Something someone told me a few weeks ago got me thinking! They told me: “SLOW DOWN”!
I took a moment to think about it and realized that, despite my best intentions and all the planning I did before the start of the year, the one thing that has been consistent in my life over the past few weeks is that I have been literally “racing”! Going from one meeting to the next, chaining projects after projects, rushing to the rugby/soccer training, fitting in some classes & teaching here & there, while making further plans & booking myself on various events for the next 6 months…. January has been & gone since I even noticed it! “Busy” is good, especially when you are self-employed & trying to run a business, but it all depends on the type of “busyness” you are doing. Sometimes it is important to put the brakes on!
So take a quick look at what you have been up to for the past few days & weeks. If any of this resonates with you, it might be time to stop, take a breath and refocus! I truly believe that becoming aware is the first step to any healing. You need to acknowledge where you are at before you can make the changes that you need. For me, it has been about realizing that I am going too fast and need to stop, take a breath & relax. As an energy practitioner, I am lucky to know a few easy tools that can make these changes easy, effortless and even fun!
Here are a few tips to get you started in your new “slow way of being”:
- Take a break from anything “connected” for a while (yes, especially “social” media) – even if it is only the time of a cup of coffee while you watch your kittens playing in the garden. If you can, get outside and enjoy the sun & wind on your face while you savour your cuppa. Start small, do it once a week, then increase the frequency: twice a week, etc. Your energy will love you for this and after a while you will actually crave those little breaks.
- The limbic breathing technique is wonderful to get you grounded in the moment and to slow down. All you do is take a breath on a count of 2, hold it for 1 and release on a count of 4 or more, until your lungs are empty. And then, repeat twice at your own pace. So any time you catch yourself “running” from one tasks to the next, stop & take those 3 breathes. They will instantly change your “stressed” physiology to a more calm & relaxed one. You will gain more focus, increase your attention power and will become even more productive. When practiced daily this technique can help lower diabetes & cholesterol levels, as well as high blood pressure.
- Let go of the need to multitask – some of us (especially women) have been brought up to believe that we should be constantly multitasking. In an ever competing business environment, many can feel under an even stronger pressure to constantly deliver and demonstrate an always increasing set of skills. While the ability to simultaneously do many things can be a useful skill (both privately & professionally), it can also bring you stress, anxiety, burn-out & depression. In recent years, some large organizations have come to realize that it can often be counter-productive. One technique that has been proven to help in this area is the practice of mindfulness. These days, many multinationals organizations even organize classes for their staff and, as a result, see their productivity levels and “happiness at work” increase. You too can do this. There is a multitude of information out there about mindfulness. The great thing about mindfulness, is its portability: you don’t have to book a 90 minute class– you can do it in 1 or 2 minutes, wherever you are. One of my favourite mindfulness tips is the “Let’s stick the kettle on” exercise. Simply make yourself a cuppa, but while you do it, describe (out loud or silently) every step of the process: “Step 1: I fill the kettle with water”. “Step 2: I plug the kettle & switch it on.” “Step 3: I fetch my favourite mug.” “Step 4: I get the milk from the fridge”... You get the idea J While doing this, your mind only focuses on each step and gets a break from the millions of things you will be going back to once you have savoured your lovely cuppa.
- Learn to do nothing – We all deserve a break here & there. In some industries, breaks are a legal obligation of the employers, and are strictly regulated. However, when we don’t have a boss to remind us to take a break, this can be quite tough to do. Too often I catch myself so busy in a project that I don’t realize I have been sitting at the computer for over 3 hours without a single break… So the idea is that, when you catch yourself in need of a break, simply decide that for 1, 2 or more minutes (but don’t overdo it J) you are going to do absolutely nothing! Yes, NOTHING. This can be scary at first…. Like a shock to the system. So to ensure you don’t end up doing nothing all day… (“as if that is likely to happen” I hear you say). I usually put a timer on. This way I can really relax, knowing this blissful period of inactivity will only last for as long as I set it for. Find a quiet place, sit (or stand) and just breathe. You can watch the sky, your garden, your pet, Nature, etc. Just refrain from picking up a paper or checking your texts or doing anything at all. You are allowed to focus on your five sense but that is it! Enjoy J
- Book some time off – Actually plan your breaks! Don’t just think: “when I have finished this I will go for a walk, take the kids to the park, finish my book….” Whatever it is you want to do, make time for it by booking it into your diary. Treat “breaks” like any other appointment (dentist, doctor, etc.) By writing it down, you deepen your commitment to looking after yourself. Ensure that they don’t become yet another “chore” or thing on your to-do list – is to really feel them. Really see, feel with all your senses, how these breaks will make you feel. This will be your reward for completing your tasks. Make sure your breaks are exciting enough for you to really want to enjoy them. Work towards them. Say you start your work at 9 and you have planned a break at 10:30 am. The simple fact of having planned the break will improve your productivity as you will focus on completing the task on time.
Even though you might think that these tips will “waste” your precious time, in fact, because they are increasing your focus & productivity, you will be more productive & save time in the long run.
By practicing these tips regularly, you will not only preserve or increase your energy levels, but also your health. Your stress levels will be reduced with all the benefits that this brings to your health. So remember, don’t fret, don’t stress! Take a big breath in & out, smile and think about this new opportunity to slow down. Make the most of it & enjoy.