By Caroline Bujold
Research after research is telling us we need to slow down, that we need a break from our frenetic lives and that slowing down is good for us. Easier said than done for many.
To me summer seems like the perfect time to try to take our activities down a notch. Everyone is so overbooked all the time.
I’m not talking about a meditation retreat, although if that floats your boat, go for it.
I’m talking about little things, like going for a walk or watching a sunset. With all that is going on in the world right now, slowing down and taking the time to appreciate life seems more important than ever.
Last month, during our camping trip, there was no cell service in two of the campgrounds we were staying at, forcing us to let go of our devices. It took a few days, but it made me realize how my brain is on hyper drive all the freakin’ time.
So after we came back, I decided to at least try to slow things down a bit.
10 ways to slow down this summer
1. Stop and smell the roses … literally
Go to your favourite garden or garden centre even and spend the afternoon just perusing, without any other intention. Walk along the pathways (or alleys) and look at all the different shapes and colours.
Some garden centres have the complete experience with coffee shops and demos. Just hang out.
2. Mute the notifications on your phone
Or better yet, turn them off completely.
And while you’re at it, leave your phone at home for a couple of hours, a day or even a whole weekend.
Summer is the perfect time to experiment with a digital detox.
3. Try something new
A new hobby, a new meal or restaurant you’ve never tried, a new route on your way to work, etc. It doesn’t have to be big. Go to your local library or bookstore and ask for a recommendation in a genre you don’t usually read.
When you’re a newbie, you pay more attention and you need to slow down to adapt to your task or your new environment.
4. Go for a picnic.
When you eat Alfresco, things sort of slow down on their own.
Don’t cook anything. Just stop at your local grocery store, grab a loaf of bread, some cheese, roasted chicken, pre cut fruit and veggies, maybe some dip and refreshing drinks and head on over to your favourite park. Plop down on the grass or a park bench and dig in.
That’s what we lovingly call “stuff on a plate“ and we have regular “picnics“ at home or in the backyard when we don’t feel like cooking. Takes the pressure right off.
5. Read a real book
Not from any device. Pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read, preferably a novel, and dive in. No learning, no How Tos, no self help, just a story with great characters you get to meet and tag along on their adventures.
6. Drive like you’re on a permanent vacation
If you have to drive anywhere, instead of fighting your way through your commute or on your way to the lake, let people in. Drive like you have all the time in the world. Be the most courteous driver of all times, You won’t be late, I promise, and your stress level will definitely go down.
7. Eliminate a task or a project from your To Do List forever
There are always things we want to do that we never get to. Either they are not important enough or not interesting enough for us to actually get into them.
Make peace with that task or project and release it into the wild. Maybe it will find it’s person elsewhere and you will feel liberated.
8. Take a nap
Preferably in a hammock, outside in the shade … but anywhere will do. Allow yourself to rest. Rest is good for the soul and for creativity.
If like me, you have trouble napping, just relax and daydream.
9. Handwrite a letter to a loved one
Writing by hand will take some time; so slowing down will come more naturally.
Journal, even if you don’t keep a journal. Grab a notebook or a piece of paper and ramble. Write about your day, about your week, about the next vacation you want to have or about emotions you’re feeling. You don’t even need complete sentences; just write down what ever comes into your mind.
10. Do nothing
For 5 minutes, or 10 or 60.
Not in front of the TV. Just sit … and do nothing.
How do you slow down? And what benefits do you find in slowing your pace down?
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