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 next 3-days. And you guessed it right, on the 3rd iteration, add the #3 and add to the first two you did over 6-days,

1. Do less. Difficult to slow down when you are trying to do a many things. On average, we have 140 things we could/should be doing. Instead, 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 virtual connected. If you carry around an iPhone or Android, shut it off. Better yet, learn to leave it behind when 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’re subject to interruptions, we’re on information overload, constantly stressed, we are at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to slow down when you’re always checking for new messages.

3. Focus on people. Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues, and we’re 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’re really thinking about ourselves. None of us are immune to this, but with conscious effort we can shut off the outside world and be in the present moment with the person you’re with. Spending time spent with your family and friends can go a long way — a much more affective use of your time, by the way.

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 and wind and earth against your skin. Try to do this daily by yourself or with loved ones.

5. Eat slower. Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible — leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food — savour each more slowly. Be mindful of eating. Appreciate the flavors and textures. Chewing slowly has the double benefit of making you 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 farther. Whatever you’re 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 — washing the shovelling, sweeping, dusting, laundry. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit.

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. 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 slow take control of yourself.