When I was a child, summers seemed to last forever. Days were spent swimming with friends, checking out books at the library, and playing flashlight tag. My family would often take a road trip to visit my grandparents in Maine. Some summers included gymnastics or tennis camp, but there was plenty of time to read, adventure, and be bored. The hot, sunny days were endless. September and a new school year seemed very far away.
As an adult, the summer experience is quite different. Memorial Day arrives with the hope of a slow, relaxed season: weekends spent at the pool with friends, family meals outside, and long bike rides. But the reality is…I blink and it’s pumpkin spice time.
This year, I am committed to slowing down and savoring the season. Want to join me? Read on for the easiest solution to slow down your life.
What does it mean to SLOW DOWN?
Consider how many unimportant things you cram into your day. Do you need to know what your highschool classmate ate for dinner last night? Will things fall apart if you don’t read the news article about what’s going on in another part of the world today? Is scrolling through those shopping sites saving you time? Slowing down asks us to observe our daily habits with a critical eye in order to eliminate things that don’t benefit us.
Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean that we do things slower (no worries… you don’t have to switch from email to snail mail). It is the feeling of moving at a pace that lets you breathe, observe, and be present. Perhaps slowing down does mean you eat your lunch at a speed that lets you taste each bite. Or maybe you actually call a friend instead of quickly texting her. Slowing down means adopting a mindset that encourages you to pause.
Benefits of Slowing Down
Think about your daily routine. It might include waking up to an alarm, checking your email before you get out of bed, grabbing a cup of coffee on your way out the door, wrangling kids into the car, and rushing to work. Perhaps your days are quieter, but the to-do list never seems to get finished, and you find yourself rushing from task to task. Either way, you could benefit from slowing down.
Slowing down requires us to make a conscious effort to savor life’s big and small experiences. The payoff can mean less stress and more presence. Slowing down can help you determine what is important and what isn’t. It lets us identify areas that need more attention (how’s that garden doing?) and recognize all the good stuff in our lives. Taking time to pause can help boost creativity, improve self-esteem, and restore balance in your life. The more often we choose to slow down, the easier it will become to act intentionally and with purpose.
The easiest solution to slowing down your life is… CHOICES!
Although much of our days are spent taking care of obligations, I would imagine there are some places where you could make the conscious choice to pause.
Yeah, right, I hear you saying. I have a full time job, kids to take care of, a house to clean, bills to pay, a dog to walk, and now you want me to pause???
Okay, hear me out. Are there any things you could eliminate? Do you spend any blocks of time doing things that create more stress (mindlessly scrolling through social media when we have a few minutes to spare, watching the news on an endless loop, driving in rush hour traffic)? This is where choices come into play.
- We can check emails at stop lights, or we can choose to pause and take 3 slow, complete breaths.
- We can watch another episode of Yellowjackets, or we could decide to read a chapter of that book beside our bed.
- We can clean the bathrooms, or we could opt to go for a walk with our partner.
- We can say no thank you to invites that leave us feeling fragmented or rushed.
Yes, a lot of our time is committed to responsibilities, but we can make choices about how to spend the other parts of our day.
Choosing to Slow Down
Like any new habit, making the decision to slow down will take time, mindfulness, and conscious effort. Start by noticing when you’re hurrying (I feel anxious. My breath is really choppy right now. Oh, I’m moving too fast. I need to slow down). That’s when you can take a moment to pause, breathe, and remember your intention to slow down.
I like to use a mantra or phrase when I catch myself rushing. This encourages me to be present and move slower. Here are a few mantras that I find helpful:
- Breathing in. Breathing out.
- I am making the conscious choice to slow down.
- I choose to live at a comfortable speed.
- There is enough time.
- What, exactly, am I rushing toward?
Writing down the phrase on sticky note and attaching it to your laptop, bathroom mirror, or phone can reinforce the idea of slowing down, as well.
When my children were young, I remember rushing from my yoga studio to their elementary school for a class party. A kind and wise teacher stopped me in the hallway to say hello. She could tell I was rushed and frazzled, and she said, “Try to be present in each moment with your children because you’ll never get this time back.” I vividly remember exhaling. She was right! Those days are long gone, as are my summer days of playing flashlight tag with the neighborhood kids. But, I can slow down to enjoy a glass of wine beneath the stars this season. And, you might find me sitting poolside with a good book, no phone or laptop in sight, savoring the long days of summer!
Let’s choose to slow down together on the yoga mat! Get my free Guide to a Peaceful Yoga Practice here.