In a fast paced world filled with endless opportunities to stay on the go, slowing down can feel challenging, sometimes nearly impossible. However, slowing down is necessary for our well-being and our mental clarity. We are often so accustomed to a hurry up and go lifestyle, rest sometimes feels antithetical or impossible.
It’s easy to feel like there’s always too much to do and never enough time. But in the words of Lao Tzu, “nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Maybe there is a lesson to be learned for all of us in these words of wisdom? Here are three tips for slowing down in our day to day lives.
Establish Work Life Boundaries
With so many of us working from home these days, it’s even easier than before to get buried in work. Particularly when it feels like there’s not as many other activities to engage in, why not keep working right? Wrong. It’s more important than ever to establish good boundaries for work and to be intentional about turning off the laptop and disconnecting from work for the day. Just because our work stations may now double as our kitchen tables or be in our bedrooms, doesn’t mean we don’t need to set good boundaries.
Perhaps set a ritual that signifies the end of the work day and work towards being present with whatever you are engaging in next - whether it be a movement practice, catching up with family or friends, making dinner, reading for pleasure, or watching some Netflix. Just because many of us aren’t physically leaving our workspace, doesn’t mean we are unable to disconnect. Rest is vital to our well being. In the words of Nap Ministry, a social media platform that examines the liberation power of naps, “Rest is a beautiful interruption in a world that has no pause button.” Be intentional about taking time to pause.
Take a Break from Social Media
Social media is a double edge sword. It’s wonderful for sharing information, connecting with new people, and watching funny videos and memes. However, on the other side, it can also lead us into the comparison trap, where we begin to view other people’s lives and feel like we aren’t doing enough, accomplishing enough, or working hard enough. We may also find ourselves growing dissatisfied with our own lives as we compare our worst to other people’s highlight reels.
When we are feeling overwhelmed or fraught with anxiety, taking a social media hiatus can provide a lot of mental reprieve. Taking a few hours, or better yet, a few days off goes a long way in providing mental clarity while also helping us slow down and be present.
Make Time for Pleasure
It’s so easy for us to get caught in our obligations that we can forget to prioritize making time for pleasure. Making it a priority to engage in activities that bring us pleasure, whether it be reading, watching movies, getting into nature, a movement practice, sex, or cooking foods that we enjoy, is absolutely necessary for mental clarity and self-care. Nourishing our souls and prioritizing pleasure reminds us to slow down and enjoy life. There will always be another task on the to-do list. If we wait until we finish all our tasks, we may very well spend our entire lives never making time for the things that bring us happiness. Seeking joy deserves to be a priority in our lives.
One more bonus tip that is simple, actionable, and can be used in a pinch as a reminder to slow down — remember to breathe. If you are feeling your mind rushing with anxiety-inducing thoughts, take a few minutes to engage in deep breathing. Deeply inhale calm and peace and exhale stress and anxiety.
In a world that feels like it's constantly go go go, taking steps to ensure mental clarity and intentionally slow down is an important part of self preservation. In the words of Eddie Cantor, “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”