Giving yourself permission to slow down

In our society we tend to rush and run around. Type A is an ideal. Work hard, play hard. But is this healthy and sustainable?

Arguably, this fast-paced lifestyle can be to blame for anxiety, depression and burnout as we look at social media and the lifestyles of others and feel we are falling short and then try to work harder to “do it all.”

I have faced this challenge myself, the “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and wanting to do it all from work to passion projects to time with friends. I have often fallen into patterns of go go go only to crash and burn a few months later and need weeks of recharging. What I most likely did was run on adrenalin and run down my body leading to fatigue and often even getting sick.

What I am working on is slowing down and working towards a more sustainable pace and energy. Perhaps a silver lining of this current pandemic is it has forced a lot of people to slow down. Bars and restaurants are closed, and we are trying to stay within our households as much as possible. It has certainly helped me slow down and reminded me of the goals for balance I have often strived for pre-pandemic. So … pandemic, lock-downs and social distancing aside, how can we slow down, find a more sustainable pace and enjoy our daily lives more?

1) Give yourself permission to slow down. Often the reason we have a hard time slowing down is because of guilt. Guilt that we are not doing enough. Working hard enough, being a good enough [fill in the blank] friend, mom, son, etc., pursuing enough of our hobbies. You heard right … even hobbies can be guilt inducing! Ever buy that fancy paint kit because you really want to get into abstract painting and then it just sits there? Guilty as charged. So, repeat after me: “I give myself permission to slow down.” It is okay not to do it all! Whatever all even is. And if it is a hobby that’s stressing you, it’s okay not to do that too. It is okay to literally do nothing sometimes. Sit, read a book, watch a movie. Or maybe watch that Netflix guilty pleasure series or just lie on your bed doing nothing and feeling the sensations of lying down and savoring that.

2) Let go of guilt and worrying about what others will think. Who are these mysterious “others” anyway? Friends? Social media followers? If they are true friends, they will not care or judge. And if they judge, they are not true friends. So, let go of that fear of what others will think and the guilt that you are not living up to the expectations of others, and, simply put, do what is right for you. Even when that means sometimes saying no to someone else and yes to yourself. Repeat after me: “ You are allowed to slow down and simply be. You are enough just as you are.”

3) Do it! Or rather don’t do it. All right, now that you’ve given yourself permission to slow down and have released guilt and expectations, it’s time to, well, do it or not do it, more like, and slow down. If you’ve been in go mode, this can be hard sometimes. Maybe start with a few slow deep breaths. Maybe sit outside, ideally somewhere in nature. Maybe with a book … maybe not. Perhaps a gentle walk. Maybe indulging in a mindfully eaten pastry or piece of chocolate. Soften your body and mind and engage the senses to be fully in the present moment experience.

And with that I’ve had a rather busy morning of “doing” including writing this blog post, so I’ll bid you goodbye for now and I’m going to go “be” myself. See you next time.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

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