Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.
– Alexandra Stoddard.
We love to be busy. In today’s world, being busy is a badge of honour that so many of us proudly wear. We compete with one another over who is the busiest and who has the most to do. I’m not sure if it’s human nature or a sign of changing times.
Stress is another buzzword that has seeped into our daily vocabulary. Despite its negative connotations, many of us have started to equate being stressed with being successful. And it’s easy to see why.
In a world where we’re always on the go, striving to do and be better, to step up the next rung of the career ladder and always chasing goals, slowing down is not an option. Huge to-do lists dominate our daily lives, rushing around is the new norm and being stressed has become glamorous.
So many of us have these ideas ingrained into our minds of what makes us a failure. If you’re not hopped up on caffeine and ready to go, you’re a failure. If you clocked out of work on time, you’re a failure. If you came into work on time, you’re a failure. If you have a lie in or go to bed early, if you skip a workout, if you order takeout instead of eating salad, if you miss a day of laundry, then you’re a failure.
I felt tired just writing that list. So god knows it’s exhausting to actually try and do it all.
I’m certainly not free to the allure of being busy. I love to feel like I’m achieving and getting things ticked off a never-ending to do list. I berate myself for having too much to do, but then feel guilty if I spend an evening watching TV. It’s constant pressure, and I know I’m not alone in these feelings.
The art of slowing down is a lost one. Have you ever tried to spend 10 minutes in Savasana? Also known as ‘corpse pose’, this beauty is reserved for the end of yoga class, and it involves lying on your back, and staying perfectly still. All you have to do is breathe.
I find Savasana a real challenge. My mind wanders and I’m already planning what I’m going to do when I get home or overthinking that conversation I had earlier. Even my mum can’t do a two minute Savasana when she does a yoga video online. We simply can’t lie still and do nothing.
In Savasana, it’s impossible to run away from your thoughts. Your feelings, your emotions, and your fears. And that’s what happens when we slow down. It forces us to consider what’s happening around us and to us, and face it head on. There’s no more distractions and nowhere to hide, and it is for exactly that reason that I advocate slowing down.
Slowing down, or even stopping for an hour or so, is not a weakness. If anything it’s a strength, and a real indicator of your character. So if you really want to get in touch with the real you or access your emotions, slow it down.
Time may be precious, and we may always be desperate to accomplish as much as possible as quickly as possible, all the damn time. But, as the age old adage says, no one ever looks back on their deathbed and wishes they had worked more.
What they wish for instead is that they had travelled more, read more books, laughed harder, loved deeper, and lived wilder.
How to slow down
- Skip your HIIT workout or 10km run, and try a swim or gentle bike ride instead.
- Swap your Bikram yoga class for a more flowing and relaxing practice.
- Read. The simple pleasure of picking up a book and absorbing what’s written on a page is incredible.
- Switch your phone off. Or at least put it on silent.
- Spend time with the one you love. If you’re in a relationship, just hold each other and whisper. Or have sex. Or kiss. Just connect with them.
- Do something with your hands – bake, cook, draw, paint, write, do a jigsaw. Anything that gets your mind working in a completely different way.
If all else fails, and you start to get overwhelmed, or you’re trying to force yourself to slow down and the anxiety takes over. Just breathe. Lengthen your inhales and exhales, and let the pure oxygen flow through your body and restore your energy. It’s like hitting an invisible reset button.
You have my permission to slow down.