Photo: The Mindful Company
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
We’ve talked about the benefits of slowing down from time to time but how easy is it to really practise it in our lives? Deep down we may feel a shift in our priorities and values but a conscious effort is needed to put it into practice.
Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean taking drastic steps like quitting your job, throwing away your phone and living on a farm. It’s about finding a good balance amidst the world’s obsession with speed. Here are 5 practical ways that can help.
Prioritise what’s most important and let go of the rest. This may sound difficult but here are 2 ways to get around it:
• Evaluate: Doing a thousand things at once does nothing for quality and effectiveness. For each thing on your to-do list, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Find out what’s most important to you (you have to come up with a criteria for yourself) and let go of the rest. Saying no when you need to is an essential practice in self-care.
• Practise single-tasking: Doing one thing at a time increases clarity, efficiency and reduces stress.
Ever feel social media fatigue? You’re not alone. Disconnecting is a way to slow down. It allows you to recharge, increase your focus and productivity as well as reduce stress. There are simple and realistic ways to disconnect while still enjoying the benefits of technology.
A conscious practice to be present in every moment allows you to enjoy life more. Taking just a minute to find appreciation for the present moment is a way of slowing down. Eat mindfully. Drive slowly. Be fully present when you’re with people. As you do this more, it gradually becomes a way of being. The American poet Mary Oliver illustrates this beautifully: “Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”
When you observe that you’re hurrying purposelessly or feeling stressed, take deep breaths and focus entirely on inhaling and exhaling. Notice how you feel. There is no real rush for most things—we are just wired to feel that way. Take the time out to regroup and find calm.
Be in nature
Research shows that natural environments refocus our attention, lessens stress and provides healing. In short, being in nature is great for our mental and physiological well-being. Go to the park or beach as often as possible. If that’s not convenient, appreciate the nature around you daily—the sky, the trees. It’s a great reminder that beauty can be found if we take time to look for it.
This article was first published on The Mindful Company.