Last week on the Intentional Ten Podcast, I focused on slowing down as a way to allow more intentionality and peace in our lives. In that I described my personal journey of reducing our expenses and then reducing my work hours in order to have more time to be home with the kids, to prepare meals, to sort our lives and appointments, and to enjoy some self-care (and not to mention, be able to focus and juggle all my daughter's therapy and medical appointments related to her genetic disorder). I explained that it took us a few years to begin to align things, start to slow down, and eventually have less on our plates. I still highly recommend big picture lifestyle changes if you want to find more joy, but if you're not interested in major life changes, there are still some ways to make small changes to slow down NOW.
1. GO FOR A WALK
Block a 30 minute time for quiet. Maybe you listen to music, a podcast (hint hint) or just the sounds of nature! But I guarantee this time will invoke feelings or relaxation and slowness for at least a short period of time (if not more).
2. SIP YOUR COFFEE IN SILENCE
I love this one and I recommend it often. We have often lost the art of food and drink because we hold meetings over coffee, do deals over meals, and catch up on life stories while inhaling our food and drink without intention. So break the mold and wake up thirty minutes early one day. Brew your coffee, enjoy the aroma, and sip it while reflecting in silence or journaling. Your morning will feel slower with this habit.
3. READ A BOOK BEFORE BED
Let go of Netflix and your smartphone here and there and go to bed thirty minutes early one night and read. Don't have a book? Check out your local library for an e-book that you can download on the fly. There are a ton of great reads out there for free!
4. SET A LIMIT OF APPOINTMENTS PER DAY
Early in being a part-time stay at home mom, I realized that some days were busy and crazy which then meant the kids were hungry, tired, and cranky (and so was I). Between doctor appointments, therapy sessions, playdates, errand running, and more, some days I was running from 7a-5p with three kids under three. Crazy! So I set a rule for myself. I would only allow us to book ONE engagement per day. If there was an urgent extra thing like a doctor appointment, then I would allow one per morning and one per afternoon, but that was a rarity. If extra things came up, then something else had to be cancelled or rescheduled. We often let our schedules run wild because we CAN fit things in, but that doesn't mean its good for us to fit everything in. It's OK to set your own boundaries and limits and then stick to them.
Remember, this doesn't have to look like a monk sitting on a cushion in lotus pose. Learn more about meditation here, but you can always just set a 5-10 minute timer, close your eyes and take some deep breathes. Do a body scan from head to toe and envision all the muscles from your eyebrows to your ankles melting into relaxation. I've literally dissolved a headache this way. It's powerful. I promise.
So if you've read this list and love it, great! Give it a shot. But if things still don't click for you, let's reframe slowing down. Ask yourself, "How can I slow down in my life?" Start by making a brief list of things that you LOVE to do. They can be super simple or small, but create your list and then reflect on it. Second, make a list of your regular habits/appointments/requirements that you HATE. For me, it's folding laundry. UGH. Make your list of good and bad and be really mindful of the things that stress you and the things that liven you up. Pencil in one good thing each day (no more than 30 minutes to keep it simple in the beginning) and then try to minimize, delegate, or simplify one thing you hate. Start there, and then little by little see where you go!
I hope these tips guide you to find a little more space in your life, both physically and mentally. Let me know how it goes!