I was telling my coach that I felt like I was constantly running on a hamster wheel. Always rushing from one thing to the next, and never seeming to have enough time to slow down and enjoy life. She told me to slow down. I thought I was (I wasn’t) and I didn’t know how to slow down without stopping. I felt lost, guilty, exhausted and thoroughly fed up. Now, 9 months on, it feels different.
What if I told you that slowing down is actually the key to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life? In this blog post, we'll explore the profound impact of mindset on our ability to slow down and savour life's moments. I’ll share my own experience and why I (now) believe that embracing a slower pace of life is not just a lifestyle choice but a transformation of your perspective.
The Mindset of Speed
We live in a culture that values speed and productivity. We're constantly bombarded with messages telling us that we need to do more, be more, and have more. Most of the time we celebrate the hustle mindset and we equate busyness with success. So it’s no surprise that we try to cram as much as possible into our days. We work long hours, we check our phones constantly, and we fill our free time with activities - either our own or our kids’/partner’s. But all of this rushing and multitasking takes a toll on our mental and physical health:
- Constantly being in a rush and trying to do more in less time can lead to chronic stress and eventual burnout.
- Racing through life leaves little room for deep connections, meaningful experiences, and self-reflection. We may have a lot on our plates, but we're often left feeling unfulfilled and disconnected.
- When we're always in a hurry, we miss out on the beauty and opportunities that surround us. Life becomes a blur, and we fail to appreciate the present moment.
Personally, I was double booking myself, forgetting appointments, and leaving no time between the appointments I did remember, to eat, or even go to the toilet. I was burning the candle at both ends trying to exercise, get my steps in, fit into other people’s schedules, get my kids off the screens, prepare healthy homecooked dinners and be everything to everyone. I'd become a zombie. I never laughed, I shouted at the people I loved most and I lived in a perpetual state of guilt. I knew I had to do something but I couldn’t see a way off the hamster wheel.
The Slowing Down Mindset
My coach Lisa told me straight: “Slowing down is not about doing less. It's about changing your mindset.” I thought that slowing down was basically stopping, and I only did that when I was forced to. Every time we worked together or in our group calls the answer was (almost) always slow the f**k down, Charlie.
I resisted it, I thought I was doing it. I tried taking stuff out of my diary; I tried adding different colours/reminders, but in the end, she was right. Of course, she was right from the start, it just took me an age for the lightbulb to warm up! This was the thing that lit the little lightbulb: busy is best is not the truth with a capital T.
Lisa helped me see that I was taking on stuff to prove to myself that I am enough, that I can prove to myself and others that I can get stuff DONE. What a HERO. This allows me to be validated and recognised. Busy is best can be true, but it’s not always True.
I looked at my life when I wasn’t super busy (either actually getting stuff done or telling myself that I was, when actually, I was procrastinating) and life felt easier. I felt more relaxed, I was kinder to the people I love, I was more connected to myself and my clients. It felt effortless.
And so I learnt that when you slow down, you're able to focus on what's truly important to you. You're also able to connect with your inner self and find peace and contentment. You make space for those inspired thoughts to filter through. These inspired thoughts become inspired action and in turn, we create more.
What I learned from slowing down
Presence Over Productivity
When you slow down, you prioritize presence over productivity. You learn to be fully engaged in whatever you're doing, whether it's work, spending time with loved ones, or simply enjoying a meal. This mindset shift enhances the quality of your experiences.
Slowing down encourages mindfulness. It's about paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment. Mindfulness helps you gain insight into your inner world and this transforms your mental wellbeing.
Gratitude and Contentment
A slow mindset cultivates gratitude and contentment. By experiencing each moment, you become more aware of life's simple pleasures, leading to increased happiness and reduced stress. You also create new neural pathways - so cool!
Slowing down allows you to think more clearly and make better decisions. When you're not rushed, you can connect to your inner wisdom/intuition/voice. You can consider the pros and cons, evaluate your priorities, and make meaningful choices that align with your values.
Rushing through life can strain relationships, but slowing down fosters deeper connections. When you give your full attention to the people you care about, you build stronger bonds and create lasting memories.
Practical Tips for Slowing Down
Now that you understand the importance of a slow mindset, here are some practical tips to help you embrace it:
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, such as meditation, yoga, or simply taking a few deep breaths.
- Set boundaries. Learn to say no to commitments that don't align with your values or priorities. This will help you create more space in your life for the things that are truly important to you.
- Disconnect from technology. Take breaks from your phone, computer, and TV. Constant digital stimulation fuels the need for speed and can make it difficult to focus and relax.
- Savour moments. Take time to appreciate the small moments in life, such as a cup of coffee with a friend, a walk in nature, or a good book. I recently saw these moments described as glimmers - which I love.
- Prioritize self-care. Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine. Choose things that really fill your cup. It's not selfish; it's essential for your well-being.
Slowing down is not always easy, nor is it a sign of laziness or complacency; it's a conscious choice. When you slow down, you're able to live a more mindful, intentional, and fulfilling life. So next time you feel like you're running on a hamster wheel, take a deep breath and slow down. Your mind and body will thank you for it.