If you find that the fast pace of our culture does not suit you or that you often feel anxious, essential self-care becomes about learning to slow down. This can be a difficult shift for many of us since things like multi-tasking, hurrying and saying “yes!” to nearly everything can be hard habits to break. But it is not impossible to make these changes, to make a shift to a more relaxed and satisfied way to be in the world. Here are some simple ideas to incorporate daily for learning to slow down and become more present to the moment. Adopting one shift at a time can be a simple way to initiate lasting change. • Only drive while driving. Many of us have slowly added more things to do while driving and now the task of getting from here to there is a catch all of catching up. Stop talking on the phone, texting (yipes - are you doing that?), listening to the radio (choose wisely), list making, putting on make-up or any other distracting task that has become part of your driving routine. • Turn off the television at least one hour earlier than normal. Find a days end relaxation routine that fits for you like a bath, yoga stretches, an herbal tea, inspirational reading, or journaling. Anything that allows you to consciously let go of the day and relax will reduce stress. TV is not a form of relaxation even though many like to call it this. • Look at someone in the eyes that you normally would not take the time to look at, smile and really acknowledge their presence. • Listen to someone you care about intently at least once a day. If you have the urge to talk or correct or add anything, do not. Simply practice listening. • Pay attention to your breathing for at least a few minutes a day. Choose one thing to hold your attention like noticing which is the primary nostril you are breathing with, feel the air enter cool, exit warmer, tell your body parts one at a time to relax with each breath. • Make a meal that you would normally have as a fast food or an eating out experience. Summertime is perfect for creating a quick meal because it could be cereal or yogurt and fresh fruit (this works for dinner too), or fresh summer vegetables from a farmer’s market. Eat mindfully and quietly, paying attention to your food and how you feel as you are eating. Finish when you begin to feel full and then pay attention to how you get more full as you sit for a while afterwards. • Write down three things that are troubling you right now. Sit quietly and ask for help form a divine source to lead you to your best answers. Stay still for a bit and give thanks for the guidance that will follow. It does happen, we often don’t take the time to process this way.
These are some truths about cramming in too much and going too quickly through your days.
• Most of the time the stress and fatigue that comes as a product of this lifestyle diminishes the quality of everything you are doing. • Believe it or not, we actually become less efficient at some point. There is a place where pressure can elicit productivity and then once the line is crossed it declines. Many of us have crossed the line but are not aware of this. • You miss much of life when it is whizzing past at 100 mph. Thinking that we are getting more by doing more is not necessarily a truth. Unless you like superficiality and then it can work well. Superficial rarely satisfies. • Too much intense joy can be as debilitating as too much of anything else. Too much is simply the road to imbalance, not happiness or fulfillment. • Most of the time, when we are living this way, we are running from something inside ourselves. Finding out what we might be fleeing can be the road to peace.
Slowing down may be uncomfortable at first. Perhaps it may be a challenge to sit still in unscheduled time. Sometimes we have to learn to listen to what we need or want on a deeper level and this may not happen immediately. Learning to move more slowly and attentively will become a habit eventually and usually leaves us feeling more at ease at the day’s end.