Ugh, at this point in the healing process I’m not sure which is worse – the injury or the crutches. I’ll spare you the gory details of my accident and sum it up to say that I learned a hard lesson in the importance of s l o w i n g down. And while I have your attention, I want to remind you that if you don’t prioritize slowing down, your body might not give you another choice.
If you’ve been around me, you know that I move fast and feel a sense of urgency with even the most mundane tasks. I think it comes from being raised by a single mom who literally did, “not have time, Trin!” for things that could throw us off schedule. That type of parenting helped make me the diligent, focused, solution-oriented woman I am today. And now I’m working on using that same level of focus to sow down and be present.
I’ve had plenty of time off my feet to think about some other reasons behind this sense of urgency. Maybe you can relate?
1. FOMO – Fear of missing out on that IG notification, this call, that text, this event, etc.
2. People-pleasing – Doing so much for others without checking in on my needs.
3. Pride – Trying to be superwoman and not asking for help.
4. Making up for lost time – Trying to squeeze the life out of every experience, especially when it’s something I’ve always wanted. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be draining if I don’t pace myself.
5. Scarcity mindset – Taking on more than I can handle for fear of missing the opportunity, even when I know I’m at capacity and can’t give the opportunity my all.
6. Feeling like I have to “earn” rest – Back in my bodybuilding competitions days, my gym buddies and I would train to earn our rest days after grueling 2-a-day workouts. That is backward thinking. You have the right to rest and relax simply because you are a human being not a human doing. Your very existence allows for rest and time to recharge.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu
Consider these best practices to help you slow down –
Slow at home – Turn chores into mindful moments by focusing on the article of clothing you’re folding, or the countertop you’re wiping or the floors you’re mopping. Scrubbing, organizing and sanitizing can be a time to slow down and tap into your senses – how does the soap smell, how do the dishes feel in your hands, what colors are the clothes you’re folding, what sounds does the vacuum make, etc.? Another way to introduce a slower energy to your home is to add natural elements like wood and stone to your decor. Notice how the energy shifts with the seasons when you leave windows open in crisp Fall temps or wake up naturally before the alarm by letting the sun kiss your face. Curating your home to help you slow down is even more important now that so many of us are still working from home and blending the frantic energy of our workdays with the calm and quiet of our homes.
Slow at work – If you’ve ever arrived at your office early in the morning and produced a days’ worth of work in a few hours, then you know the power of undivided attention. What stands out to you about that time? Were the office lights dim? How many screen tabs did you have open? Did you have time to make your coffee just the way you like and sip it slowly? Did you ease into your inbox without feeling rushed to get to a meeting? Slow living at work means eliminating as much busywork as possible and establishing a work style that allows you to produce on your own time.
Slow with hobbies – Taking a slow approach to how you spend your free time means only saying yes to things that bring you joy. Doing things slower means you can’t cram everything into a full schedule; some things won’t make the list. One of my favorite ways to determine what gets eliminated is to take inventory of your time for one day – how much screen time do you get, how often do you take a break from one screen only to switch to another one, how much of your free time is filled with doing things for other people, how much idle time are you spending avoiding things that need to get done? When you eliminate the background noise, you can take your time on things that matter to you.
Slow with exercise – Take time to breathe, enjoy a longer warm-up and cool down, be strategic with your rest between sets, and take time to re-rack your weights in the gym. Move your body in ways that make you feel fully present even if they aren’t part of your routine. One of my former clients told me the other day of how she started pole dancing to reconnect with her body, even though she loves weightlifting and cycle because they give her the best results. Her new pole dancing classes give her a reason to focus on her body in a different way than she does when lifting weights or speeding through cycle classes.
Slow at mealtimes – Keep mealtimes scared and slow down to enjoy the taste and smell of your food. Avoid eating in front of the tv, shoveling down food as you rush out the door and skipping meals. Nourish your body consistently so that you won’t over-consume out of hunger or boredom. Sip water between bites, put down your utensils until you’ve finished your current bite and create an environment to eat that doesn’t feel rushed.
I hope this post encourages you to find ways to be fully present in your daily life, at times that don’t require urgency.
What steps can you take to slow down today? This week?