Life does not make it easy to go slow. We are constantly bombarded with fast in every aspect of our life. We have been fed the story that we will somehow ‘miss out’ on something important if we go slow. But that’s bollocks, isn’t it? Fact is, we are missing out on everything important by going too fast.
It’s taken me a long time to realise this. From the moment my first kid was born (hell, probably from the moment I was born myself), I’ve been racing. Racing to achieve, racing to get ahead, but mostly, always, with the sensation of racing to keep up. Now I realise that I’ve been moving my life along at an unsustainable pace and I’m not even sure what it is I want so desperately to keep up with.
There’s always the sensation that everyone else is at least 27 steps ahead of you, isn’t there? That’s how I used to feel, anyway. Little realising that there were probably quite a few people out there who were racing along trying to keep up with me.
My kids for a start.
So, here’s the thing: the only things worth keeping up with in life are the slow things. The things that take time to nurture, settle and appreciate. Family, food, travel, love, nature.
Whatever I was chasing, I lost sight of it a long time ago and I have never felt better.
Life is still busy, of course. You don’t get to be a working mum in this decade without a stupid pace of life to keep up with. But I’ve learned to appreciate my moments and I’m teaching my kids to do the same. Hopefully they won’t fall into the racing trap like I did. Hopefully they’ll grow up knowing that being able to go slow is one of life’s biggest privileges of all.
Here are five ways that I schedule go slow moments into daily life. I promise each of these makes a world of difference.
5 ways to go slow every day
1. Focus on little everyday rituals. Make the small moments count, especially the daily ones.
• Take time when you make a hot cuppa – pause while the kettle boils and you pour your cup. Do a little meditation while you watch the steam rise. Don’t think about much at all and definitely don’t do anything else except observe. Sit quietly while you enjoy your drink, doing something quiet and not at all important.
• Do some stretches before you get out of bed – don’t just leap out. I know they tell us to leap out, but the fact is that we know that as soon as we are up, it’s awfully hard to go back down again. Instead, start the day with a quiet moment of contemplation and energising. Think about what you want to get done during the day and try to delete a couple of things off that list before you even start!
• Listen to music when you’re in the car – a podcast or audio book is quite stimulating and makes us feel like we are still ‘on’. Music, on the other hand, relaxes and reframes our days. Use music to boost you up when you need fortifying, or calm you down when things are stressful.
2. Schedule pockets of slow into your calendar. If we don’t make a commitment, we will never go slow. Simple as that. Even better if you can take these allocated “slow times” outside. It’s been well-documented that getting out in nature is critical for mental health, so add some of that goodness into your day too. You could do something like:
• Take a walk around the block
• Do some gardening
• Lie in a hammock under a tree
• Sit quietly in a park
• Yell obscenities off a cliff
3. Do all the annoying little things well. For years I fought the yucky daily chores that just make you want to run screaming from the house (or is that just me?). Making beds, tidying, wiping bench tops, taking out garbage, doing laundry – you know the domestic drudgery that is just boring as batshit?
Unfortunately, hating on it doesn’t make it go away.
I realised that I was spending a good part of my day hating my life. And that’s no way to live, right? Instead, I decided to take my time and do each of the boring jobs as well as I possibly could. As slowly as I possibly could. I wanted to see if a go slow approach helped increase my general happiness. You bet it did.
Give it a go – I challenge you to give your full focus and heart to all the domestic drudgery and see if you find it more satisfying. I hope this one works for you as well as it does for me.
4. Do a little planning to free up slow time. Menu planning, daily calendar scheduling, decluttering, general child organisation – all of these things take a small amount of daily time to deliver big benefits. The biggest benefit of all is they will all ultimately put time back into your day. Not time to add more things to the To Do list, no, no no. Better than that: time to do nothing much at all.
5. Settle when you all get together. When your family all comes together, is it a frantic rush to get everyone back on track? It might help to introduce a little ritual to help calm you all down and appreciate the day you’ve just had. This might be cooking part of the meal together, sharing the story of your day, even a fun family handshake (don’t ask). We like to spend 10 minutes or so outside together, often with a glass of wine (for the adults!!), closing the day.
What’s your go slow favourite?
Image: Gaelle Marcel