5 Reasons to Slow Down Your Life Today, and How to Do It

by Henrik Edberg


Image by ePi.Longo (license).

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“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Jim Goodwin

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
Lily Tomlin

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
Eddie Cantor

The world is moving at breakneck speed. Information is overflowing 24 hours a day. At work or in school we are busy, busy, busy. Lunch is wolfed down. When we get home there is still so much to do, so much we want before finally falling into the bed.

Sometimes this works fine. Sometimes this can cause problem, feelings like it’s all just too much and like you are not in control.

So I like to slow things down.

In this article I would like to explain why and how to do it practically.

If you are feeling like your speed in life is causing difficulties try one or a few of these things and see how they work for you.

1. You can lose or maintain weight.

It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. That’s because the food has to reach the intestines before your body starts sending signals telling your brain that you feel full. By slowing down your eating your brain can stop you before you eat too much.

I have found that that if I eat too fast then I usually eat about 15-25% more before I feel full. If you do this every day of the week those extra calories can quickly add up.

How to slow down:

  • Eat before you get ridiculously hungry. If you’re really hungry it will be hard to eat slowly. The best way to avoid this is to not wait for too long but to eat when you feel just a little hungry. Or to have your meals at specified times during the day that you know from experience will be appropriate to avoid getting too hungry.
  • Put down your fork between the bites. The classic advice is to put down your fork and then chew. Then to pick up your fork again after you’ve swallowed, take another bite and repeat the process. I like this tip because it forces you to slow down. Instead of taking that stressed energy from your day and just letting it power through the meal too as you quickly wolf down everything on your plate.
  • Focus on the food and yourself. Not on what other people are doing.It’s easy to get drawn into someone else’s pace while eating (just like when driving or running). Be conscious of keeping your own pace instead of just unconsciously eating as fast as everyone around the table might do.

2. You can lower your stress levels.

When you feel like life is going to fast then you feel like you are losing control over it or barely hanging on. This, as you also probably have noticed, can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

How to slow down: Simply do the things you are doing slower. If you are moving quickly then just take a deep breath and slow down your movement and your pace when walking. Drive your car and ride your bike a little slower. As mentioned above, eat slower. Take in life around you a bit instead of focusing on setting a new speed record.

3. You can gain clarity and find and do what is most important.

As everything moves a bit too fast it is easy to get lost. If you don’t think about what you are doing then you can easily get lose half your work day doing busywork. You mind just think “Hurry, hurry, hurry! What is the next thing?” instead of “What is the best use of my time and energy?”

How to slow down: When I get lost in such frantic and stressful activity I take a deep breath. I just take in my surroundings for a minute or two to relax and reconnect with this present moment. Then I ask myself:

What is the most important thing I can do right now?
Or I ask myself: If I only had two hours to work today then what would I spend those two hours working on?

As you take a breath, slow down and reconnect with what is most important a calm and focused energy and effectiveness replaces the frantic and stressed energy of a mind that is going too fast for its own good. Then you can take action and start doing the most important things one at a time.

This is not only helpful for daily decisions but for bigger decisions too. As you slow down it becomes easier to find a healthy perspective and to think things through in a clear and calm way.

4. You can get new ideas and let creativity flow again.

If your mind is constantly bombarded with new information, voices and sounds then it will be very hard to find room for creativity and for getting new ideas. Influences are good for creativity but a overload of input just makes you feel like your mind is overstuffed and like you are just trying to keep up with it all.

So you may need to slow down and free up some space in that mind.

How to slow down: Take a break. Or take a walk. Sit down in nature and watch the ocean. Or take a shower. Or take a while to just lie down on your bed and sofa and shut out the world for that time. Just be there without much thought about what you want to do or about the past or future. Just relax and be there and focus on the world around you.

The thing is that when you don’t focus on needing new ideas or on needing to be creative then your mind starts to relax and work on its own. And soon ideas start to pop up out of nowhere in your mind. Just be sure to write them down immediately as they can pass and disappear out into the world quickly again.

5. You can connect with the present moment and just fully enjoy what is happening right now.

When you are aligned with the present moment you tend to feel good and relaxed. Your mood is optimistic. You do your work in a focused manner and the social part of your life tends to go smoother and become more fun. You do things well without having to think that much at all really. You are flowing.

This is a wonderful headspace to spend as much of your week in as you can. You feel and work better this way.

This is also a good headspace to simply enjoy your life. It helps you appreciate the little and big things in life fully because you are fully there when they happen instead of planning for the future or reliving the past so intensely that you can’t fully appreciate and enjoy a meal, a conversation with a friend or a walk by the ocean.

How to slow down:

I usually just slow down what I am doing and go to a full stop. Then I take in my surroundings fully as they are happening right now for a minute or two.

I listen to the cars going by the house. I watch my desktop and the glass of water next to it. I may look out the window and see blue sky, the white snow and the cold air outside standing still. I feel the slight chilliness of the floor, the warmth in the air in this room and I feel the cold water in my mouth as I take a sip.

This is all I focus on as I slow down my day for a few minutes to move out of confusion, stress and daydreaming and into this moment. It may sound a bit odd but it makes a world of difference.

If you found this article helpful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and Stumbleupon. Thank you very much! =)





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{ 32 comments }

Jonas February 18, 2011 at 12:26 am

I think busy-ness is probably the number one disease and misalignment in our Western society. For God’s sake, we have even made “business” our deity, our icon, our religion.

Slowing down can bring us back many of the things busy-ness simply cannot provide, nor money can buy.

Thank you for an excellent post,

Jonas

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Thanks for the kind and thoughtful words! And yes, it has really become a big problem that just seems to grow.

Justin February 18, 2011 at 5:58 am

I found that If I write things down my mind will begin to relax more. I write down important dates on my calendar and daily blog activities on a yellow legal pad. This gives my mind a sense of certainty that things will get done. And thanks for the reminder to slow down, I needed it.

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Thank you for sharing how you go about things to relax.

Christa February 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

When I read the headline: ‘Reasons to slow down’, I was curious to read the article. I find your advice to connect and live in the now best. I too often think backward and sometimes forward, but seldom we stay in the now. When we are fully in the now we are happy and we are more creative and more productive.

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Thanks a lot! I agree, I like the reason about living in the now the best too.

Wendy Merron February 19, 2011 at 2:43 am

Great information. Slowing down really allows us to be with our thoughts, even for a brief moment. When we are aware of our thoughts we can consciously improve them, too. Having my own Hypnosis practice and business means that I always have something on my To Do List. As a result I forget about slowing down because I’m focusing on completing so many tasks. Thank you for your gentle reminder. So many reasons to slow down!

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Thank you, glad you found some good stuff in this reminder.

Logan February 19, 2011 at 4:34 am

Hey an addition to the weight loss slow down part, you can take a picture of every meal with your smart phone. This added conciousness to your eating will make you have smarter eating habits. Plus over time you will be able to get a clear trend of what your eating is really like.

This is very effective for losing weight

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

That’s a really good tip to find clarity in what you eat and have eaten, thank you for adding it!

AE Thanh February 19, 2011 at 6:39 am

When it comes to food, the one that helped me the most is chewing slowly. I used to be a fast eater, but for a while I forced myself to really chew my food at least 25 times. Besides the health benefits, it made me appreciate the food more and I started to eat less. It will take more time to finish a meal so by the time you’re actually full, your brain recognized that too (it takes about 15-20m before the brain registers when you’re full).

Another tip is to take naps. Disengage in the afternoon and wake up with clarity. If you keep working but never (strategically) rest, you stress yourself out. Naps are a great strategic way to relax and slow down. Its cousin, meditation is another thing you incorporate. Especially in the morning.

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Love the chewing tip and will try out it out for times when I feel stressed when I sit down to eat. Thank you for sharing! Naps is a good one too, although I myself have never been much of a napper.

Katie February 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I’ve been (slowly!) coming to this conclusion myself. I tend to think about things too much. It means that I’m never living in the moment and enjoying myself fully – I’m already too busy thinking about what the next thing I have to do is!

I’ve already been trying to be more aware of my surroundings and focus on doing one thing at a time, so I’ve come across your advice at the perfect time. Thank you.

Henrik Edberg February 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Glad to be of help and to have written this article at just the right time. :)

Steven | TEM February 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm

My life is actually going really fast right now, but I am comfortable with the pace only because WAY BACK I slowed myself down and re-connected with my passion. “Slowing down” can seem like a naughty phrase coming from a productivity standpoint, but it’s actually CRUCIAL to productivity and creativity in the long-run. If you can’t slow down, you’ll never be able to re-direct yourself when you start going down a bad path. If you can’t slow down, you won’t be able to handle life when it speeds up.

Great tips for those who need to take a step back and re-evaluate what there lives are all about.

JR February 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Love, love this sight. I have been trying to slow down for years. I find if I spend 30 minutes each morning writing (planning on what I want to accomplish for the day and reflecting) I stay much more focused and it is easier to stop thinking about what to do next. AND it keeps me from multitasking – which kills my day

jeff noel February 20, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Henrik, nice to meet you. Love your positivity blog & have subscribed to it. Following you on Twitter too.

Henrik, I write 5 daily, differently-themed blogs, as a way to teach our young son about Life’s Big Choices. Over 3,500+ blogs filled with positivity…short & pithy.

Peter G. James Sinclair February 21, 2011 at 2:38 am

Great article Henrik.

For many years now I have made it my habit to take myself to a quiet place where I can be uninterrupted in thought, prayer and meditation for one hour at the start of my day.

This is what I have called my Daily Calm Hour.

By prioritizing this in my life, and by making it a disciplined habit, I find that I am able to then approach each day with clarity, assuredness and peacefulness.

Evelyn Lim February 21, 2011 at 4:45 am

I love your point #5. It’s how I do it too. When I find that things are happening to fast for me, I will switch off my laptop and take a break. I may even excuse myself if there are others around and go to my room to just meditate. Silence rejuvenates me. Sometimes just 10 minutes is enough.

Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromatherapy Essential Oils)) February 22, 2011 at 12:11 am

It is so important to take time-outs and slow down on a daily basis. It’s good for your body, mind, relationships, career, everything! I like to use essential oils as part of my time-outs, whether I’m diffusing them into the air, or using them in bath and body products. Our sense of smell can be very powerful for transforming our moods.

Anarela February 22, 2011 at 6:57 am

Great! This is a reminder that I need to slow down my life!

Fulya February 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm

It’s not logical to believe that lifelong process is not taking a rest to us. The major factor in Psychology is burnout (experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest). If you want to be full of life and maintain this constantly, you will need to take a break before exhausted. Thank you for great article.

Pam February 26, 2011 at 6:20 am

Oh, how I wish people would slow down when driving. Everyone has this egotistical, me first attitude when they get behind the wheel. Not only would it be less stressful for all drivers, but there would be less accidents if only people would take it easy and adhere to the speed limits.

I love your blog – I have added you to my blogroll!

Voyle Glover February 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm

If I had life to live over, I would definitely incorporate some of your very excellent ideas, especially the stress reducers. We live life way too fast. Good job blogging.

joy March 3, 2011 at 9:46 am

Thanks for the great article and tips. It is so easy to get caught up being busy. We are so concerned with reaching the destination, that we forget to enjoy the journey which is what life is truly about. One tip that I’ve found that helps for my busy mind is to ask myself if I need to think about what’s bothering me in the moment or if I can postpone the thought. I’ve found that this opens me up to solutions and allows me to enjoy the present.

shambhavi March 3, 2011 at 12:04 pm

it was great learning from you to live my life in a better way your website is the gr8 one to remove up the stress everything here was for benefit thaaaaaaaaaaaanksssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Pamela March 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for sharing the great tips. I’ve found the more I slow down and really savor and appreciate each moment helps me enjoy life more.

Social Natural March 7, 2011 at 11:49 am

You have great weigh-loss tips in this article Henrik. I honestly did not know that about eating slow it processes the food and sends the signal to the brain 20-minutes, but I’ve kind of felt it but never really paid attention to it.

I find what you talk about here correlates to taking a step-back from whatever you’re doing and assess the situation to get a bigger perspective because you can see if where you’re going is the right direction without expanding the size of the map.

Brent Partner March 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

I have found the practice of ten minutes simple meditation each morning has enabled be to slow down my day. Certainly, it curbs my morning appetite and I find I no longer need to rush at breakneck speed to my office each day. It has also enabled my creative pursuits greatly. Superb post.

Archvill March 13, 2011 at 1:01 am

Thanks. I’ll try to adopt No.3 because I always feel I have too many things to do and too little time.

Jayson April 9, 2011 at 8:11 am

Another great write up! I just love your post! Thanks :-)

Daryl Drew April 16, 2011 at 3:16 am

I think that you are right on about taking that deep breath. Sometimes at work I find myself feeling rediculously busy. Then when I just calm down and take a deep breath, I find that things are not as out of control as I first thought.

Also, I am an advocate of slowing down and enjoying things like a breeze, or a blue sky. Without doing these things, one can miss out on lots of finer, yet simpler things in life.

-Daryl

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