If the pace of your life has sped up to hyper-speed, and you can't reach the bottom of the to-do ist, try a new strategy: slow down. When you are spinning out of control in the tornado, find the eye of the storm to rest in. Here are 10 easy ways to do this:
1. Power nap. Fifteen minutes will do it – recharge your batteries, reduce stress, fire up creativity. Press reset on your nervous system. I call it creative loafing....or the power of the pause.
2. Move your body. Get outside and take a whiff of fresh air. Do a walking meditation – focus on your in-breath and out-breath for ten minutes as you put one foot in front of the other. This cleanses the cobwebs from an overactive mind. Or walk with a friend or co-worker and get some feel good boosters from having company as you wake up your mind with nature.
3. Make a cuppa and put on some music. Tea rituals in Morocco and Japan are even used by businessmen – take the time to savour the flavours and the moment. Drink some decaf green tea or chamomile instead of that fourth cup of coffee. Music is also a great relaxer. If it’s soothing instrumental music, it may even help you focus.
4. Do one thing at a time and breathe. Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so stop, take a few deep centering breaths and reconnect to the parasympathetic nervous system. Sit with your back resting against the back of a chair, and feel each out-breath grow longer than the in-breath. This brings you into deeper resonance with the rhythms of your body, slows your heart rate and allows your mind to unhook from anxiety or worry. One to three minutes.
5. Use Food to come to your senses. Indulge in the sights and smells of colourful fruits and vegetables at a local farmers’ market. Try a new cheese. Experiment with making home-made soup. Add some invigorating ginger and garlic to a soothing broth. Make something from scratch. Wake up your taste-buds.
6. Create a tech-free zone in your home for one day a week. (OK, start with an afternoon): Unplug the laptop, IPad, Blackberry, IPhone, email, cell phone, whatever has you hooked up and connected to cyberspace 24-7. Detox from technology once a week, and feel your nervous energy calm down. Imagine an hour of silence...how restful that would be.
7. Surrender some items from the to-do list. Put off until tomorrow what absolutely doesn’t need to be done today. Be happy with scratching two things off your list and getting those done. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy – just that Superwoman/man needs to hang up her cape and take a brief sabbatical. Yeah, the root word is Sabbath, that day off we used to take once a week?
8. Learn how to say no, gently. If you have a hard time with this, get out your journal and make a list of what feeds you and what drains you. If the ‘drains me’ list is longer, start by cutting back on one of those activities or obligations. If that’s not possible (say it’s cooking meals for your elderly parent), then enlist some help. You deserve a break. Caregivers especially need to set boundaries.
9. Play more. When life is all work and no play, Jack or Jill is a very dull boy or girl. Loosen up, get out the Wii game and beat the kids at it. Try Rock–band and let your inner David Bowie out to play. Moms especially need to learn from Dads (who know how to do this) – or ignore the pile of laundry for one hour and go outside and build a snow fort!
10. Ground yourself. When things are spinning out of control, take drastic measures. Close the door to your office or bedroom, sit with feet planted on the floor, and breathe into your feet. Imagine a cord is growing from your tailbone down to the earth like the roots of a tree. Imagine your breath going up and down your spine into this grounding cord. This absolutely slows down the maelstrom and reconnects you to your inner core. Take ten minutes with some soothing music.
There you have it – ten quick ways to slow down, and give yourself a break. Give the world the gift of your serene presence. Love your life again.