Nick Ortner, author of New York Times best-selling book, “The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living,” recently made a statement and asked a question that contradicts much of the way our culture rolls.
He says, “Our society values busyness and ‘getting things done’ above all else. But what if the best thing you could do for yourself and the ones you love is to slow down?”
I was recently warned by someone else that I should slow down in my 40s, or eventually fall down somewhere in the middle of my 50s, and have a tough time getting up. Inherently, I knew it was right. It resonated.
The problem is I’m equally committed to dreaming big and slowing down feels completely counter-productive to that cause. There are so many things I want to do and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.
In other words, I believe slowing down could also create the desperate situation of not getting things done, not having enough money to live my own way and possibly forcing me to make unhappy changes that might feed my bank account while starving my soul.
Most days I wake up to the 6 a.m. alarm, hit snooze once, sometimes twice, and then once I’m fully awake I begin playing beat-the-clock to help my children get to school on time, get my work done, keep the house clean, prepare meals, clean our clothes, and a million other tasks that take me from morning until late at night. Aside from the occasional nap in the afternoon because I can’t keep my eyes open, infrequent trips to the gym and daily walks, slowing down just doesn’t make sense.
So what exactly does Ortner mean? I thought about it and this is what I came up with. I have no choice but to slow down in more do-able ways that don’t involve giving up some of my dreams and eliminating essential things from my to-do list. Here are four ways I can actually slow down my overall process without sacrificing progress.
Relax. This is something I can do throughout the day because it takes place mostly in my mind. What I mean is, any time I have to wait to get somewhere; I take a moment to relax within that space. Being forced to wait patiently is not a crisis of any sort. Being impatient creates needless anxiety within myself that I can control if I choose to take control.
For instance, standing at the checkout line at the store, I don’t panic about the time that’s slipping away. Instead, I see it as my cue to take at least three deep breaths, look around, or look inward. The main thing is to relax. This can also be applied at red lights, waiting at the DMV, waiting for a child to come out of a lesson, or waiting of any kind. I now realize what a gift it is! Sometimes, I even let other people go ahead of me so I have a few more minutes to stand still and relax in the moment.
- Make good use of time. Slowing down doesn’t have to mean wasting time or grass growing under my feet. If I know I’m going to be in the car for any period of time, I use it as a fun slow-down period that’s also useful. Sometimes I need entertainment, think of how I want to feel and choose my music accordingly. Other times I have something to sort out in my mind and use the quiet time to either solve an issue or take mental inventory.
But my favorite way to use the time is thinking about an upcoming project that requires mental organization. If I do that first, when I sit down to do the actual work, I’m infinitely more productive and feel more relaxed about the whole thing. Hence, slowing down. Doing this even slows down my physical speed in the car, which can be dangerous, and makes me feel like I’m rushing around rather than taking a leisurely drive.
Take time to talk. I have to catch myself at times. I’ll begin a conversation and glance at my phone because I trick myself into thinking I’m getting something else done at the same time. But the truth is that sometimes multi-tasking isn’t kind. If you’re going to take even a few moments to talk to someone, your children or spouse, for instance, grant them your full attention with your cell phone out of reach. It’s often time well spent and gives you a chance to live in the moment.
Wind down. There are times when I’m busy right up to the very second I get into bed. Somehow the lack of a smooth transition makes good sleep harder to fall into. Keeping in mind how a lack of solid sleep can create fertile ground for anxiety and depression, I’ve found if I do a few calculated slowing down maneuvers before hopping into my favorite place, I’m much more ready to relax. For instance, sitting down with a cup of hot water. OK, so it’s not tasty. But it’s a soothing exercise in mindfulness and great for making sure you don’t have indigestion during the night.