Do you ever have those moments when you finally stop to take a breath, and only then do you realize you’re winded and gasping for air? You’re not alone…
At the beginning of the year, I took a few months off from my hectic life to travel and see the world. When I got back home, I got right back in the groove and started running around at warp speed. My days were scheduled down to the minute, I lived in my car, frozen and fast food were the only things on my menu, and the only thing keeping me going was a copious amount of coffee.
I was a zombie moving through the motions of life. I felt like I was in a constant state of lacking, that I was always a step behind, and that I just could not wait to “get there.” (Wherever “there” is.)
And then one day, I hit pause. Out of sheer exhaustion and fear of burning out, I tagged myself out of the game, sat down on the sideline and took a magnifying glass to my routine and my life. There was a severe lack of balance, and I realized that I had been so focused on my destination that I was missing out on the steps it takes to get there. The idea of growing old and someday looking back on my life and wishing I had paid attention was like a bucket of ice cold water to the face.
This was my wake-up call—so I answered. I began to slow down every aspect of my life, and I started to feel alive again. I started to feel grateful for things I hadn’t even realized I was taking for granted before. I felt inspired for the first time in months. I started to feel passionate about the work I was doing. I listened to what other people were saying. I appreciated the little things. I started to see opportunities I would have missed out on if I were still chugging along at full speed.
Bottom line: I started to enjoy my life again. I remembered how good I could feel.
Somewhere along my journey, it was ingrained in my mind that if I’m not busy and downright exhausted because of it, I’m not “doing it right.” In a world that just keeps spinning faster and faster, I got caught up in the hustle—a hustle where “instant” just isn’t quick enough, short cuts are the adult version of candy, and speed has become a lens through which we see and judge people, places and things.
But when I’m moving that fast, tunnel vision sets in, and I end up missing out on what’s happening all around me. I forget to have fun, I take things for granted, and I make silly mistakes. The cure? Patience—and lots of it.
There are two things I know to be true: there will always be something to check off of the to-do list, and the world slows down for no one. But that doesn’t mean that slowing down is any less important—that makes it more important.
If you’re not sure how to begin the process of taking it slow, here are some of my favorite starting points:
- Write a letter. (And send it!)
- Take the slowest lane during rush hour.
- Call somebody. Hell, make a coffee date, and get in some quality eye contact.
- Skip the Keurig and brew a pot of coffee.
- Cook a meal.
- Do something for fun and for that reason only.
- Learn how to knit.
- Read a real, paper-bound book.
- Take the long way home.
- Journal—with a pen and paper.
- Take a road trip.
- Use the stairs.
- Learn something new.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Plant something.
- Play a game of Risk.
- Skip setting an alarm on your day off.
How do you slow down?
Author: Jenna Dailey
Image: Flickr/Emergency Brake
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina