The Benefits of Slowing Down

We are all busy, it seems. Constantly preoccupied with what’s coming next, planning for the next event, the next big life goal, always trucking along, moving forward. While it is good to plan things out and work on achieving goals, sometimes we need to be reminded to slow down.

Dad and Daughter

Our lives are happening right in front of us and many of us are missing it. We are so busy worrying about what is coming next, what we should be doing, that we are missing the moments we are part of currently. Slowing down is a challenge for many of us. It is hard to sit still and keep our minds focused on what is happening right here, right now. But, with a little practice, big things can happen— we can start to enjoy all the wonderful things we already have.

Being Mindful

One of the first things I encourage clients to ask themselves is — does it really matter? So what if you miss a phone call, are late to answering an email, or forget to move the laundry the night before? Is it really that horrible? How bad would it be if you had to put it off until tomorrow? In most cases, the answer would be: not too bad at all. So, instead of rushing to get dishes done and laundry started after dinner, stop and play a game with your children. That is the stuff that will stick with you. Those are the memories that you will hold near and dear to your heart. 

It is all about being more mindful, the practice of turning off our brains so we can be present. The more present we are, the more of those special moments we can soak up. Mindfulness helps us to be more grateful for what we have because we are taking the moment to truly appreciate things. It doesn’t hurt to do less. You don’t have to over-commit yourself. You don’t have to be in a constant state of living up to who you think you should be. Decide what is really important and focus on that, let the rest go. 

Turn it off

Disconnect. We are always so connected these days. Emails and texts are immediately seen and replied to, and while there are benefits in such technology it can easily take over your day and distract you from the present. Put your phone in a drawer for an hour a day. Make a rule to have no phones at the dinner table or no technology from the hours of 7 pm to 9 pm every day. Whatever works for you and your family. 

Stop. Take time to literally stop what you are doing and look around. Take in nature, listen, look, smell. Use your senses. Make eye contact with people, have conversations. Turn the TV off and engage your family, talk to your spouse, cook a meal with no distractions. Stop rushing to the next place. It is ok to be late every once in a while. Eat slow. Stop rushing through meals. Enjoy the taste, the smell, be thankful you have this delicious food to eat when others do not. 

Breathe. Breathing can do wonders at bringing yourself back to earth. If you find yourself getting distracted, leave the room, go to the bathroom, focus on your breathing. It’s simple — count 1,2,3 breathe in and 1,2,3 breathe out. The results can be amazing. 

If you find that you are constantly struggling with mindfulness and could use some help in directing your thoughts, contact a licensed mental health professional. They can help to offer suggestions catered to your lifestyle. 

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Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC

Alison is the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice in Salunga (East Hempfield), PA. She loves helping clients find practical solutions to improve their lives and her therapy is cooking. She can be reached at: alison@moveforwardlancaster.com.