“There is more in life than increasing its speed” Mahatma Gandhi
On holiday in South Africa we stayed in a wonderful place on the Garden Route called Sedgefield “The Slow town”, what a delight! Somewhere that values being “slow“.
In these days we do everything in such a rush, gobbling our meals at our desks, or while watching TV, stressing if stuck in queues at the post office or supermarket, always trying to “multi-task” and squeeze so much activity into our day. We may not be aware of the cost of this superspeed activity, but it is likely that our health will suffer unless we learn to slow down. Physicians call this chronic state of pressure Time Urgency Impatience– TUI.
Yet the passage of time is relative. Have you noticed how time flies when we are busy, or are enjoying ourselves, yet drags when we are bored, or are doing an activity we don’t enjoy. The units of time are actually constant, but we find they shrink or expand depending on our thoughts. We have the ability to “slow our thoughts down”, but how often do we?
It isn’t easy to slow down in a fast paced world. So often we find we are able to unwind on holiday, only to find the pressures ratcheting back up again when we return to our daily work routines.
Practising meditation is a good start, and other forms of exercise that include relaxation and reflection such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Walking can help us to savour time. Doing crafts, painting, reading, listening to music can also help us to take back the control of our body clock.
Why not try some of these other activities to help to slow down:
- Set your priorities about what you decide is important and make sure your schedule and your attitude put this into practice. If increasing exercise high in your priorities switch off the TV for an hour and free up time to go for a walk. If you know you need to do more exercise, timetable it into your day at the time when you have the energy to follow through. If you prioritise relationships, then get in touch with your friends for a chat or meet with them instead of messing around on social networks.
- Concentrate on the task in hand although we tend to pride ourselves at being able to multi-task, this splits our consciousness across several activities, and we can’t feel deeply or think clearly. If we practice mindfulness in savouring the task in hand – even mundane activity – we can let our brains slow down
- Wake up gently Unless you feel invigorated by jumping up immediately that the alarm goes off in the morning, try to use a few minutes to welcome the day, savour the waking moments, think about what is worth waking up for, and prepare yourself for a day ahead
- Watch-free time In the evenings and at weekends try taking off your watch, stop looking at the clock and let go of the need to chase time. You may find you feel less anxiety.
- Find your centre use the techniques of meditation and relaxation to discover your patience, turning off your stress and re-charging your batteries.
- Resist road rage remember the tortoise and hare story, slow and steady can win the race. Don’t see every traffic queue as a deliberate trap to make you run late, instead perceive the red traffic light as an opportunity to practice some positive thinking, as extra time that you have been given on your journey for you to practice some deep breathing and improving your posture.
The idea is not to slow down completely, but to do things at the right speed which is sometimes quick but sometimes is slow. Take control of the time in your life and increase your productivity, creativity and relaxation.