HOW TO SLOW DOWN: SIMPLE TIPS TO HELP YOU SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY LIFE MORE
Life can get busy and we sometimes struggle to keep pace. If this has happened to you but you don’t know how to slow down, here are some simple tips to help you slow down and enjoy life more.
WHEN LIFE GETS BUSY
How are you? Did you answer ‘busy’!?
I’m sure many of us feel like that from time to time. If you feel that life has picked up speed and you need to find ways to slow down and carve out time for you, then I hope this article helps.
I love to write about productivity, getting more organised and clearing the clutter from your schedule (like you would declutter your home).
Good time management is one of the key components of simple living and creating an intentional life – one that’s on your terms and not defined by your To Do list or anyone else.
However, I’m also realistic and life gets busy sometimes.
There doesn’t always seem much scope to do less, slow down or take your foot off the pedal. If this feels familiar, then keep reading for some little tips on how to slow down when life gets busy.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO SLOW DOWN SOMETIMES
Personally, I like to slow down when life is too busy. A slower pace, purposefully seeking out enjoyment and calm, relaxes and rejuvenates me. It encourages thoughts and ideas to come to me, gives me silence for inspiration, quietens my mind from the busy-ness of the day and refreshes me so that I’m ready for whatever comes my way next.
Slowing down makes me happier and healthier in mind and body and I’m definitely nicer to be around and a better parent, wife and friend!
I also feel more at ease when I’m more organised and on top of things. I feel less stressed, more in control and more at ease when my To Do list is ticked off (usually by having less on it!) and I haven’t wasted my time on things that don’t require it.
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.“ (Mahatma Gandhi)
Slowing down is as much a state of mind as it is the state of my schedule! When life gets busy, I think it’s especially important to find your own little moments of slowness, calm and peace!
Further reading: Essential mindsets to help you get more out of life
A SIMPLER LIFE LEAVES ROOM TO SLOW DOWN WHEN WE NEED
When we slow down, press pause and stop we give ourselves time to think and plan. We can find clarity and focus. Our quiet, precious thoughts aren’t having to make themselves heard in the midst of a noisy world.
A simple life is an eas-IER one, but it’s not always easy. Life can get complicated sometimes.
By being intentional about what we let in we’re trying our best to keep focused on our priorities and the things that mean the most to us, even when daily life throws us a curve ball.
A simple life isn’t a boring, rigid or empty one, but it does enable and encourage us to slow down when we need to.
In slowing down we can find ways to honour the things that mean the most to us.
So, when your life gets busy or you’ve got important plans to make, I invite you to slow down. Press pause. Give yourself space to stop and think.
SIGNS YOU MIGHT NEED TO SLOW DOWN
Before we look at how to slow down, I thought it might be helpful to briefly explore how you might know it’s time down to slow down. Sometimes we’re oblivious to a problem unless we know to look out for it!
When life gets busy we’re often on overdrive and running on adrenalin during the day. At bedtime our head hits the pillow at night exhausted but we find it difficult to switch off and go to sleep. If we’re really too busy, over the longer-term, this can lead to burn-out and other serious problems.
Yet, there are lots of other little warning signs that can give us a clue when life gets too busy including:
- You find it difficult to concentrate and maintain focus
- You forget things or find it difficult to make a decision
- You wake up tired in the morning
- You don’t take breaks or look after yourself
It might be worth checking-in with yourself to see if you recognise any of these signs in you. Don’t ignore them and carry on. They’re a useful signal that you might need to slow down and do things differently!
Further reading: 18 signs you are too busy and what to do about it
HOW TO SLOW DOWN: SIMPLE TIPS TO HELP YOU SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY LIFE MORE
Here are some ideas on how to slow down and simple tips to help you enjoy life more, particularly when your schedule is busy. Try them for yourself and see what works for you.
1. Be clear on what you’re busy doing
Do you need to slow down because you’re busy? If so, the first step is to be clear on what you’re busy doing.
Are you busy because you have lots going on? Are you busy because you don’t like to sit still? Are you busy because you’re disorganised? Are you busy but not sure what you’re busy doing? Do you find it difficult to say no? Do you say yes because you want to feel valued and important? Do you feel you’re expected to be busy?
The first step in understanding how to slow down and be less busy is to be clear on what’s making you busy in the first place!
2. Learn to say no
Saying no isn’t selfish. It’s about knowing your boundaries, having courage to put yourself first every now and then and honouring your priorities instead of living by everyone else’s priorities. We’ll talk more about priorities in a moment but for now, practice saying no. What could you say no to this week or month?
Further reading: 7 ways to be intentional with your time
3. Practice mindfulness and being present
Make a warm drink and enjoy drinking it whilst it’s still warm. Sit somewhere comfortable, feel the mug in your hands and the warm drink warming your body. Alternatively, savour a piece of chocolate, your favourite type of cake or just a cooling glass of water.
Stop whatever else you’re doing. Stop multi-tasking. Enjoy the present moment and do nothing else. It’s ok to slow down you know.
4. Review your schedule often
Don’t just stick things in your calendar and do them out of habit. Review your schedule every week and see how it looks and feels. Is there enough free time? Enough blank space. Have you double-booked or not given yourself enough wiggle room? Are there things in your diary that are there because you signed up to them a while ago? Do they still align with your priorities or are you doing them out of habit?
Further reading: How to plan for the week ahead
5. Explore nature
Nature is beautiful and inspiring. Take yourself for a walk, listen to the birds, look out for wildlife, get the blood pumping around your body and enjoy the the feeling of movement and freedom. Breathe in the air and blow out the stress! Slow down and enjoy the little things.
6. Turn off the screens
Get away from the TV, computer, your phone. Turn off the pings and alerts. You don’t need the bright lights, movement or noise to invade your space and clutter up your senses.
If you struggle with too much screen use try these ideas:
- Tell loved ones they need to phone you to contact you: Pop your phone on a shelf, out of sight and out of mind, and leave it there for 30 minutes (or however long you feel is right for you). Don’t be tempted to check it until that time is up.
- Have a place in your home where you leave your phone: Make sure you can hear it if you need to, but don’t carry it around with you so you’ll be tempted to check it often. Come away from the screen and be present in your life.
7. Meditate or journal
Find a quiet place to get comfortable and meditate, even just for a few minutes. Push out thoughts of what you’ve forgotten to do that day, or what you’re meant to be cooking for dinner. Focus on being present in the moment, centre your mind and give yourself a break, just for a moment.
Journal your thoughts and see what comes up. Let the ideas flow and take shape on paper. Check out these journal prompts for self-care to get you started.
You could create a quiet meditation corner in your home as a go-to place where you can find calm. Alternatively, have all the things you need in a box or somewhere handy that you can get to easily when you’re ready. Maybe a cushion or a candle, your journal and favourite pen? What else might you like to help you meditate or journal?
8. Brain dump
Clear your mind of busy thoughts, worries, tasks to do and things to remember. Grab a notebook and write everything down that’s weighing on your mind.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows. It empties today of its strength.” (Corrie Ten Boom)
From here you can organise those thoughts and take action where necessary but at least they won’t be circling round your brain. Check out this post for more help on how to brain dump!
9. Sit still
There is amazing power in silence. Find a quiet place to sit still and listen to what comes to mind. Sometimes our own thoughts don’t get heard over the noise of the day. Whilst you’re enjoying the stillness, think about what you’re grateful for in your life.
“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” (Ralph H. Blum)
So often, when we’re caught up in the hustle bustle, we forget all the things we’re lucky to have in our lives and we don’t notice or enjoy the little things.
10. Declutter your space
It’s quite therapeutic to remove the clutter from an area of our home and create some space on a bare table-top, shelf or corner of the floor. A clearer space is less visually distracting and less clutter has been shown to equal less stress. For more ideas on how to bring a little calm to your outer environment read this post on how to create a calm family home.
Further reading: How to declutter your home and life
11. Get a change of scene
Walk away from your busy life and find a new place to be, even if it’s 10 minutes in a coffee shop or kicking a football around the park with the kids. A change of scene gives you a fresh perspective on life and gets you away from your normal schedule and surroundings. As they say, a change is as good as a break!
12. Carve out some special time for yourself
Start and end your day with some slow and quiet time for yourself. Explore these morning routine ideas to kick-start and get ahead of your day, or these evening routine ideas to help you unwind and relax ready for bed.
13. Read a book
Absorbing yourself in a good book means you’re sitting still, focusing on something other than your To Do list and finding a way to switch off from your day. Not to mention learning a new subject or being transported to fantasy land depending on what your book is about! Keep a list of books you’d like to read handy so you don’t get stuck without a good book.
14. Listen to a podcast
Expand your mind, get inspired and concentrate on what you’re listening to (maybe whilst going for a walk?). Podcasts have a similar effect to the point above but have the added benefit that you can do something else at the same time.
15. Create a space for yourself
My home can get busy. When I need to slow down, I know that I prefer a calm, quiet place to slow down in. For me, my sanctuary is my clutter-free and calming bedroom. Where could you slow down in your own home?
16. Define your priorities
If you’re constantly seeking calm and slowness in a busy life, then maybe it’s time to take stock of your diary and the pulls on your time (and energy). Say no to anything that’s not a priority for you right now. Prioritise the things that you HAVE to do so you have more time to do what you WANT to do and most importantly… carve out some more calm in your life and slow down.
Further reading: How to define your priorities in life and why it matters
RESOURCES ON HOW TO SLOW DOWN
Slowing down is as much about self-care and mindset work as it is about managing your time. Here are some resources which could help:
- Journal prompts for self-care – how do you feel about yourself and how could regular self-care make you feel instead
- 15 ways to be more productive – simple tips to help you get more of the right things done in less time
- 20 ways to simplify your life and create more ease and space
- 6 self-care habits for your daily routine – tips for a consistent self-care practice
- Maximise Your Time – a step-by-step course to help you go from overwhelmed to organised and take control of your schedule and time