The Art of Slowing Down

My 3 Week Journey Learning How To Chill Out

the-art-of-slowing-down

Everything is happening so fast around us all the time. The months and years will not stop flying by (especially as I get older). I always thought this was some wacky thing my parents used to say, but it’s legit. As my days become more filled with work, emails, social media, stress, bills, and all the other daily nonsense, I find it so hard to just stop and breathe. This type of daily pace is not only exhausting, but it can be an issue to your health as well. I have been working on making a conscious effort to slow down and I wanted to share not only the things that I am trying out, but also some of the things that people around me like to do! I am not here to tell anyone the “top 10 ways to slow down in life” and that those ways are the only way and to DO IT NOW. That’s not me and definitely not my style. So, this series will provide my process for learning to slow down and what worked for me and what didn’t! I hope you all enjoy!

WEEK 1

MAKING GOOD HABITS

Happiness should be found in everyday moments, and I think about how much happiness I’m missing out on because I’m in too much of a hurry. My latest adventures on Instagram have revealed to me that not only am I stressing my daily to-do list, but now I have added an extra layer of stress. I have to tell myself to put my phone down and I swear it’s like trying to take candy away from a kid. I feel that I miss out on so much because I’m so absorbed in myself, what’s going on in my life, why people are treating me a certain way, what I have to do this week, what am I going to post on the grams, and all of the other stuff that feels so critical on a daily basis.

For week 1 of my three-week experiment on slowing down, I wanted to focus on setting myself up for success! I spent some time evaluating where I am spending my time most days. It’s truly crazy how much time I’m wasting on really meaningless activities that I think are important. Realizing this helped me set up my focuses for week 1. I personally found that the following three things helped me not only clear up my calendar a bit, but also helped me stay motivated and chill the hell out every day.

Say No

I wanted to start with this one not only because it is hard to do, but also if slowing down is something that I want to start doing, then I am definitely going to have to remember that my time is just as important as others. Why do we have so much guilt saying no to people? I think it’s often due to fear and the desire to please others. There are people in this world who give and give to everyone around them, including all of their time. I think that says amazing things about their character and the heart that they have, but I also think that this can wear you down so much that you eventually lose yourself in everyone else’s world.  Think about how much time you would have for yourself and the things you are passionate about if you said no to things you just didn’t want to do. You don’t owe anyone anything! This can free up some personal time for you and wouldn’t that shit be NICE!  However, I do think it’s important to remember to not be closed-minded and shut off from the world. So, don’t be throwing around the NO word all day, every day; that’s just as unhealthy as saying yes to everything. You won’t get anywhere doing that. It’s time to stop guilting yourself because you told someone you couldn’t make it to an event that you just aren’t passionate about or to have yet another cocktail that you just don’t feel like having. Think about how often people tell you no, most of the time you don’t give it much thought or take it too personally. Your friends, family, and co-workers will understand because, trust me, they say no too!

Be Present

I can’t with this one. I struggle with it every day. For me, this is just as important, if not more important than learning to say no. How can you even try or learn to slow down on a daily basis if you aren’t present? I don’t remember where I saw it, but I watched a video a few years ago about how people like to think that they are AWESOME multitaskers and how we pride ourselves on that trait. Multitasking has become such a big deal that people ask this question in job interviews! The study found that there really is no such thing as “multitasking.” If you are working on multiple tasks, the brain is naturally only able focus on one task, meaning the others suffer. I think they tested it with driving, which is the worst space to feel like you are a great multitasker. So, think about all the times you were sitting with a friend having a discussion while you were “multitasking.” What suffered? It was likely your ability to be present and active in the conversation.

Being present, to me, is being mindful and aware of the people and places around you. This can be said for so many things: being on your phone too much, not actively listening, thinking about your long list of things to do, thinking about what you could have or should have done with that situation at work, and anything that removes you from being present in that moment. I actively have to tell myself when traveling to put my camera down. I get so wrapped up thinking about getting the perfect picture or making sure my settings are right that I end up not having much of a memory of the moment. When you truly allow yourself to be involved in a conversation or place, it’s amazing how much more you can take in. It does require some serious practice and a constant reminder to stop what you are doing and pay attention. I like to think about people I know who, when I am with them, are so present in what we are doing. It creates better connections between people and the places you are in. It almost makes me feel like my senses are heightened and that person or place burns a memory in my mind and soul. I don’t know about you, but I want to feel that way in every moment, and I want people to feel that way about the time they spend with me. Get out of your head enjoy what’s going on around you!

Get Off Your Phone!

My life lately is consumed with all things social, funny too because I am not an overly social person (I really have that saying “no” thing down). It’s all about the creepin’ and just admit it, that’s what we’re all doing. Harmless creeping on Instagram or Facebook is the surest way to miss out on all the things YOU have going on in your life. If you’re looking to slow down on the regular, then you’ll need to remove yourself from the daily social grind for some time each week. I know some people like to put their phone away a couple of hours before bed. I love this idea too because you can unwind from your day, relax, and reflect on all the goings-on that day. This one is going to be hard for me because I enjoy lying in bed and cruising the gram. The problem is, I do the same thing so much during the day that the last thing I need is to do that as soon as I get in bed. You could also try putting your phone away during times you should be focused and present. We miss so much because we are texting someone while at dinner with friends, looking at an email when we are walking to get coffee, or taking selfie after selfie when we are visiting somewhere cool! I want to feel like a present member of humanity and I don’t want to feel like one of those people who looks like their getting sucked into their phone. The world is an amazingly beautiful place, and why the shit would you want to keep your nose buried in your phone or view the world through the lens of your iPhone when you can see and experience it more fully?! I really recommend trying this one out.

I am going work hard on taking some positive steps towards practicing these new found good habits this week. I will update everyone next week on what worked and what didn’t. I am also posting the second part of the series next week. It will mostly be focused on incorporating some positive activities into my schedule now that I am learning to clear up some time to slow down.

What does your week 1 list look like? Where are you spending time on unnecessary stressors? I would love to hear from you all!

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6 Comments

  1. I learned presence when I was in my early 30’s. I happened to be home with two small kids everyday and my mind was in a tangle. I had worked and juggled everything for years that it took me at least six minutes maths to stop trying to manage and start paying attention to my thoughts, actions and tasks. I got zen folding laundry and cooking dinner, reading aloud to the babies and just watching them play. It’s harder to unplug now, but I’m trying to keep my laptop in another room and put my phone down every evening.

    • It really has become such a big focus for me this year with everything that has been going on. I love how you found zen! I am excited to get into that part of this process next week. I feel like the little things will really help me check out

  2. Saying no is an important step to setting boundaries. It’s hard to do at first but gets easier with time as you see how you loose the pressure to please others

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