ways to slow down

14 Ways to Slow Down And Be Present

Have you ever noticed how fast time starts to go with each birthday? That’s because you’re mind has already lived most of your days.

Unlike when you’re a child, as an adult, you set in routines. You know what time is and how each day will feel. You’re learning less and often distracted just to make it through.

Imagine slowing down and returning to the child-like mentality of the days never end. Image having the time to do what you really want.

Trying to slow down is new to me. I call myself the queen of efficiency, which means that I run around like a mad woman trying to get as much done as possible. And then I crash and don’t do anything for days. If this is you, I urge you to stop! I realized how many moments I’d missed because I insisted on staying on top of a to-do list. Afterwards, I’m so tired I don’t even want to spend time with those I love. For me, slowing down was about not doing too much, and it was about leaving space.

One way to simplify your life and begin to enjoy it more is this: slow down. Here are some ways that I have found helpful for slowing down. See where you find yourself and make small changes to get where you want to be.

What Does It Mean To Slow Down

“Slow down or you’ll have a heart attack.”

I’m sure you’ve heard grandma tell grandpa to slow down a time or two.

Slowing down is really just about being present and living every second of life. It’s about being intentional with your thoughts and actions–recognizing the small things. It’s about taking time to do things.

You don’t have to move slowly. You have to think more deliberately. You have to allow your brain time to process activities, conversations, and motions.

Benefits to Slowing Down

Slowing down is a lifestyle. You’ll find that you don’t feel as overwhelmed or anxious when you slow down. You’ll find that your present and you enjoy things more than you did before. You’ll see that you have more time and energy. You’ll have a deeper connection with people. You’ll create more meaningful experiences and improve your mental health without burn-out.

Ways to Slow Down

In today’s modern tech-driven world, we feel pressured to perform. We’re told to multi-task, do more with less, and be as productive as possible. We run on fumes fueled with caffeine, sugar, and a sense of urgency. We never feel like we have enough time to do everything we want.

The work-life balance struggle is real. However, we’re not always more productive. And we don’t always enjoy what we’re doing. More doesn’t always equal better.

A study by Friend 1982 found that time urgency actually hindered performance. Here are some ways to slow down and make your time matter.

1. Plan Ahead

Plan your time well so you aren’t rushed. Make sure to slightly over-estimate the time it will take you to get ready (and get your kids ready), or how long it will take you to get where you are going. You could set an alarm for when you need to wake up or start getting ready to leave.

Here’s the key to helping you slow down: leave space and margin in your life so that an unexpected call from a friend isn’t always cramping your style and leaving you feeling rushed and stressed.

2. Be Intentional With Your Time and Energy

Think about what is necessary. What do you have to do and why? What is truly a necessary part of your life? Ask yourself what is truly important to you.

Make sure you do what is important to you, and do it well.  

When we fill our time with too many things, we can’t do our best job at any of them. Whether it’s your job, your parenting, your house, your friendships…everything suffers to some extent.

But, when we fill our time with only things we believe to be important and necessary, and stop adding more to our schedule when we already have enough on our plates, we are able to do our best and be our best.

We have left margin in our life for intentionality in everything we do. That doesn’t mean we’ll be our best all of the time, but it does mean that we have given us enough space to be successful.

3. Stop Multi-Tasking

I used to pride myself on my multi-tasking skills. After all, this was a highly sought-after skill in American culture, and we all felt the pressure to improve in this area. We were told by employers and other professionals that it was a good thing…a necessary thing to keep up.

But, I think, multi-tasking has stolen our time. Instead of making us more productive, it made us more distracted. When we are doing more than one thing at a time, our attention is divided. We CAN’T give our best to both.

Here are some ideas for single-tasking to get your mind flowing:

Avoid working through lunch. Take time to think (or pray) when you are driving or riding the bus. Enjoy a movie without looking at your phone. Listen to people…REALLY listen. (Don’t try to listen and think of the next thing you will say!) Check your phone and emails at designated times only. Focus on one task at a time.

4. Enjoy the Little Things

Getting to enjoy life more is one of the perks of living a slow life.

First, you need to learn to notice what is happening around you. Notice the breeze, the flowers, the clouds. Notice the smell of your child’s strawberry chapstick or the touch of your partner.

Then, you can slow down enough to take it all in and appreciate the little things for what they are: beautiful and life- enriching.

5. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is a mindset. It’s being thankful for your life and everything in it. Try practicing gratitude first thing in the morning. Upon awakening, verbalize one thing you are thankful for in the day.

Gratitude will slow you down for a moment to recognize what’s important in your life.

6. Learn to Say No

You don’t have to do everything. Learn to say no. Prioritize what matters the most with the time that you have and focus on it. Give it the attention that it deserves.

You don’t have to feel guilty for saying no. In fact, most people will forget about it within the day.

7. Create White Space on Your Calendar

Imagine how slow life is when you take some things off your calendar. Create a while space where you don’t have to do something. Then allow yourself to breathe.

Eliminate any activity that is going to cause you stress. If you can’t eliminate it, give it more time. Get rid of the “gotta get it done quickly” mentality. You deserve to be present and enjoy your life.

8. Take Intentional Pauses

Take a moment to pause and do nothing. Intentional pauses enable you to reflect without excessive worry or thoughts.

Set a timer on your phone or watch for 60 seconds to pause. this action will allow your brain to reset and propel you to be more efficient moving forward.

9. Practice Meditation

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating.

Try sitting and noticing your breath for 2 minutes then move to 3, 5, and 10 minutes. Each time your mind wanders, go back to your breath. Only think about your breath.

Here you are teaching your brain to pause. You are making an intentional practice of focusing on your body rather than the external world.

10. Do Something You Enjoy

Slow down and do something you enjoy. Pay attention to how it makes you feel and what’s going on around you. Connect an emotion to the activity and savor it. You have one life to live. Enjoy it.

11. Eat Slowly

Stop rushing through lunch at the computer screen. Use your five senses and be present for the meal. Eat slowly to slow down time and improve your health.

12. Start a New Hobby

Do something you have always wanted to do. Start a new hobby.

Take the time to learn about the hobby and be present. Use the time and energy you spend on the activity to slow the rest of the world. Only be present in the moment of your new hobby for you.

13. Follow the Two Minute Rule

Give your undivided attention to someone for two minutes. Not only will you slow down, but you’ll make their day.

Stop whatever you’re doing and be present for someone else for two minutes. Look at them while they talk to you. Smile. Ask questions. Enjoy the person in front of you.

14. Get Rid of Clutter

Clutter occupies space in your mind and home. Get rid of it.

Take some time to slow down and de-clutter. Not only will you enjoy your home more, but you’ll save time and money. You’ll have less stuff lying around the house to cause your stress and worry.

Final Thoughts

It’s your life–you deserve to be present for it. Take time to slow down and enjoy the moment with these easy ways to slow down.

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Theresa Bedford is a nationally syndicated writer. Her work has been seen on the Associated Press Wire, Blox Digital, and MSN. She writes about productivity, money, and simple living to help people focus on what really matters in life.