“If you are always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in?” ~ Nanette Matthews
Do you find yourself in a perpetual panic, chronically hurrying, feeling as if there’s never enough time? You’re not alone. The fervor of modern life can make it very challenging to slow down However it is possible to learn to temper your pace, while still achieving goals and checking off that ever revolving to do list. Slowing down doesn’t mean giving up, in fact, it is just the opposite! It is about investing in yourself, renegotiating your time, affording you more opportunity to be present, to be happy, less stressed and in the end, more efficient.
When you flit from one task to another, you deprive your spirit of soaking up the moment, and you rob yourself of the joy of the journey. Take a second to reflect on how many times you have been walking the dog, helping the kids, driving in your car, yet your mind is on a business meeting, a bill you have to pay, next week’s appointments. You miss the smells of nature, or the funny face your child made, or the beauty of the trees you are passing. So how can you learn to slow down, to notice, and to be more present?
Consciously learn to raise your awareness –Take small awareness breaks throughout the day. Look out of the window, notice how you are feeling, breathe fully for five or ten minutes. Turn away from your computer, your phone, your whatever and feel rather than do. Let go of day-to-day work and home demands for a few minutes every day.
Practice starting conversations with strangers – people in line, or the store clerk you see at your favorite grocery store. Acknowledge them; listen with interest to other people’s responses. By taking time to connect with others on a human level you open yourself up to new experience. Let go of the idea that you are too busy to listen to others. You will be astounded how often your assumptions of others prove to be wrong. You may get a little nugget of knowledge you hadn’t anticipated. Carving out time for others, even if it’s only a few moments of conversation, can renew your spirit and give you a sense of connection with others.
Connection lessens feelings of being overwhelmed and isolation – Think about when you talk to someone you barely know, maybe about something trivial, annoying or stress inducing, like traffic and realize, I’m not the only one who feels like this. If you never take the time to engage with others, you deprive yourself of giving and receiving acknowledgement.
Stop cramming your day with an impossible list of things to accomplish – Allow time for reflection, for exercise, for conversation with your family, for a relaxed meal. Be realistic about the number of minutes in a day. Prioritize, what is really feasible today? Ask for help, delegate responsibilities at work and home. When you try to be a superhero too often you find yourself depleted and resentful. Dodge those pitfalls by creating time for yourself.
Pay attention to your body, it is very wise – When you are tired, take a short nap. Like a car without gas or oil, your body needs fuel. Take the time to eat, not in the car or at your desk, but to eat with presence. Exercise, this can be a wonderful way to get out of your head. Breathe some fresh air, take a walk, a jog, a bike ride and focus on your breath.
Cultivate a small-town mentality – even if you are living in the center of a bustling city. What is small town mentality? It is slowing down long enough to say hi to the mail carrier, to notice the afternoon breeze or the soft tapping of rain on the window. It is bringing over cookies or flowers to a neighbor or simply saying hello to people. It is being part of the community you live in, acknowledging others.
Once you slow down, you’ll notice a new awareness settling in. You will have more energy, life will feel fuller and more rewarding. Gifting yourself with a slower pace will cultivate clarity, and garner new perspectives on life.