A Beginner's Guide to Pressing Pause and Slowing Down
October 05, 2021
Going slow and steady doesn't always come naturally to me.
Thoughts like "I'm not doing enough" tend to perpetuate a reckless pace that never ends well.
Of course, some days will require a faster pace. Some days are busier and more demanding than others. Some days feel rushed. Just don't let it be your default.
Defaulting to busy and treating your body like a machine just isn't sustainable. We all have limits, and ignoring them in a bid to "do it all" is a recipe for burnout.
If, like myself, you need some help adopting a slow, steady and more mindful pace, here's a bunch of quotes, affirmations, journalling prompts and anecdotes to help you on your way.
"Rushing through life waters down our experience. It gives us the illusion that we are getting more out of life, but in reality, we are just skimming the surface. Slow down. The richest moments are always the ones that we bathe in completely." –Dr Rebecca Ray
"Life is not a race. You don't start in the same position and everyone isn't going in the same direction. You have your own space, your own pace and your own place you want to get to." –Jay Shetty
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." –Lao Tzu
"You are worth the quiet moment. You are worth the deeper breath. You are worth the time it takes to slow down, be still and rest." –Morgan Harper Nichols
"Destroy the idea that you have to constantly be grinding in order to be successful. Embrace the concept that rest, recovery and reflection are essential parts of the progress towards a successful and ultimately happy life." –Unknown
"Give yourself space to really understand what you might need from the day rather than what the day needs from you." –Jayne Hardy
"If you don't take time for your wellness, you will be forced to take time for your illness." –Joyce Sunada
"That "super woman" that you're watching... wondering how she does it all... Her superpower isn't her ability to do more... Her superpower (and secret) to doing it "all" is her ability to prioritise self-care. That is her real superpower." –Nat Kringoudis
"Nature gave us pain as a messaging device to tell us that we are approaching, or that we have exceeded our limits in some way." –Ray Dalio
I am worthy of rest.
My to-do list can wait.
I choose to live at a comfortable pace.
My peace is more important than a packed schedule.
My wellbeing is my #1 priority.
I am my best self when I am well rested.
Resting is productive.
If there was one thing you could do each day to create more ease, what would it be? How can you incorporate this into your daily routine?
List five self-care activities that make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
What can you delegate from your schedule to create more space?
What do you need to say "no" to for your own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing?
List five self-care activities that take less than 10 minutes. Could you incorporate any of these into your life?
An excerpt from "Hell Yeah or No" by Derek Sivers:
Every time I catch myself rushing, I think about this bike ride. It's helped me slow down and adopt a more leisurely pace on a number of occasions. I hope it does the same for you.
A few years ago, I lived in Santa Monica, California, right on the beach. There’s a great bike path that goes along the ocean for seven and a half miles. So, fifteen miles round trip.
On weekday afternoons, it’s almost empty. It’s perfect for going full speed. So a few times a week, I’d get on my bike and go as fast as I could for the fifteen-mile loop.
I mean really full-on, 100 percent, head-down, red-faced sprinting. I’d finish exhausted and look at the time: forty-three minutes. Every time. Maybe a minute more on a really windy day, but basically always forty-three minutes.
After a few months, I noticed I was getting less enthusiastic about this bike ride. I think I had mentally linked it with being completely exhausted.
So one day I decided I would do the same ride, but just chill. Take it easy, nice and slow. OK, not super slow, but dialing it back to about 50 percent of my usual effort. And ahhh… what a nice ride.
I was relaxed and smiling and looking around. I was barely giving it any effort. I saw two dolphins in the water. A pelican flew right over me in Marina del Rey.
When I looked up to say “wow!” he shit in my mouth. I can still remember that taste of digested shellfish. I had to laugh at the novelty of it.
I’m usually so damn driven, always doing everything as intensely as I can. It was so nice to take it easy for once. I felt I could do this forever, without any exhaustion.
When I finished, I looked at the time: forty-five minutes. Wait — what?!? How could that be?
Yep. I double-checked: forty-five minutes, as compared to my usual forty-three.
So apparently all of that exhausting, red-faced, full-on push-push-push I had been doing had given me only a 4 percent boost.
I could just take it easy and get 96 percent of the results.And what a difference in experience!
To go the same distance, in about the same time, but one way leaves me exhausted, and the other way, rejuvenated.
I think of this often. When I notice that I’m all stressed out about something or driving myself to exhaustion, I remember that bike ride and try dialing back my effort by 50 percent.
It’s been amazing how often everything gets done just as well and just as fast, with what feels like half the effort. Which then makes me realize that half of my effort wasn’t effort at all, but just unnecessary stress that made me feel like I was doing my best.