“The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.”
“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
“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.”
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.
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