I used to blame my speediness on the PopTarts my mother fed me for breakfast in the 80s. But later, when I was an adult living on my own, and I stopped eating processed foods, I still felt wired all the time.
And for years, I identified that feeling of over-drive as a sign that I was innately productive ... or at least doing something right. A day spent racing from appointments to meals to dates seemed like an excellent way to live life. I was getting sh*t done.
Then I began teaching yoga. I'd like to pretend that teaching yoga immediately taught me that presence is the act of doing one thing at a time. But man, did that lesson take some time to learn. I was teaching seven classes a day, trying to be social and have a flourishing relationship when I realized that I wasn’t living. I was just doing, doing, doing.
If you can relate to that way of being, there are some ways to slow down and take the pressure off yourself, even if you love being Type A.
1. Experiment with some changes in your morning routine.
If you're a Speedy Gonzalez, you probably feel pressure to get moving the minute the alarm goes off. Breakfast is made, emails are sent, hair is done. But remember: it's possible to get all that same stuff done even if you choose to slow down during the first moments of each day.
Make a choice to approach the pace of your days differently. Separate from the early rush. Try hearing the alarm, turning it off and sitting in bed. Five minutes of breathing or a yoga pose or two is all it takes to set the tone for a day that isn’t rooted in stress.
2. Allow yourself to really eat.
When life feels like one task after the other, meals can become bites here and bites there. Not every meal has to be sit down, but at least once a day take the time to pay attention to what goes in your mouth, and celebrate it! Chew your food and look around you. There is life beyond your Smartphone.
3. Realize where your energy is going.
We all like to say “I’m so busy." But what exactly do we mean when we say this? Odds are, what most of us are really saying is this: “What you are asking me to do is not my priority.”
So be more rigorous with how you're thinking about time management. Is all your time going to work or preparing meals? Do you have any time for great conversations, laughter or sex? If you don’t have any time for the people that matter to you, it's worth stopping to reconsider where your energy is going.
4. Know what keeps you sane.
On those days when you feel pulled in a million different directions, what keeps your feet on the ground? Is it a deep breath, the sound of your partner, or some good old-fashioned pet therapy? Whatever works when you are racing to get through the week should be a part of every day. The more you do these things, the more you realize the delicious moments that are available to you.
5. Feel empowered by listening (and know that talking isn't always helpful).
Sometimes we are so concerned with the anxieties we feel in our own minds, that we don’t even notice what's going on around us. Being "so busy" and "stressed" keeps us from realizing that our friend is grieving or our parents are struggling. Sound familiar?
Well remember that the very act of listening requires that we slow down. So try to listen intentionally. Call someone with the prime purpose of having them talk to you. Your story can be put on a shelf for a moment. Challenge yourself to listen every day. To truly listen, you have to be in the moment and you can’t be multitasking.
6. Don’t be scared of a little silence.
I have found in my own life that when I was always trying to meet friends or listen to music, I was literally trying to drown out the voice in my head. Some time for introspection each day tells us how we are really doing. A little silence and a little slowness can bring to light where we are going and if that is aligned with where we want to be.
If worse comes to worse and you've skimmed this article because you're just too darn busy, go for the tried and true. Pause, take three breaths and give yourself a break.
Photo Credit: Stocksy