Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone! It’s so easy to get caught up in circumstances and day-to-day activities, but it’s so important to — regularly — take time to slow down. I need to remind myself of this almost every day (and it’s a challenge). Here’s my latest column with five ways to practice slowness.
Every year, things seem to move faster than they did the year before. Personally, the past few years of my life have involved so much activity that it’s difficult to remember a time when I moved at a slower pace. This is thanks in part to advancements in technology that allow for us as a society to do so much more. (Theoretically at least.) We live in a society where it’s just not cool to stay in and go to bed early; where clocking over time, taking on excess work and personal responsibility aren’t appreciated – they’re expected.
I recently discovered that I belong to a growing number of young professionals who are “dual-device” – people who carry two cellular devices, one for work and one for personal use. While in some ways it’s an advantage to be continuously connected – I can tell you at any given point in time what the latest news headlines are, how certain stocks are performing, and even see fuel prices at the nearest service station, – being continuously connected is also a growing concern. People everywhere are always plugged-in, and with this expectation that we should be that way, when and how are we supposed to slow down?
I’ve written before about the bad word “busy”, and Carl Honoré (Canadian journalist and guy genius), has written a series of books on the subject of the “slow” revolution. He practices this whole psychology that slowing down allows us to savour more of life – applying the art of slowness to relationships, food, and even medicine. Both of Honoré’s books, In Praise of Slow and The Slow Fix should be mandatory reading if you frequently feel “stressed” or like you never have enough time to finish everything that needs to be done. (Note to self)
With this notion of “slowness” in mind, here are five practices that I find help me slow down and live more fully. Easy enough to write, these are areas that I actively have to keep in check.
- Shut down screen time. In the spirit of being always connected, it can be a real struggle to shut down technology in the evenings. Nights when I’m at home, the hours between 6pm and 10pm are crucial for unwinding.
- Sleep. I frequently hear “sleep is over-rated” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” from people who want to make the most of out life and enjoy every moment. One of the keys to enjoying every moment to its fullest is being properly rested. Do some research on sleep stages for more on this.
- Cook. It’s no secret that I love food, and experimenting in the kitchen (or at the ‘Q) is something I’ve really grown fond of the past few years. Ever heard the saying “it tastes better when it’s made with love”? It’s true! When you’re relaxed, the process of preparing a meal somehow makes the food more flavour-filled.
- Face-to-face communication. Whether it’s taking a walk with a loved one, or making a “no phones at the table” rule during dinnertime, actually having a conversation with someone is not only meaningful, but can help combat stress as well.
- Decompress. I refer to this in #1 as “unwinding”. For me, decompressing involves reading, exercise, writing, or watching PBS (although I limit direct screen time right before bed).
I’ll leave you with a quote from Carl Honoré: “Much better to do fewer things and have time to make the most of them.” What are you doing in your life to promote the practice of more fulfilled living?