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Today, fast paced living is a standard. It's not unusual to rush from one task to another on auto-pilot and to give up your free time answering every message that comes your way. With increased obligations at work, commitments at home and our own ideal visions about what life should look like, we're often left feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of the day.
There is a solution - slowing down. I'll admit that if someone had suggested it to me a few years ago I would have laughed! But, that's because I would have made the mistake of thinking slowing down would mean getting less done - being a Capricorn with typical workaholic tendencies you can imagine why that wouldn't sound right to me!
Gradually though, I was won over and began to realise that a slower pace was not only healthier for my mind and body but that once I'd found my own natural pace of working, I was actually getting so much more from my days.
Of course, it's a conscious choice at first and like all change it can be met with a little resistance - internally and externally as the people around you learn to adapt. But, the increased appreciation of life together with reduced feelings of frustration and overwhelm are more than worth it.
Here's a few tips to get you started...
The days of wearing your ability to multi-task as a badge of honour are over. I know, I've been there too! We've all taken pride in being able to handle more than we should and still get it done but the time has come for that stop! Focus is the key to getting anything done efficiently, accurately and with less stress. Take a look at your list of 'things to do' and prioritise the top three, allocate time to each task and work solely on it during that time. Be sure to remove distractions such as phones and turn off email notification while you work.
So, how many times a day do you think you check your social media accounts and emails? Probably more than you think! It's understandable. At the push of a button we can all find something to lose ourselves in for a few minutes - a friend’s news, world events or a cute puppy video. It seems harmless but these interruptions have a huge impact on our concentration levels - it takes around 20 minutes for our brains to get back on track with what we were doing before the interruption. Imagine how much time that adds up to in a day! Slow down, unplug and get tasks completed before you check back in - try giving yourself allocated 'guilt free' slots during the day.
Feelings of overwhelm lead to anxiety which is never a productive state. These feelings can be reduced by taking a moment to feel present and breathe deeply. The best thing is that this can be practised anywhere; simply focus your attention on your breath - feeling it move in and out of your body. Resist the urge to control it, just experience it coming and going naturally. Let thoughts, emotions and sounds arise around you, let them pass by like clouds while you stay present with your breath. Practising this for just a couple of minutes can help restore balance and leave you feeling in control and much happier.
Slowing down behind the wheel not only reduces stress levels but it also saves lives - no more reasons needed. If speeding is a habit, then make a change to your driving conditions. Change your music for something calmer. Clear the clutter. Buy a spray, essential oil or air freshener that evokes bright, calm feelings for you. Use your time waiting at traffic lights and in queues to take three deep breaths which will help you stay mindful of the present moment and avoid your attention from wandering.
START YOUR DAY RIGHT
Starting your day disorganised, hurried and frustrated is a recipe for disaster. It can take hours to find your balance and get your emotions back on track. Look for the simple things that can make a difference - set intentions the night before, drink water to rehydrate and eat well - even if you have to grab a piece of fruit on the move!
Whichever way you consume media, I going to bet that you could cut down a little? Learn to recognise when you’re mindlessly flicking through websites, TV channels or have your focus disrupted by social media updates.
Making small changes is the best way to achieve long term improvements and so don't create overwhelm by trying everything at once. Pick something from the list or try something of you own and once you've created a new habit, try moving onto the next one.
If you've got any tips for slowing down without getting less done, then I’d love to hear them - please share in the comments below…
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.