The Gifts of Slowing Down

I notice myself rushing around a lot even when there isn’t a big emergency. There’s always so much to do, and I often feel like I’m falling behind. I don’t like feeling this way.

I know it’s not just me. I talk to many women who feel the same way. We have become addicted to the busyness of life. Our never-ending “to-do” list can make us feel like there’s no time to slow down.

When we do take breaks, many of us keep our minds active by consuming endless amounts of information and entertainment on our electronic devices. This can leave us feeling exhausted and make us feel guilty that we wasted so much time.

Rushing and feeling behind can become a habit. If we want to feel our best we need to make a conscious effort to break this habit.

We need to remind ourselves that life is not an emergency. We need to practice slowing down.

Why slow down?

Here are a few health and wellness benefits:

1) Improved digestion and weight release

When we are in a rush, we tend to eat mindlessly and inhale our food. We don’t pay attention to the quality and quantity of our food. We eat past the point of satiation because we are out of touch with our bodies.

Eating too fast and rushing around activates our sympathetic nervous system. This tells our body that “there is an emergency and we better hold onto weight.”

It also prevents us from digesting our food well since the body is preparing for “flight or fight.” Eating fast can cause bloating and discomfort. Just by slowing down your eating pace you can dramatically improve your digestion and drop extra weight because you are working with your body instead of against it.

2) Make Fewer Mistakes

Have you ever noticed that you make more mistakes when you are moving too fast?

Perhaps I’m more accident prone than others, but I have noticed that when I’m rushing around, I tend to make silly mistakes such as breaking dishes, knocking over my water glass, or forgetting important things I need to do.

3) More joy in the present moment

When you slow down, you can get a break from the endless chatter in your head. You might notice things you wouldn’t have seen if you were rushing around.

For example, the other day I was walking in the woods at a gentle pace. As I turned a corner, a red-shouldered hawk flew over my head and landed in a tree. I stopped and observed it for a while. It made me wonder how often I miss seeing things due to rushing around or having my head down staring at my phone.

Slowing down helps us be kinder, more patient, and brings more calm and peace to our daily lives. It makes us more naturally grateful because we become more aware of the gifts in our daily lives.

Slowing down also helps us recharge so when we do have to speed up a bit we have the energy to do so. I know I want more of that. How about you?

If you are up for it, try slowing down a bit today. How can you start?

▪Take a slow walk and really observe your surroundings. Leave your phone behind so you won't be tempted to check it.

▪Sit down when you eat. Slow your pace down. Put your fork down between bites.

▪Try a simple meditation. If you find meditation challenging, you can use an app to help. My favorite free meditation app is “Simply Being.” It has 5 minute meditations which is a great place to start.

▪Write down 3-5 things you are grateful for.

▪Say a little mantra to yourself such as “I have plenty of time; there is no hurry.”

Remember this takes practice. I remind myself to slow down, be present and “enjoy the ride” daily and I hope you take time to do the same.