Ever had a conversation with a friend that went something like this?
“How are things?”
“Good, thanks! Really busy at the moment!”
We’re all busy. Sometimes ‘busy’ seems to be a constant state of mind.
We live in a chaotic world. Days are filled with jobs, children, grandchildren, homes, chores, events and celebrations, even planning for retirement can lead to us feeling overwhelmed, without actually taking the time to stop and be mindful of where we are and what we are doing. Every so often, it’s incredibly useful for both the body and mind to take your foot off the gas and just slow things down.
Here are some simple ways to slow down:
Organize your day the night before
To avoid starting the day with high levels of stress, prepare and organize your day before you go to bed the night before. Pack bags and lunches, write a simple to-do list, get your clothes out and ready and prepare breakfast ideas such as overnight oats. Knowing that your morning is going to be much easier may help you to sleep better too!
Intentionally wake up earlier
This may seem counterproductive to some – surely staying in bed longer will help to decrease stress levels? Not necessarily. By setting your alarm earlier than usual – between 15 – 30 minutes – you may find that you have more time to yourself to ease into your day at a slower pace, rather than rushing around as soon as you wake up and it gives us the ability to be in control of our day right from the beginning. These extra minutes will also allow you the time to do something that will help to boost energy levels – light exercise like yoga or pilates, meditation and breathing exercises, reading a chapter in your favorite book, eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast.
If you don’t work in an outdoors environment it’s possible that you feel your day is spent moving from one building to another. Something as simple as getting some fresh air can really help to slow things down – a walk outside during your lunchtime can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and increase focus and concentration. While outside, try and take some time to be mindful of where you are by taking deep breaths, looking at the sky and listening to the sounds around you – it will make all the difference to your day!
Develop some self-care techniques… and use them!
Taking some time that is solely for yourself is a great way to slow things down and reset. The benefits of a self-care day can help to reduce stress levels, clear the mind and should include anything that makes you happy – reading, writing, exercising, taking a long hot soak in the bath etc. Regardless of how ‘busy’ you are, try and take some time every week just to focus on some ‘me time.’
Spend more time with people that make you happy
Some of my happiest times are spent with those who make me laugh and lift me up. Being able to sit and chat with family and friends is a great way to slow things down – with the development in technology and video calls it is possible to do this without even needing to leave the house! Make sure that you are completely present during these moments – listen to what they are saying, turn off your phone and avoid leaving to answer work calls.
Do one thing at a time
Multi-tasking is somewhat of a myth. Trying to complete two tasks at once (or even thinking about the next task before you have completed the current one) is not productive and actually slows you down even more in the long term, often making you feel more stressed and pressured. Instead, put your complete focus into what you are doing at that moment and do one task at a time.
Reduce your technology and TV time
Many of us are permanently mentally stimulated by technology – phones, tablets, computers – as soon as we wake up. Similarly, many turn on their TV’s for hours after work in the evenings. Instead, slow down by reducing your tech and TV time, turning all devices off for 30 minutes and doing nothing except deep breathing and relaxation exercises. Remember, it’s okay to do nothing.
Be mindful during mealtimes and eat slowly
Do you try to rush through lunch so you can get back to work? Or are you reading and replying to emails while you eat? Watching TV while eating dinner that evening? As well as risking indigestion, you are missing out on the perfect opportunity to slow down and take stock of your day so far. Allow yourself to take your time and practice mindful eating – chewing slowly, putting your cutlery down in between bites, drinking water in between, savouring and enjoy your food so that you can resume work in a calmer, more productive frame of mind or spend time with those at home during mealtimes.
Do less and learn to say no
This may seem rather obvious, but it can be difficult to slow down when there is simply so much to do, all the time. If you are feeling as though you are struggling to complete your daily schedule, there is a simple solution – cut back on that schedule. Are there things that really need to be done today? Prioritise the most important items on your to-do list, but accept there is a limit to what you can physically do within a day. Learn to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t a priority and get your partner and children involved helping with chores around the house.
Allow for spontaneity
Not everything has to be planned – sometimes, the most enjoyable activities can be completely spontaneous. If you have some spare time allow yourself to slow down and see where the day takes you! Be present and mindful and leave it up to the universe.
Small changes that you can make throughout the day will really help to slow things down, but won’t necessarily reduce your productivity levels. Start by making one small thing a habit and building on it as you go along!