4 Ways to Slow Down

I did not write for three weeks and it was on purpose. At first, I thought I would skip a post, and then it was two posts and then three.

Then I thought, “Okay, I will write tomorrow.” Then I would change my mind. Finally, I decided I must need to slow down.

I have been learning things right and left as I have been writing for you. This time, I learned I needed to slow down to a full stop.Everyone has a full plate. I have joked in the past that my problem is not that my plate is full but that I eat from several tables.

Each of us benefit from slowing down. Our work benefits from our slowing down. Our relationships benefit. Our health benefits.

Just slow down and watch what happens . . . here are four ways.

1. Do the work in front of you.

As a list-maker I sometimes get paralyzed by making lists and then being overwhelmed by them. The myriad number of tasks awaiting each of us can be daunting and frustrating.

We must prioritize the critical tasks, but we can find great relief if we do the work in front of us. Each completed tasks represents one less on the list–even if that task was not the most important.

2. Take a technology fast.

Two weeks ago, when I was particularly stressed out by a number of work and personal challenges, I took a technology fast. It was liberating.

For twenty-six hours I did not check email. Since I have five separate emails addresses I regularly use a significant rythmn of my life slowed to a stop.

I didn’t grab my iPhone every five minutes, I didn’t check my iPad, nor did I peek at the computer. I left all my iDevices alone.

3. Stop doing nonessential things.

This one represents a particular challenge because it requires choices. When we need to slow down, making another choice can be debilitating.

Yet, there are things we do that are unnecessary. Perhaps incessantly checking email may be one of those things for you, or maybe it might be surfing the web to avoid the lists you have, or it may even be saying “yes” too many times.

Slowing down ultimately reflects the choices we make for what is most important in our lives. Say “no” to things that can wait.

4. Exercise.

It is funny how exercise incorporates the previous three ways to slow down.

Exercise calls you to concentrate on the task at hand. It can take you away from technology unless you are obsessed with your pace or performance. It requires you to arrange your time for the importance of taking care of yourself.

After an incredibly challenging academic year, I discovered a need to slow down. I have worked on these four things all week and I am feeling more rested and focused than I have felt in weeks.

On this Friday afternoon, as you move into the weekend, give yourself the gift of slowing down. Choose just one of the items from the list above and let me know if it helps.

What are your ways to slow down? When do you know you need to slow down? What are your biggest challenges to slowing down?

  • Pam

    Good words, Darrell. I am a list maker, too, especially when I have lots of events and tasks facing me. I find making lists helps with prioritizing, and crossing items off the to-do list is energizing. I confess I am addicted to my electronic devices. Hopefully with warmer weather and the opportunity to work outside, I will step way from the iphone/ipad/email. Enjoy the weekend!

    • DarrellGwaltney

      I, too, get energized when I cross off items on the list but sometimes the list psyches me out!

      Give the technology fast a shot, even for a day or an afternoon and you will see how great it is . . . .

      Be well!

  • Pam Brown

    Thank you, Darrell. Earlier this week I wrote a blog post about to be self care. It was inspired by my choice to intentionally slow down one morning. I felt so great the rest of the day. I’m making a conscious effort to do at least one thing a day that I consider self care.

    • DarrellGwaltney

      Great to hear from you, Pam! I hope you all are well.

      I missed your post so I’ll go back and read it. I like the idea of “self-care” because we are often so encouraged to care for others we lose track of our need to care for ourselves. Thanks for adding that to the conversation!