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Wake up. Yawn and stretch. Grab the phone. Check notifications… go, go, GO! Does this sound like anyone you know? Does this sound like YOU? I can relate for sure! I often find myself so busy throughout the day, that I don’t have the time to even think about slowing down.
The art of slowing down is something new to me, and I’ve come to realize that it takes a deliberate effort to achieve. However, I truly believe that slowing down is the best way to reduce stress and gain some balance back into our hectic lives.
As a server for the last 15+ years, speed has been engrained in me for most of my life. In the restaurant industry, there’s no time for lollygaggers. You have to hustle and keep up a fast pace in order to serve your guests in a timely manner. There are many things you have to do and remember, all while keeping a smile on your face and taking the time to connect with your guests in hopes of getting that big tip.
With that kind of a background, you can imagine how difficult it can be for me to slow down. Even while trying to perfect the art of slowing down, I find myself falling back into old habits. I’ve been hard-wired to be constantly in a rush, moving from one task to the next.
The problem with that way of living is that it’s unsustainable. There’s no way to maintain such a rushed lifestyle without causing stress and health problems along the way.
The Art of Slowing Down
So what are some ways that we can slow down and de-stress? I’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you to master the art of slowing down.
1. Wake Up Slowly
People always say the best start to your day is a good breakfast. This is because our bodies tend to stay on the path we set for ourselves. By starting your day with a healthy breakfast, you are telling yourself that you are going to do things right. You are setting your day in motion on the right path. This momentum will continue throughout the day, and you are more likely to make healthy choices. However, if you skip breakfast entirely, you are more likely to fall into old habits by over-indulging at mealtime due to your lack of energy.
This same concept applies to slowing down. When you wake up in a frenzy and immediately check your notifications, emails, etc., you are setting a pattern for the rest of your day. OK, I confess! I am one of those people that sleeps with my phone under my pillow so I have easy access to it in the morning!
Many experts talk about the importance of a morning routine. Create a morning routine for yourself that forces you to slow down. My new routine is simple. I’m going to be ‘unplugged’ from the moment I wake up (usually around 7:00am) until my work day begins at 10:00am. My phone will remain on the nightstand, my laptop will remain closed, and there will be no morning TV before I start my work day. ALL of those things can wait for me, and they can wait for YOU too. I promise!
My focus during these hours before work will be on meditation, a healthy breakfast, yoga, and spending time with my daughter. What will I do if I have time I have left over? I’ll enjoy it!
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
We all want more love, respect, money. I feel like we look to others’ successes and find ourselves in a state something like jealousy. We wish that we could be as happy as them. We ask ourselves why they seem to have found their happiness while we’re still stuck. We wonder how they landed their dream job while we’re still struggling to make ends meet. I’m telling you right now: STOP DOING THAT!
You have no idea what trials that person faced before they found their happiness. You don’t know how many months or years they struggled before making it big. We are all on our own journeys through this life. You can’t compare your middle to someone else’s end. You will drive yourself crazy.
When we compare ourselves to others, we’re playing the “catch-up” game. We get so caught up in the rat race that we forget to take time and enjoy our own journey. Try to incorporate this concept into your life. It will make a huge difference!
Choose People First
Do these phrases sound familiar to you?: “I’ll be done in 5 minutes.”, “Give me a sec.”, “Hold on a minute.” They may not seem like a big deal to you, but think about how the listener feels. They’re hearing that whatever you are working on at the moment is more important than they are. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes it really IS important to finish whatever you’re working on. Some projects have to get done.
What I’m saying is that you should slow down and think about it before putting someone off. Can that email wait 10 minutes for you to help your son with homework? Can that addicting candy-crushing game be put on hold so that you can spend some quality time with your husband? I think so, how about you?
Dolce Far Niente
Say WHAT? I first read about this beautiful Italian concept in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Eat, Pray, Love”. Dolce far niente means “the sweetness of doing nothing”. Pick a day (for me it is Sundays) that you have the time to “do nothing”. Don’t make any plans. Just wake up and see where the day takes you.
Don’t worry about work. Don’t worry about the week to come. Just let your day flow. Read a book, go for a walk, make dinner with your honey. Do “whatever” all day long, just don’t plan it out ahead of time. If this means that you end up parked on the couch all day watching a marathon on Netflix, then so be it! The point is to embrace a day without responsibility and to enjoy the freedom and relaxation that ensues.
Enjoy The Little Things
Here I go, telling you to stop and smell the roses (haha!). Hear me out, though… The art of slowing down is directly related to enjoying the little things. Our lives can get so chaotic, that if we don’t slow down and enjoy the little things, we end up wondering where all of the years have gone.
Do you hear children playing outside? Stop for a second and enjoy the sound. Take a few minutes out of your day to write someone a letter or an email just to say hi. Take a walk without your phone and look around you, enjoying the sounds and sights as you go.
Trust me, taking a little time each day to enjoy the little things will have you mastering the art of slowing down in no time at all!
Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle
One of the main reasons our lives are so busy is that we take on so much more than we can handle. We soon get in a habit of operating at warp-speed on a daily basis, just trying to squeeze in as much productivity as possible. We start thinking there are not enough hours in the day.
The art of slowing down would tell us to be realistic when we take on a new project. Don’t be afraid to say no to someone if you can’t handle the extra work-load. There is nothing worse than committing yourself to someone and then delivering a sub-standard product or service because you didn’t have the time to do it correctly.
This one is hard for me sometimes. I have a generous spirit. I like to be there for everyone as often as possible. I find it very hard to say no when someone asks me for a favor. I have learned over the years though, that saying yes to everyone all of the time can lead to burn-out and more stress for everyone involved.
Next time you are thinking about adding something new to your already full plate, ask yourself if you can really give it your all. If the answer is no, then you should consider declining in the nicest way possible. The “learn to say no” approach will save you a lot of trouble, not to mention salvage your reputation.
I’m not asking you to abandon all responsibility here. There are many important things in our lives that demand a lot of time and commitment. What I’m asking you to do is to simply take a few steps that will help you gain back some time to focus on the most important thing: YOU!
Take the time you need to de-stress and find your serenity.
Enjoy life while you are living it. The time is now, my friend!
Author Bio: Kara
Kara is a 15+ year restaurant industry veteran who hung up her serving hat to pursue her dream of owning her own business. She is an adventurer and creative spirit who inspires her readers to live more centered and fulfilled lives over on The Boho Berry Blog.
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