How to Finally Slow Down. It Will Change Your Life.by Elise Museles
I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. Sometimes it feels like there’s a giant competition to see who’s the most overwhelmed and stressed out. The finish line of to-dos and commitments is often so far out of sight that even though we crave down time, being busy has become somewhat of a badge of honor. How often have you greeted a friend, then asked how she is doing, only to hear, “Busy!”
Still, I think most of us would agree that we’d prefer to be less busy. White space and minimalism are trendy right now, and we strive to make our homes as clutter-free as possible. Yet when it comes to clearing out our crazy calendars and creating more restful time in our lives, it’s still a work in progress for many. And even though we instinctively understand that slowing down is good for our minds and our bodies, we don’t always make the leap from knowing to doing.
If you’ve been around a while, you know that this isn’t the first time that I’ve shared this topic. In fact, I spent many years hiding in my busy. And while I understand first hand about all the benefits of slowing down, I readily admit that I haven’t quite mastered that more relaxed pace all the time. However, when I am able to take things a little more leisurely, I experience my days through a completely different lens. And I want to shout from the rooftops, “Stop rushing through your life at warp speed. There’s a better way to live.”
So, I wrote this post for you (and for me) because there isn’t a green juice or superfood in the world that can nourish your whole being in the same way that slowing down can.
Why slow down?
When you’re overworked, you feel short-tempered, rushed, unhappy, and overwhelmed. These feelings can translate into undesirable habits that include overeating, skipping meals, inability to sleep well, and indulging in quick fixes like caffeine, sugar, or alcohol. The stress of constant hustling isn’t exactly pleasant, but the consequences are actually even deeper than discomfort. Being stressed actually increases your cortisol levels, and increased cortisol levels may impact your weight, interfere with your memory, and even lower your immune function.
When you slow down, the opposite is true: you tune into your body, and as your cortisol levels drop, it positively affects your metabolism, improves your immunity, and benefits your overall health. Learning to be fully present connects you to your body during meal times (and beyond) so that you can nourish it with exactly what it needs.
All this makes giving up our addiction to the fast lane not just important, but absolutely essential. If you’re ready to stop waiting for “someday” and start TO-day on your slow-down journey, here’s how to take the leap from knowing to doing:
Acknowledge it will be uncomfortable – then do it anyway
At first, deliberately creating white space in your life may feel uncharacteristic; it often involves turning away opportunities you might otherwise automatically say yes to.
Personally, I’m all but incapable of having an open time slot in my calendar. My mind instantly goes to ways to fill it. (Client support! Writing! Stocking the freezer with extra snacks for my family!) But if I don’t make myself a priority, I have less to give to others – and those blank spaces are actually full of valuable “nothing” time that’s critical for my self-care.
Today, I try to think of those blank spaces as actual appointments with myself. Even if it’s just 15 quiet minutes a day, this is how to start the practice. The more you allow yourself to be quiet, the less foreign it will feel over the long haul, no matter how strange it may seem at first.
Adopt a ritual
Rituals help us pause to connect and appreciate the here and now. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or even outside the boundaries of your everyday life; it is simply something you do often and with intention.
My personal favorite is preparing a latte (iced or hot) in the middle of the afternoon. Taking the time to warm the mixture, select the spices, prepare the drink, and savor each sip unplugs me and automatically slows me down. Sometimes I bring my meal or snack outside for an instant change of scenery. Just about any moment in your day can be elevated into an actual experience that reminds you to pause.
Learn to breathe intentionally
A simple breathing practice—not even as formal as meditation—takes only a few moments. When you feel especially overwhelmed or stressed out, focus on your breath. Inhale to the count of four, hold for a count of four, and then exhale out for a count of four. Try doing this just a few times and notice how your body responds. Starting with a single breath can fully transform the moment from harried to hallowed.
Get comfortable with “no”
This is huge and so difficult for us people pleasers! But the more we say no to activities that no longer serve us, the more space and time we have to just be (and the more time we will have to do the things that we complain we don’t have time for.) For many of us, saying no isn’t even in our vocabulary, so start small. Think of one thing today that you can decline, delete, or postpone – then do it. See how your body relaxes once you are able to release that commitment or responsibility.
Intentionally slowing down might feel foreign at first, but know this: a slower life is a healthier, more centered life, and your hurried mind and body will thank you. And once you finally commit, you’ll be taking the very fist step in creating a happier (and more satisfying!) Food Story.
Now it’s your turn: Which of these practices will you try first? Make a promise to yourself to adopt just one, and share your intentions in the comments. Let’s hold one another accountable – and finally put those slow-down plans into action.