Slowing Down

Is it possible to slow our lives down without quitting the job, selling the house, and running away with the circus?

Actually, throwing your life out the window isn’t the answer. Because no matter where you run, you take yourself with you. Do you know what I mean? You can say you are frazzled because of traffic, or your coworkers, or you don’t love your job. But then you realize that some of the frazzle is coming from inside you. That isn’t easy, but it is freeing to say,“Wow. Some of this craziness is my own! There are things I can do to take that wasted energy out of the situation. I am not the victim here. I am an active participant!” It can be a shock, I know.

If you want to be free from that feeling of running on the hamster wheel, swimming upstream, riding in a canoe with no paddle, what can we do? Is it really something we can change?

Here are a couple of simple but effective things to put into your life if you are serious about wanting release.

A lot of it is about time. There is a fixed amount of time each day, and we just can’t cram more minutes into an hour. Time is not the enemy, it is a tool we can use to live life fully. Fully, not crammed and overflowing. Too many of us are beating ourselves up believing we fail each day, because we are trying to do the work of three people. Trying to please everyone or to be in two places at once is a very damaging cycle. So the first thing is to realize that we can’t do it all. We can do a lot, and we can feel successful, but we just can’t do it all.

Next, we have to value self-care. Use some kind of a plan book, something rather detailed, and schedule the top three self-care items you have been neglecting. Seriously! You know what they are, whether it is more sleep, a decent meal, or an overdue physical exam, schedule them like an appointment with someone important. We may have to sort of pretend that part at first, that the appointment is with someone important. Many of us have tossed our own personal needs in the back of a closet somewhere, and now we have to learn to meet those needs all over again. And it really is okay to start out that way, if that’s what it takes.

Sure, maybe you look okay on the outside; I’ve done that, believe me! But it doesn’t matter if your nails are painted, your hair is coiffed, and your suit is pressed. If your stomach is in a knot and your head is spinning, you are not fooling yourself. You just can’t lie to your body.

Once you get some self-care scheduled, it is time to get some quiet time into your day. Put the brakes on for a few minutes, sit still, and either look at a soothing view or image or close your eyes. Just breathe. Listen to your breath and notice if your chest is tight or relaxed, see where your shoulders are. Get to know what is going on with your body, where you are holding the stress in your life … because it is in there somewhere. Each time you do this, your day will benefit, your body will thank you, it will break that cycle for a moment and re-set your priorities.