Everything is in motion, from the molecules occupying space to the beating of our hearts. In this moment, I want you to pause and notice your breath. Can you feel your heart beating in your chest? This is how you can start to slow down.
Slowing down is coming down into the moment and consciously quieting down one’s thoughts. Slowing down is taking the time to rest, learning to say “no,” and practicing pauses throughout the day. It is letting go of expectations and pressure so one may appreciate the beauty of life.
Slowing down is a daily practice that may lead to better physical and mental health. In this article, I’ll share some tips with you that will help you start to slow down. These are practices I’ve committed to in my own life, and are helpful when things become intense and stressful.
What Is Slowing Down?
Have you ever found yourself rushing about with a task – you’re trying to hurry and get something done and your thoughts feel rushed themselves? Then, in the midst of trying to get something done, you end up hurting yourself, breaking something, or making a mistake?
Whenever this happens in my life, I immediately see it as a sign to slow down. I am not being present to my task and I may even be filled with negative thoughts towards it as well. When these factors compound, a mistake is almost unavoidable.
When this happens, I take a step back and pause. I notice where my thoughts are, how my body feels, and if I’m being truly present with what is before me. If I’m able to, I may decide to take a break from my task or decide to finish it another time.
This is what slowing down is in day-to-day life – they’re moments to pause, breathe, check-in, and reflect on one’s circumstances. When we start doing this, we’re able to handle overwhelming or stressful things that much better. We give space for ourselves so we don’t immediately react, rather we move forward with more intention and respect for our emotional state.
This is what slowing down is in day-to-day life – they’re moments to pause, breathe, check-in, and reflect on one’s circumstances.
When we take time to slow down every day, it helps us slow down in the big picture of our life. For many of us, we live busy lives full of packed schedules and a never-ending to-do list. We may have a brimming social life full of events and nights out. While these things are a normal part of life, they can easily become imbalanced.
How does one know when they’ve reached a state where they need to slow down in life? For me, it’s when I start to feel easily overwhelmed with little tasks. When something as small as doing the dishes makes me feel stressed and anxious, I know it’s time for me to take more intentional pauses throughout my day.
Why Is It Important To Slow Down?
Slowing down is incredibly important for both our mental and physical health. When we take the time to fully check-in with our surroundings and our inner environments, we have more understanding of where we’re at in life.
When one takes a break to simply look out the window and observe the natural world, great beauty is waiting to be discovered. The soaring of a hawk, a little bird landing by the window, how the wind moves through the trees, and the brilliance of a bright blue sky.
During those pauses, we can find moments of peace and stillness. A break from the never-ending ramblings of our thoughts, and an awareness of how we *actually* feel, not how we think we’re *supposed* to feel.
When one decides to slow down their life on a larger scale, such as decluttering one’s schedule, they’re able to have more time for themselves. This allows more time for activities that lead to better mental and physical health, such as exercising and doing something creative.
In this inspiring video, Kimi Werner describes how slowing down helped her find a more fulfilling life. In the moments she thought she needed to speed up, she found that slowing down was exactly what she needed, especially in the face of a great white shark:
How to Slow Down
Slowing down takes practice, and for some, it can come with challenges because of their conditioning. For some, they were taught that if they slowed down they were lazy or weren’t working hard enough.
If you have these types of thoughts come up when you think about slowing down, I want to tell you that they are simply not true. Slowing down does not equal laziness, it equals taking care of yourself.
So, how does one actually slow down in this fast-paced world of ours? It can start small, with little moments each day of intentional breathing and quieting down one’s thoughts. Here are some things that helped me learn how to slow down:
- Creative expression.
- Listening/deepening my breath.
- Checking in with my senses – can I feel the air on my face, the softness of my clothes against my skin, what are my eyes taking in, and what smells can I detect?
- Allowing myself to daydream and look out the window.
Balancing Work and Life to Slow Down
We live in a society that promotes hustle culture – meaning one should be working as much as they can to achieve their goals. There are times to hustle, and times to slow down, and I believe they go hand in hand for sustainable success.
We need to rest in order to have the energy, motivation, and creativity to keep pursuing our goals. If one grinds themselves into the dirt, they are no longer respecting the needs of their body and mind. Something outside of themselves has now become more important than their health.
To balance work and life, it’s helpful to set limits for yourself. You will work to this time and no longer, and for the rest of the day, commit to home tasks and things you enjoy. Take full days to explore and relax. Give yourself breaks throughout the day to rest your mind for a few minutes. This could look like going outside for a little walk to get fresh air.
Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean taking a break to scroll through social media or read the news. In my honest opinion, that is the opposite of slowing down, as it stimulates the mind and nervous system. These things don’t give your body or mind a break. So if you find that you fall into those habits any time you take a break from work, try to find something else that brings you comfort and *actually” helps you slow down.
Finding Quiet Places to Slow Down
There’s this spot on my land that is my favorite quiet place. It’s under a Hawthorn tree, surrounded by undergrowth, and the only way to get there is through this small path that goes under a tunnel of curving branches.
In this spot, I feel wonderfully isolated from the rest of the world. It is only me, these perfect trees, soft green moss, and curious little birds. When I go to this place, I am intentional with my thoughts, and I try to be as present as I can with my surroundings and my internal environment.
This place is so special to me, it almost feels disrespectful to not be present to it – to have my mind focused on my worries and what other people are doing. I try to focus only on myself and the beauty I am blessed to be witnessing.
Having a safe, comfortable place for one to visit, quiet their mind, and slow down is truly healing to the body, mind, and spirit. Go as you are, bring your frustration, bring your guilt, and let it rest in this quiet space.
Vacationing to Slow Down
Nothing gives you a fresh reset like going on a vacation. Physically leaving your home, job, and schedule can be vitally refreshing. It can help one to not only slow down but also gain new perspectives on their life.
If you feel like you’re stuck in a busy schedule and need to slow down, try taking a break from it and going on vacation. Going on a road trip is my absolute favorite way to get out of my funk. In doing so I see miles and miles of new land filled with stories waiting to be told. Adventures that bring new lessons of life behind every curve.
If you can’t go on a trip, try a mini-day trip to a nearby place you’ve never been. Try a new hike, or visit an art museum. It doesn’t have to be a grand affair, just something new to change the pace and help you slow down.
Benefits of Slowing Down
When one starts to intentionally slow down their life, they will soon find the many benefits that come along with it. This includes having a better awareness of external and internal environments, less stress, and more time to care for yourself. By practicing techniques that help you slow down, such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga, you’ll receive a host of physical, emotional, and mental benefits.
There are times to hustle, and times to slow down, and I believe they go hand in hand for sustainable success.
Mental and Emotional Benefits of Slowing Down
Through meditation and breathwork, one can learn to slow down and quiet their thoughts. Do you ever feel like your thoughts and emotions have control over your life? What if I told you that you can control how you relate to things? For many of us, and myself included, that can feel like an almost impossible feat to achieve. But, it is 100% possible.
Through meditation, we can become more aware of our thoughts and we can choose how we want to relate to them. Simply the art of noticing one’s thoughts takes practice, and meditation can truly help in this process. When we notice our thoughts, we learn more about ourselves and the state we’re in. From there, we have more insight into what needs to be addressed in our lives, and how we might be able to take better care of ourselves. This leads to less stress and more control over our mental and emotional states.
By focusing on the breath, we can bring ourselves out of the thinking mind. Pay attention to each inhale and each exhale, deepening as you continue to breathe. Your mind will naturally start to wander, and this is okay, simply bring it back to the breath. Practicing coming down into the breath is highly beneficial for relaxing our nervous system, which in turn helps bring down one’s anxiety, stress, and/or anger.
Scientific studies published by NCBI have confirmed that deep breathing can switch one’s nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps one feel more relaxed and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Physical Benefits of Slowing Down
When we start to slow down and have more control over our thoughts and actions, we can start to notice the physical benefits as well. As one slows down in life, they are naturally less susceptible to chronic stress, anxiety, or burn-out. These conditions are produced by a worn-out, over-worked nervous system.
When one starts to slow down and have less stress in their life, they’re able to help their nervous system recover. This then helps them be able to respond to or adapt to the stress they experience, rather than feeling completely overwhelmed by things such as traffic or doing the dishes. Plus, when one is experiencing less stress, they help improve their immune and cardiovascular system, as shown in this scientific report from Harvard Medical School.
Other physical activities that help one to slow down, such as yoga, stretching, going for a walk, hiking, etc – directly benefit our bodies because we’re exercising. We all know that exercising is highly beneficial and necessary for a vital, healthy life.
How Do You Make Yourself Slow Down?
First, try coming down into the moment and paying attention to what is around you. Take a pause, check in with your senses, and notice how your body feels. If you feel like you need to expel excess energy to slow down, try doing a yoga practice, going for a walk, or dancing.
How Do I Relax and Slow Down?
Meditation practices are highly beneficial in slowing down, as well as yoga and mindful movements. Try taking a few things off your schedule so you have more time for self-care practices
Ways Real People Slow Down
Everyone has different ways they slow down in life. To have a better understanding of what helps different people slow down, I asked a few of my friends and family what they do to slow down in life. Here’s what I found out:
|Ways To Slow Down||Tally of Family/Friends|
|Focusing on breath/meditation||3|
|Going on a walk||3|
|Listening to music||1|
|Saying “no” to things||1|
|Listening to my body||1|
|Reading a fictional book||1|
- Less Is More – How to Find Happiness with Fewer Things
- Simple Living – Successful Ways to an Easier Life
- Simple Pleasures – Deep, Genuine Experiences for Happiness
- Good Simple Living – Enjoying Experiences over Things
- Simplify Life – Having and Doing Less to Enjoy Much More
In today’s world, learning to slow down is much needed for our physical and mental well-being. Rushing through life really won’t get us anywhere, and it’s in the moments where we slow down where we can truly appreciate our lives. Do you feel like you could slow down in life? What are some things you would like to try in order to slow down?