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SLOWING DOWN - PART 7

30/03/2012

Slowing down strategies

What are some simple strategies to help you naturally slow down?

In last week’s article in the series SLOWING DOWN we looked at the tell-tale signs of being busy. To read this article click here.

There’s always something to do … always something to justify you having no time in the day for yourself. But you are aware of your tendency to be busy for busyness sake. So how do you instigate change for the better?

Below are some simple strategies to help support a change from a life in the fast lane to a life in the slow lane.

1. Do less

It’s hard to slow down when you are trying to do a million things. Instead, make the conscious choice to do less. Focus on what’s really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace.

2. Be present

It’s not enough to just slow down - you need to actually be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the moment. That means, when you find yourself thinking about something you need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen … gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Focus on what you are doing right now. This takes practice but is essential.

3. Connect with yourself

Shut off your mobile or leave it behind when you want to connect with yourself and create “me” time. Being connected to the computer and phone all the time means you’re subject to interruptions, constantly stressed about information coming in and at the mercy of the demands of others. It’s hard to connect with yourself and slow down when you’re always connected to new messages coming in.

4. Connect to others

Too often we spend time with friends and family, or meet with colleagues and we’re not really there with them. We talk to them but are distracted by devices. We are there, but our minds are on things we need to do. We listen, but we’re really thinking about ourselves and what we want to say. None of us are immune to this, but with conscious effort you can shut off the outside world and just be present with the person you’re with. This means that just a little time spent with your family and friends can go a long way - a much more effective use of your time. It means we really connect with people rather than just meeting with them.

5. Connect with nature

Many of us are shut in our homes and offices and cars and trains most of the time and rarely do we get the chance to go outside. And often even when people are outside, they’re talking on their mobile phones. Instead, take the time to go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the serenity of water and greenery. Feel the sensations of water and wind and earth against your skin.

6. Eat slower

Instead of cramming food down our throats as quickly as possible - leading to overeating and a lack of enjoyment of our food - learn to eat slowly. Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavours and textures. Eating slowly has the double benefit of making you fuller on less food and making the food taste better. You may like to try eating with chop sticks and eat more real food as well, with some great spices (instead of fat and salt and sugar and frying for flavour).

7. Drive slower

Speedy driving is a pretty prevalent habit in our fast-paced world, but it’s also responsible for a lot of traffic accidents, stress and wasted fuel. Instead, make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life and the things you’re passing. Driving will be more enjoyable and much safer. You’ll use less fuel too.

8. Find pleasure in anything

This is related to being present, but taking it a step farther. Whatever you’re doing, be fully present … and also appreciate every aspect of it and find the enjoyable aspects. 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 and the dishes. It can really be an enjoyable task if you learn to see it that way. The same applies to other chores - washing the car, sweeping, dusting, laundry - and anything you do, actually. Life can be so much more enjoyable if you learn this simple habit.

9. 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.

10. Breathe

When you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, pause and take a deep breath. Take a couple more. Really feel 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 and slow yourself down.

You may like to review the series on slowing down:

Part 1: A conscious choice but not an easy one
Part 2: Staying calm in an active world
Part 3: Achieving the same result with minimum effort
Part 4: Regaining the art of silence and ability of non-activity
Part 5: Being slow is not about being lazy
Part 6: Tell-tale signs of being busy