I’m under doctor’s orders to slow down and unload my schedule of unnecessary stress. I reminded both my doctors that I have two children and a third I watch for a friend, and I’m constantly on the go. Telling me to slow down is like telling a fish not to swim. I always have a dozen balls up in the air at any given moment.
So they both said “do my best”. So as I added a follow up appointment to my overloaded calendar, I felt myself on the verge of tears, crying out to the Lord to tell me which balls I could set down for a season, which ones I could let others take care of, and which ones I was the only one who could take care of them.
I was reminded of a book I read last year called: In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore. It wasn’t a list of do’s and do not’s. It was a look into what rushing has done to us as people and a society. As I pulled my research notes out I read my personal thoughts on how to stop the need to rush and so I’m sharing them with you.
1. Slow Down the Daily Musts. There is no way around the fact that life has sped up. We eat, drive, and interact faster than ever before. But Carl Honore’s research shows that our fast paced lifestyle is making us sick, depressed, and less satisfied with life. So the first way to slow down is to begin doing all your MUST do’s slower and more intentionally. Some call this living intentionally. But what it requires if for every decision to be thought about. Planning a meal, being selective about the ingredients, taking the time to prepare it, serve it, enjoy it. Learn to be that attentive to the simplest of things like brushing your teeth or going to sleep and you will find you enjoy them more.
2. Develop a Daily Routine for the Musts. We have to eat, sleep, take care of personal hygiene. Some of us have spouses and kids that must be taken care of, too. But when there is a routine you can stop half the mad dashes and frustration of not being able to find what you need when you need it. This goes along with slowing down and being attentive. Attentive people have a routine that puts the items they need back where they will be needed. They take note of when something is running low because they are paying attention to what they are doing. It may take longer to do one thing at a time, but you will find that you waste less time in the overall day.
3. Put People First. Even if you are an extreme introvert like me. You still have that one person you want to spend time with. Make sure the people in your life come before the stuff and the busyness. Also make sure you aren’t filling your time trying to “be” with people. Social activities are great, everyone should have one or two. But if you are always in a mad dash from one activity to the next all week long, then you might want to take stock of what you are spending your time doing and who you are doing it for. If you are going to Pilates class with your best-friend because she got a discount her buddy joined, but you don’t like Pilates and outside of saying hello and goodbye you aren’t personally engage with her then find a way you can spend time with her and tell her you’re dropping the class.
4. Create Time for Nothing. I call these daily stops and mine happen at the top of the hour when the coo-koo clock chimes. For a minute or two, I do nothing but focus on breathing. Learn to deep breath and relax. Afterward, look at the hour ahead and decide how to spend your time. Breathing fuels your brain with oxygen and helps you think more clearly, it also calms your nervous system. So before you make any decision take a moment to breathe.
5. Enjoy the Journey and the Destination. Have you ever gone on vacation and arrived exhausted from the trip? You do it every day when you rush to get to where you are going whether running an errand or cooking dinner. When we rush we take the pleasure out of the process of getting there. This goes for the day to day things to the real car trips. Find a way to make the journey more enjoyable. Listen to music or audiobooks, engage in a conversation while working together with someone, even just enjoying the experience of being selective about what you buy or watch.
6. Do Things You Love. Obviously, mine are praying and writing. I get energized by prayer and writing. I tune into the Lord better when I write. Whatever it is that you love. Schedule some time for it in your day or at least in your week. Stop doing things that you don’t love that just fill time like Candy Crush (Been there gave that up and don’t miss it one bit). You will free up little bits of time here and there for the important things.
7. Have a Day of Rest. God worked six days and rested the seventh. If we are made in the image of God, I doubt it was an accident that He rested on the seventh day and encouraged the Israelites to do the same. When was the last time you took a day to intentionally rest. You planned meals so you didn’t have to cook, turned off the electronics and just let the day go by resting, conversing with a friend, playing games with your kids, reading a book. Relaxing and being grateful for what you have and what you’ve done over the past week.
8. Make each minute count. Much of life is spent waiting or driving or doing something that in and of itself feels like a waste of time. Make those minutes count. I like to read in those in-between moments. Others use those minutes to make lists, crochet, even write books (if you haven’t joined us at 10 Minute Novelists you should). Those minutes add up, so use them wisely or let them be moments of rest and not busyness.
9. Stop Turning to Technology. I feel it every time I think ‘What do I need to do?’ That desire to check Facebook, Twitter or my email. It has become our nature to fill our time with technology. To check what’s on the DVR or text someone instead of plugging ourselves into what really makes life full or doing nothing at all to fill the void and enjoying the silence.
10. Hug Someone. Did you know our bodies NEED physical contact from others? Being in physical contact with others releases endorphines and other hormones and chemicals our minds and bodies need to be their best. Studies of infants in orphanages show that ones not held develop a failure to thrive and host of other psychological illnesses from not being touched. Holding hands with your children can be one of the best ways to build their confidence. Having tickle fights and kissy monsters are other fun ways to love on your family.