How to disconnect, move slow and steady, and stay mindful
We live life at an egregious pace, hardly slowing down long enough to realize what they’re doing. There’s dozens of research studies I could cite right now proving that we need to slow down to improve our health, and that slowing down would be the solution to many of our problems.
“Slowing down is not always easy, but there are many gems to be found at a gentler pace.”― Brittany Burgunder
If you find yourself running life at a full on sprint without any margin or slowing down, I hope these tips help you find a reasonable pace again — one at which you can actually enjoy your life and live it mindfully.
1: Never check your phone first thing
Leave it in another room if you have to. For a while during my freshman year of college, I would actually plug my phone up downstairs by my front door, which happened to be the farthest location from my bedroom that my phone could be in my apartment. This made looking at my phone first thing in the morning impossible and made it much easier to choose a better first engagement for the day.
“It is okay to own a technology, what is not okay is to be owned by technology.”― Abhijit Naskar, Mucize Insan: When The World is Family
Oftentimes, we plug in our phones right next to our heads. As a result, it becomes the first thing that’s what we look at and engage with, often before we’ve greeted our loved ones, worked on something important to us, or had a thought of our own. It’s no wonder we get to the end of our days, weeks, and years and wonder why we didn’t accomplish our goals or make a meaningful contribution to the world — we were too busy scrolling social media or answering notifications we didn’t really care about in the first place.
While I certainly wouldn’t recommend getting rid of your phone and technology altogether, we have to set reasonable boundaries with our tech to make it work best for us and our mission. So my recommendation? Don’t let your phone be the first thing you engage with each day. Try a book, a conversation, or a pretty sunset.
2: Let things be simple and easy
One truth I still have to remind myself of each day is that life doesn’t have to be complicated. Sure, there are complexities that are difficult to comprehend and problems that aren’t always so easily solved, but things are not often as complicated and deep as they seem. Sometimes you have to let things be simple and easy, to slow down and meditate on the clarity sitting before you.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.”
― Richard Carlson, Ph.D., Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff
Just today, I was able to slow down and simultaneously calm down while working out my schedule for next semester. Rather than worrying furiously about picking the best classes and adjusting my schedule to reflect my most daring goals and plans, I took a step back and realized how many semesters I have left. It’s okay if I don’t take all of my favorite classes this semester. I have more time and can make a note to register for those classes in future semesters. And in the end, any decision I make will only be relevant for the next few months.
Because I let the situation be as simple and easy as it really was, I wasn’t hurrying to find the right solution or beat anyone else. I simply saw what was before me and executed on the little information I had and needed, then concluded that I was happy with my decision and moved on. Just like that — simple and easy.
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3: As much as you can, handwrite things
I know, I know, in a world of digital calendars and to-do lists, sometimes handwriting things seems silly and primitive. But there’s no doubt that it helps us to slow down and see what really matters. I keep a lot of my journal in Notion, for things that I think of on the go or when I don’t happen to have my journal in my hands.
But my paper journal, contained in the pages of my trust Leuchterm 1917, brings me to a mental and emotional place that no other notebook or any sort of application can bring me to. There’s something about the act of handwriting my thoughts, feelings, and ideas about life onto a page where I can feel the ink make indentations in the paper and life makes more sense.
“Handwriting is a spiritual designing, even though it appears by means of a material instrument.”― Euclid
Whenever you get a chance, put pen to paper. Whether that’s to get some thoughts out, to keep a journal, or to write your own paper planner and to-do list, I’d recommend implementing it into your daily practices whenever possible. When your hand slows down to write and think, so will your mind and life.
4: Practice “being mode”
There are two different ways that we go through life, two modes that we tend to switch between. We go from being to doing and back again. In order to slow down, I think we have to intentionally step more into “being” mode. We can’t constantly produce and make outputs if we never sit and take in the present moment and experience what’s happening around us.
“Treasure yourself for being, not doing.”
― Gina Greenlee, Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road
Practicing “being mode” allows us to not only acknowledge ourselves as humans and validate our experience, but it also helps us to “do” much more effectively. We’re able to see more clearly, decide what’s most important, and see where our energy would best be spent in order to achieve what we want to achieve in the world. Being helps us slow down and make good choices, see what we value, and live our life to the fullest. Don’t just keep “doing” and lose yourself in the process, make “being” a practice.
5: Stay mindful and pay attention to your life
Mindfulness is talked about left and right in self-development and personal growth literature for a reason. It’s a great practice and something that truly helps people in all realms and walks of life. It helps athletes to perform better, parents to parent better, students to take tests with increased preparedness, and people everywhere to conquer depression, anxiety, and other struggles.
“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you want to slow down and stop running life at a break neck speed, start implementing mindful practices that work for you. Whether that be tech-free walks, reading, meditating, journaling, or some other practice, implement something that helps you stop and smell the metaphorical roses. Pay attention to your life. Notice what’s going on. Decide whether you like how it’s going or if you want to change it — you’ll not only live slower but much more intentionally and effectively.
I will reiterate here what every other writer exploring the concepts of speed, hurry, mindfulness, and rest has written about — the simple idea that a life lived quickly and intensely is not a life lived better or one that is more effective or leaves a more lasting legacy.
History has documented individuals who knew what few things deserved their attention, and they proved that slow and steady does win the race by moving intentionally but slowly in the direction of their goals. I would recommend the same movement yourself, as you try to make it down the road to your goals and plans.
I hope that these recommendations have already helped you to brainstorm ways that you can slow down your life, ultimately eliminating unnecessary commitments and plans from your life while narrowing focus on what matters.
CONTRIBUTED BY Katie E. Lawrence
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