We are faced with more noise, distraction, busyness, and stress than ever before and with that comes a more pressing need to prioritize slowing down as part of our self-care practice.
But why is slowing down and practicing self-care so challenging?
In this article, we take a look at how important it is to slow down, what happens when we don’t, as well as a few ways to welcome a slower lifestyle. We also explore why slowing down SHOULD be part of your self-care practice.
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life” – Socrates
There is the idea that when life moves at an uncontrollable speed, the reason we do not slow down is that deep down we do not believe we deserve to slow down, or that it is okay to continue at a heightened speed.
Just as nature needs the rain to replenish and the sun to restore, we too need our own ways in which to replace what we lose.
Try to think of yourself as a tree.
Oftentimes we focus on the leaves or the bark of the tree when treating it. It is easy to forget that the soil in which the tree is rooted is as, if not more, important since the work is done from “within”. The soil anchors the tree’s roots and provides the nourishment that the tree needs to survive and grow.
In addition, we tend to forget that if the tree does not get the nutrients it needs, it cannot support all the other organisms like birds, humans, or bugs and insects that it sustains.
The same can be said for us.
If we do not care for ourselves how can we care for others?
Do You Need to Slow Down?
When was the last time you woke up feeling refreshed, as though you had an incredible night’s sleep?
When last did you lose yourself in a good book, a lengthy conversation with a loved one or spent a day immersed in your favourite hobby?
When last did you take a day to do nothing and found simple tasks which helped clear your mental clutter, e.g replenishing your empty fridge, tidying your space or completing that thing you’ve been putting off?
If it’s been far too long, take the time to ask yourself, why.
Why We Need to Slow Down
Busyness in itself is not a bad thing.
We all have seasons in life that require us to buckle down, work hard and move the needle forward in work and life.
To face stressful situations head-on and come out victorious on the other side.
These wins are made sweeter by how hard we worked to achieve them.
But, operating at this level becomes dangerous if we remain in this heightened state for prolonged periods of time. Before too long our actions become automatic with no reflection or assessment.
In the current age, constant busyness is glorified and rewarded.
Being busy makes it seem like things are being done.
With a finite amount of time and energy and an infinite amount of boxes on our to-do lists, bit by bit our priorities start to change.
“If you constantly sacrifice what you want, pretty soon, what you want becomes the sacrifice”. – Anonymous
Parents find themselves too busy to help their children with homework or read to them before bed.
Families no longer sit around the dinner table laughing, talking about their day and, instead, opt to quietly zone out in front of the tv or on mobile phones.
When we are stressed, it can be difficult to focus on our health and wellness. During these times our wellbeing is the first thing to go.
Our relationships ( with others and ourselves ) become strained and we might act irrationally, distant or find that we are easily agitated.
We are so used to being squeezed, expected to multitask and be productive that when our brains become overloaded, and our bodies and nervous system overwhelmed, we think it’s us that has the problem.
Slowing down is not necessarily doing less or saying no to more, but rather, being more mindful of what we are doing and why.
When we fill each moment of our lives with busyness, noise and chatter, how are we meant to hear our innermost thoughts and feelings?
How are we meant to hear the sound of our own breath?
When We Slow Down
When we choose to slow things down, life no longer seems to pass us by. We are saying yes to our own well-being, from a holistic point of view:
“ [..] making time to enjoy your mornings, instead of rushing off to work in a frenzy. It means taking time to enjoy whatever you’re doing, to appreciate the outdoors, to actually focus on whoever you’re talking to or spending time with — instead of always being connected to a Blackberry or iPhone or laptop, instead of always thinking about work tasks and emails. It means single-tasking rather than switching between a multitude of tasks and focusing on none of them.”
Take some time here to consider what slowing down looks like to you.
When you take the time to slow down you:
Lower your blood pressure and reduce heart rate
Experience less adrenal stimulation which in turn balances hormones
Soothe the nervous system
Enjoying better quality sleep
Experience overall better quality of life
Enjoy your life more
The important thing about slowing down and self-care are that it looks different to everyone.
Unfortunately, there is no 5 step path and the road is based on what you as an individual need and see as valuable to your life.
The only way we can find this out is to sit with ourselves and learn more about what is important to us and how we would like to live our life.
Dig a little deeper
Grab a notebook and pen, brew a cup of tea and take 10 minutes to learn more about yourself with the below journal prompts.
What makes you feel powerful?
What makes you feel calm?
What makes you feel in control?
How do you encourage yourself when you’re facing a challenge?
What’s a choice you can make this week based on your needs?
At the end of the day, the way in which we choose to live our lives is completely up to us and we have the choice to become responsible for what we do with them and how we spend them.
Slowing down is not just about taking on less, moving at a slower pace and enjoying our lives moment to moment, but also about assessing the way we move through life and reminding ourselves that we are worthy and we are allowed (and should be encouraged) to slow down.
Continually asking ourselves what is or is not working and why.
Because, in the blink of an eye, it’ll all be over.
A wonderful way to physically incorporate and embody a slower pace in life is to practice slower and soothing yoga styles, such as restorative or yin yoga. Why not consider joining any of our slower classes at House of Yoga, such as our Yoga for Restoration or Yoga for Self-Love classes?