June’s Tiny Change: Slow Downby Elise Museles
If you’re just joining us, this post is part of my year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change – over a year, it really adds up! You can read about it here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges. (Did I mention that there are lots of theme-related GIVEAWAYS each month?! Read on!)
When was the last time you did … nothing? Can you remember window shopping without an agenda? Or taking the dog for a walk just because the weather was nice? Or really, actually stopping to smell the [gorgeous, blooming-right-now] roses?
Doing nothing can be surprisingly difficult! So many of us hide in our busy. We love crossing things off our to-do lists, and getting as much done in a day as possible. We feel accomplished and clever when we manage to eat our lunch bowl while replying to emails. The reality is that we’ve found ways to multitask just about every moment of every day.
But being constantly scheduled, plugged in, and “on” isn’t healthy or sustainable. It’s not good for our bodies, our minds, or our relationships.
This is usually the part of the #12tinychanges post where I assure you that this tiny change is really easy and totally doable. And while slowing down is doable, it will require more from you than some of our past challenges, such as doing it yourself, starting the day in a powerful way, getting more sleep, or eating more color. This change requires you to really commit, mentally and emotionally, to not committing. Although it might feel counterintuitive to “make time” for down time, it’s just as valuable a part of your schedule as those bustling, busy hours. (Maybe even more valuable!)
Ready to slow down a bit? Here are five ways that you can ease the pace of your life just a little.
It’s hard to slow down if our calendars are filled with obligations and meetings, but when we say “no” to things that don’t excite us, we get to say “yes” to ourselves and to better self-care.
This month, let’s politely, diplomatically turn down requests or obligations that just don’t feel right! (You know when our bodies tell us “no,” but we say “yes” anyway?) Can you coordinate the fundraiser for the lacrosse team? No. Can you attend your second cousin’s wedding on the other side of the country? No. Can you meet someone for coffee so they can pick your brain about business matters they could easily Google? No. You get the point!
If you’re not quite sure how to say no, check out this set of 10 scripts for how to (nicely) say no to just about anything. When you make your time your own again, you empower yourself to control the pace of your day again.
Schedule unstructured time into your calendar
Yes, really. Open your calendar right now, look at today, find a 20-minute window and schedule some Do Nothing Time. And when that calendar notification pops up, treat it the same way you’d treat a meeting notification: step away from your desk and then go do nothing.
Cuddle your pet. Lay in your backyard and stare at the sky. Take an aimless walk through the neighborhood. Make yourself a matcha latte and savor it on the patio. Page through family photos. Whatever you do, resist the urge to turn this unstructured time into I’ll Just Clean Up The Kitchen Time or I’ll Just Throw In Another Load Of Laundry Time.
If you find yourself doing something when you should be doing nothing, take a few deep breaths, re-center yourself, put down the task, and go do nothing again. Don’t worry! The laundry will still be there when your Do Nothing Time is over. And if you need a little support to quiet your mind and soothe your thoughts, non-traditional forms of meditation may help to get you in the zone.
Try doing something the “old fashioned” (or “less convenient”) way
There’s something incredibly satisfying about accomplishing things without technology. What if you explored a new city using an actual, paper map and asking locals for their recommendations? What if you mixed your brownies with a big wooden spoon and a bit of elbow grease instead of relying on the food processor? What about spending the day at a pick-your-own farm or orchard, plucking fruits and vegetables, instead of grabbing them at the store?
When we choose to put away our phones and use our minds and bodies (instead of smartphone apps or kitchen appliances), we reconnect with life and the world around us.
Do one thing at a time
Maybe you usually listen to podcasts on your daily walk or catch up on email between quarters of your daughter’s soccer game. Whether it’s calling friends from the car when you have a long drive ahead or using meal times to check in on social media, chances are, you’re doing more than one thing at once.
What if you did just one of those things with that time? The walk or the podcast, the email or the soccer game, the meal or Instagram? Multitasking feels good (I get it!), but it’s not always as effective as devoting your time and energy to just one task. In fact, it’s been proven that multitasking results in lower quality work, and it takes us longer to complete a task when we spread our attention too thin.
Literally, physically slow down
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself speed walking around my house with my shoulders up around my ears for no real reason. If I feel stressed about publishing my blog posts on time or getting a meal on the table for the family when I have “so much to do,” I start speaking in rushed, clipped tones and taking quick, shallow breaths.
Often, we can change the way we feel emotionally by changing the way we feel physically. I can calm my mind by releasing my shoulders, taking deep breaths, and choosing to speak and move with intent. Next time you feel stressed, check in with your body and choose to move, breathe, and speak a bit slower. It may seem awkward, but you’ll be surprised by how different you’ll feel, almost at once!
Slowing down can be tricky. It’s easy to fill our schedules back up after we’ve emptied them or fall back into the pattern of multitasking. But when you learn to master your pace, you regain control of every aspect of your life. Remember, a slower life is a healthier, more centered life, and your hurried body and mind will thank you. I know mine does.
To help make this change more interesting and doable, I’ve teamed up with some incredible partners for awesome giveaways this month. (Think: the popular Be Well Cleanse by Dr. Frank Lipman(!) to help rejuvenate and nourish the body as you slow down, two signed copies of Valerie Gangas‘ Enlightenment Is Sexy to learn how to turn inwards and live life from the inside out, membership to Grace Smith TV to get tools to release stress & calm the mind…and more.) Follow along on Instagram for updates!
Together, let’s put the brakes on our harried lives so that we can sloooooow waaay dowwwwwn.
In the comments, share one way you will change the pace and get away from all the busyness? Let’s inspire one another to make this month’s change!