. I hope to listen more closely to my intuition.
I’m not sure I’ve been entirely successful at this, but I have been working on it. Just being aware helps.
And I do try to be aware. When I feel myself rushing, flying through a task to get it done as fast as possible, I stop for a moment and tell myself to slow down. It’s helping.
While I was thinking about all of this, I immediately blamed our society, the internet, smartphones and social media for shrinking attention spans. I did a bit of research so I could trot out some statistics for you. What I found was interesting. Those claims of our shortening attention spans (shorter even than that of goldfish) don’t have science to back them up. And goldfish’s tiny attention spans and no memory? Ends up that’s not true, either.*
Even if I can’t blame the the internet for a quickening pace, limiting my (unproductive) time spent on the computer and with my phone is something I’m working on. After all, there are other, more satisfying things I’d rather be doing.
So what else can help?
Is it even possible to slow down? Maybe not. But it doesn’t hurt to try.
I’ve put together a list of some things that help me stay present. I hope they’ll help you, too.
Pay attention to where I am and what I’m doing. This might seem obvious, but so often I find myself rushing through my tasks on auto-pilot. I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to live.
Breathe. I stop when I realize I’m rushing and spend a few moments breathing deeply to help ground myself.
Pay attention to my senses. Being aware of what I taste, smell, feel, hear and see immediately brings me back to the present.
Go for a walk. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, getting outside can be healing. I often return inspired. Yesterday I spotted a bald eagle swooping over town and discovered some violets blooming in the corner of my yard. These gifts are always there for us if we’re open to them.
Make sure I’m getting enough rest.
Give myself extra time for scheduled tasks and include transitions between one thing and another so I’m not rushing. I’ll be honest and tell you I’m not always good at this!
Pay attention to my natural ebbs and flows of energy.
Make time for healthy cooking. Matthias and I have gotten into the habit of leisurely cooking big meals on the weekends that will help get us through the week. We don’t usually get home till after 8 most evenings and it makes all the difference to have healthy food ready when we get home. Plus, spending the time together cooking is fun.
Be stingy with my time.
Make something! Crafting and making art forces me to slow down. Painting, sewing, crochet have all been wonderful teachers in patience.