Do you ever feel that time seems to pass by faster than ever as the years go by? I remember getting into my teenage years and thinking that time felt faster than ever compared to when I was a child. As I get older, this only accelerates. It took me some time to realize that time wasn’t moving faster, rather I was. As we propel forward with technological and societal advancements, it's easy to become entangled in the whirlwind of daily existence. The Dalai Lama once said, ‘we are human beings, not human doings.’ It wasn’t until I learned the art of slowing down that I truly began to experience the fullness of life and find joy in each moment.
I’ve always described myself as someone who thrives off of being busy. I’ve spent much of my life living at breakneck speed, always rushing, thinking about what I had to do next, striving to do ‘more,’ and often feeling like I was running out of time. Over time, I realized how tiring this became. Perhaps the pandemic also left many of us with more time with ourselves and fewer things to do. One day, something shifted. I realized the more I rushed, the less I lived. I decided to consciously slow down, enjoy the simple minutia of life, and savour each moment as best I could.
We often hear about the importance of meditating and deep breathing as part of our daily lives. This can seem intimidating, and there are mindfulness activities that you can engage in before committing to sit-down daily meditation. What are small tasks that we often do mindlessly? Try to do them mindfully, and focus only on that task. If you’re doing the dishes, focus only on the dishes. Take a mindful shower instead of thinking about what you’ll be doing tomorrow while you do it. Make it a point to focus only on what you’re doing. Become that very moment, in that moment.
We don’t need to inundate ourselves with complex routines and practices. Take the time to savour your morning coffee, eat your meals mindfully, and enjoy life's simple pleasures. Some may refer to this as, ‘romanticizing your life.’ Find what this means for you, whether it’s creating a sense of adventure and excitement in your daily routines, or simply seeing your life as a story worth telling.
Turn off your phone and other electronic devices, and spend time doing something you love without distractions. Our phones can be distracting and inadvertently draining. I often feel overwhelmed by the influx of notifications on my phone at the end of a long day. I know it’s hard for us to imagine our lives without our phones but try and normalize this, even if it's for one short period of time in your day.
Doing nothing is okay! We need to recharge. If you need it, allow yourself to indulge in long periods of rest. Whatever this looks like for you, try and practice it. Dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing.
I always say, one of my favourite forms of self-care is to prepare for my future self. This is something that takes a bit of planning, but I find things go as smoothly as possible this way. I always thank my past self for these seemingly small, extra efforts. I find this makes my experiences feel slower and less chaotic.
These practices have helped me manage stress and brought me a sense of peace that feels satisfying to sit with. This sense of satisfaction can significantly improve your quality of life. Slowing down helped me realize that life can be both beautiful and productive even when you take things in stride. As a therapist, I often see how our fast-paced, technology-driven world can lead to burnout and anxiety. I encourage my clients to explore the benefits of slowing down, to find ways to be more present, to connect with themselves and others, and to simply allow themselves to become more calm and centred.
Today, take a moment to slow down! You may realize there is a lot you aren’t paying attention to, that’s right in front of you. In a world where we constantly crave more satisfaction, few things compare to the bliss of slowing down.
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