What do you see when you look out of your window? People passing by, hurrying from one place to another. Then there are probably cars crossing your view, always pushing forward, always running late. And I sometimes find myself in a position when I want to tell those people to slow down a bit, just for a moment. I am pretty aware of the fact that I am really not the best person to tell other people what to do in that case. Let me tell you why, maybe you’ll find yourself in that.
Slow down, damn it!
For a start, I am terrible at the whole ‘slow down’ thing. Honestly! And here I am, giving you tips for doing exactly that. So, I have the habit to plan my whole day ahead and pack it full of things and I usually end up having little to no time for myself. Spending time with my boyfriend is of course essential to me, and maybe you’re as lucky as I am (actually no, no one is).
But apart from this, I rarely have a moment to myself, and even if I do, I seem to think about the next thing to do. It’s a vicious cycle really. Even right now I have a free day, I am alone, and I could really relax and do nothing for a change. Instead, I am working on this text and thinking about what to write, which photos would fit etc. etc. etc. It’s not always like this, but most of the time.
This is the reason I am writing this, as a sort of self-therapy thing where I write about it and maybe actually try to follow my own tips. Maybe I do! So, I went on the net and conducted some research on how to slow down, maybe see what others recommend. Of course, I have my own little techniques but it’s always good to try something new, right?
Walk half speed
I guess everyone knows the feeling when you forget the time and start hurrying to your work/a date/an appointment. However, it’s actually rather easy to solve such problems and slow down at the same time. Just try to leave the house ten minutes earlier, and you’ll have time to walk half speed. But what for? For a start, you can enjoy the weather (if it’s nice) and really notice your surroundings for the first time. You can look around, see the people, hear the birds, listen to your own breathing. Besides, walking half speed can really reduce your stress level and you have more than enough stress in this fast world.
Do one thing tomorrow, not today
This is so essential for me! Because I am so used to packing my day full of things, I seem to have no time to slow down and calm down. And whenever I have a moment with nothing to do, I think about how to fill it most productively. Crazy isn’t it? So here’s what you have to do: If you still want to do something in a spare five minutes, and it’s not that important, do it the next day. Working hurriedly never ends well, and it might royally ruin your mood.
Make yourself a cup of tea
Making a cup of tea is a ritual for me, and I guess for so many people in the world as well. If you don’t like tea, this works with every kind of hot beverage (like Chai Latte). Because drinking something hot can never be done quickly, you’re virtually forced to slow down. Great, isn’t it? So every time you make a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate, take your time. Sip. Do nothing else than drinking that hot beverage, and you immediately calm down. Trust me.
One thing at a time.
Whenever you feel the urge to multi-task, stop. Then take a deep breath and consciously tell yourself to do that thing you thought of later. If you have a piece of paper at hand, write down what you wanted to do, look up if you you’re anxious to forget it. It is so unhealthy to do so many things at the same time, and of course I catch myself doing exactly that. For example, I have the tendency to turn on the TV whenever I eat for myself. This way, I unconsciously eat faster, and that important feeling of satiety does not really come. This is just one example, but multi-tasking can really stress you because you can never do one thing for 100%.
Put that phone far, far away.
I bet that you don’t want to hear it, but your phone is keeping you on edge. At least I know it from me, because every time I want to do one task, I get distracted by that little thing. Whenever I watch TV, my phone is close at hand. Whenever I read a book, I get an idea and need to grab that phone to have a look. Actually, this point is closely related to the previous one, because your phone keeps you from concentrating on one thing. And doing more than one thing at a time can really stress your brain!
In case of a panic attack, people are usually told to breathe into a paper bag until their heart rate normalises. Although we all don’t have panic attacks all the time, breathing is still essential for us to reduce stress. So, whenever you find yourself speeding up and stressing out, stop and take a deep breath. Maybe even count to ten in your head. Then take a few more deep breaths, feel the air fill and leave your lungs. Really focus on each breath that you take, and feel the stress leave your body. This is really an essential way to slow down!
Read a book.
Do you know the sensation of time passing by in a magical way when reading a good book (currently reading this one by the way)? I have always loved to escape reality and dive head-first into a new one. Because it gives me the feeling that I could leave all of the stress and problems behind, basically emptying my head in this time. So, we can use that feeling to give ourselves a short (or longer) timeout from reality, and maybe start with a fresh mind-set afterwards.
The best way of getting yourself to slow down? Doing nothing. Okay, it may be the most difficult way of doing that for some people. Maybe it’s easier for others. Basically all you have to do is putting away everything that’s distracting you, sit down, and do nothing. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. Try to think nothing (almost impossible) or try to concentrate on one thing. For example, breathing techniques can help (see point 6) or listening to relaxation music. Well, that’s actually not doing nothing, but it can help you get to that state. Doing nothing is not being lazy! In this case, it’s taking care of yourself.
Maybe you want to try some of these things and tell me how they worked for you!