Slowing Down

Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always an easy one, but it leads to a greater appreciation for life and living.

Choose one of these and do for a 3-day stretch. Then add another one and do 2 of these for the following 3-days. Continue this pattern adding one in each 3 day session until the list  has been completed (18 days).

1. Do less. Difficult to slow down when you are trying to multi task. On average, we have 140 things we could/should be doing. Overwhelming!! So, make the choice to do less. Focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Add some free time between tasks and appointments so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace.

2. Disconnect. Don’t always be virtually connected. If you carry around an iPhone or Android, shut it off. Better yet, learn to leave it behind whenever possible. If you work on a computer, have times when you are disconnected so you can focus on other things. Being connected/online means we are subject to interruptions, we are on information overload, constantly stressed, we are at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to slow down when you are always checking for new messages.

3. Focus on people. Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues and we are not really with them in the moment. We talk to them, but are constantly distracted. We may be there physically, but our minds are on things we need to do. We listen, but we are really thinking about ourselves. None of us are immune to this, however, with conscious effort we can shut off the outside world and be in the present moment with the person we are with. Spending time spent with your family and friends can go a long way — incidentally, a much more affective use of your time.

4. Appreciate nature. Take the time to go outside and really observe nature. Take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and the beauty of life. Exercise outdoors when you can, or find other outdoor activities to enjoy such as nature walks, hiking, biking, skiing, swimming, etc. Feel the sensations of water, sun, wind and earth against your skin. Try to do this daily either by yourself or with loved ones.

5. Eat slower. Instead of gobbling up food as quickly as possible — thus  leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food — savour each morsel. Be mindful of eating. Appreciate the flavors and textures. Chewing slowly has the double benefit of making you feel fuller on less food and making the food taste better.

6. Find pleasure in anything. This is related to living in the moment, but taking it a step further. Whatever you  are doing, be fully present … and become more aware. For example, when washing dishes, instead of rushing through it as a boring chore to be finished quickly, really feel the sensations of the water, the suds, the dishes. It can really be an enjoyable task. The same applies to other chores — find something enjoyable/positive in housekeeping chores, shoveling the snow, washing the car, picking up dry cleaning. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit of simply doing.

7. Single-task. The opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe, and pull yourself back.

8. Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause, and take a deep breath, slow yourself down until you feel de-stressed. Experience the air coming into your body, and feel the stress going out. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present moment, and slowly take control of yourself.