What can happen when you decide to slow down? My latest posts have been very much related to meditation and mindfulness, but today I want to take few steps back and discuss more in a general level about the importance of slowing down. What slowing down actually means, how to it and what are its benefits and impact into your life?
I might not be wrong once saying that we desperately need help. We need to make some changes in order to stay healthy and sane. We need to learn to manage our lives in a more sustainable way and at the same time try to cope with everything that’s going on in this world right now.
Unfortunately, the speed of our lives has raised into unrealistic levels with the admiration to have our calendars full with all kinds of important and not so important stuff. We are almost obliged to be available to other people 24/7 thanks to smartphones, and the amount of information we are daily exposed to is insane. Also, the working life admires efficiency, at the same time trying to save in resources. I could go on and on, but you know all of this. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this kind of a non-stop, autopilot, stressful lifestyle without real rest will make us physically and mentally sick sooner or later.
We are not made to live a life like this. When are we going to make real changes, not only talk about how busy and tired we are all the time? In many cases the real change happens only once we are forced to; once some damage has already happened. I wish it was differently, I wish we could finally start to prioritize our wellbeing.
Obviously I cannot change the world, but I can give you at least some tips on how to slow down, not only as a quick fix, but to make it as an important part of your life. Let’s go.
What slowing down means?
What does slowing down really mean? Is it simply to get some rest, lying on the sofa without doing anything? In some cases that can be the correct answer, but slowing down can mean so much more. Slowing down is also very subjective; what can recover one person, is not enough for another.
How I see the meaning of slowing down, it most importantly means giving time to yourself. It doesn’t necessarily mean to be literally slow all the time. Of course, giving time to yourself usually requires to slow the pace a bit but it doesn’t need to be only passive. You recover also by doing things that make you feel good. In other words, slowing down is to allow yourself to fully concentrate on the things you find meaningful. It can be whatever makes you feel recovered; lying on that sofa, going for a walk in the woods, cooking a good meal, reading a book, writing, painting, meditating etc.
Another purpose of slowing down is to give time to your thoughts, emotions and body sensations. To give time and attention to really see, how you are today. Not what you should be doing, what you should be feeling or thinking. Simply deciding to let go of all your to do- lists and responsibilities for a while and giving full attention to the present moment.
How to slow down?
Now you know what I mean by slowing down. But how to do it in the middle of busy days? What are the actual steps you need to take every day? I need to admit that I won’t give you the full answers here. I want you to figure out by yourself what slowing down means for you. But I still suggest you to keep reading as below I’ll give you advise on how you can find it all out.
1. Figure out your why
First, before doing anything, it is essential to figure out why you need or want to slow down. Give time to reflect on this, because before making any changes, it is always good to know the reason why you are doing it. By figuring out your “why”, you ensure that the change will most probably become something permanent.
Of course we can all force ourselves to do something once or twice, but in case your why is to quit your current unhealthy lifestyle and increase your wellbeing, then slowing down shouldn’t happen only occasionally. The purpose is to really make a sustainable change.
There is something wrong if weekends or holidays are the only periods when you really take the time to slow down and focus on the things you enjoy doing. Because it really is possible to live the life you enjoy every single day, and by knowing your why you raise your chances to get there.
2. Your values – decide what is important in life
In order to learn to slow down and spend more time doing things that make you recovered and 100% yourself, you need to decide what is important for you and in your life. What do you want to prioritize and give attention to? What distracts and brings you even further away from yourself? Who you truly are? What are the things you appreciate in life? And what are the things you don’t want to go for?
Your values guide you towards the things you want to prioritize and focus on. By listening to those deepest values and beliefs, you can eliminate distractions and naturally direct yourself towards the right things that will make you feel better. Let’s take an easy example; social media usage. If you have been prioritizing social media consumption over something else, think why you have done it. Have you acted based on your values or based on your impulses or automatic reactions?
3. Learn to listen to yourself
Another thing to help you slowing down is learning to listen to yourself. Our energy levels, mood and circumstances change every day. If we decide to “slow down” in a too systematic way or set too specific targets for yourself, it might lead to stress and frustration instead of a good feeling. What you need today might not be what you needed yesterday. The best way to increase your wellbeing is to listen to the signals of your body and mind and acting according to those signals.
Sometimes it might be difficult to listen what your body or mind needs today. But that difficulty is actually one of the best signals to tell that you need to slow down; you are not connected with yourself mostly due to stress and too high speed or too many distractions in your life. Breathing, practicing mindfulness and meditation helps a lot to reconnect with yourself again. Then, your inner self will let you know what you truly need today and you can start living accordingly.
What happens when you slow down?
What can happen once you learn to live based on your values and needs? How your life will change once you learn to slow down? I have learnt many things by focusing on my wellbeing and eliminating the majority of the “wrong” things from my daily life.
First concrete change has been in my overall mood. I think it comes partially from the feeling of having control over my life. By having control I mean that I am the person who decides what is important for me and I have the power to say no to things that brings me bad energy.
Another thing that happened to me once I slowed down is simply having more time for self-reflection. I have found totally new perspectives and aspects about myself that I didn’t even knew was existing. What has surprised me a bit was realizing how much time I need for myself. Also I have understood how much I have started to enjoy silence. Having time for my own thoughts every day feels amazing.
Then, there’s clarity. Overall I feel better now when I have much more clarity in my head; clarity about myself, my life and where I want to focus on. The so called “trash” from my mind is mainly gone.
Finally, what I am proud and very happy about is that slowing down has led me to take action. Sounds ironic, right? This whole post was about slowing down and now I am talking about action? But here I am talking about starting to do those things I have only dreamed of before. As said, slowing down does not only mean being passive. It means that you will become active in those areas you want to give your full attention to.
After slowing down and eliminating the “trash” from my mind, I have released a lot of energy that are now directed towards taking action on the things I love.
Sounds promising? You can do this too, start already today!