Sometimes life goes so fast we think we need to keep up.
But when we try to keep up, we end up pushing the gas and life goes even faster. This creates a negative looping, a cat and mouse if you will.
Everybody moving so fast. Makes you feel like you’re already part of the past.Ray LaMontagne
We find ourselves in a game of catch up that we never wanted to play.
We’re the mouse.
When we are in this loop, it seems like the best thing to do is to gain control by calling the shots—by trying to control people or things we can’t. Or we may shut down completely—what people mean when they say they feel stuck.
Neither of these options are helpful and cause suffering, depression, anxiety and poor mental and emotional well-being.
Negative Effects of Not Slowing down
When we don’t slow down and when we try to control and make life out to be the perfect image of our perception and expectations, we can end up hurting not only our mental health but also our physical health.
This slows our progress in every area of life. It keeps up from obtaining our goals and puts a strain on relationships, our personal and professional life.
Headaches, tightness in your shoulders, inability to sleep, stress and hopelessness can all be a result from going too damn fast.
Had I just taken the day to relax on Saturday, I wouldn’t be in pain 3 days later.
Just like going faster when we are already going fast can create a negative loop. The effects of now slowing down compound and create a negative loop.
A lack of sleep can cause sluggishness and headaches. The headaches can keep you from sleep and push you to drink caffeine. The caffeine can disrupt your sleep schedule and the next thing you know you’re completely off your path.
Ugh, you might even become one of those people who says “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”
How I Effed up and Didn’t Slow Down
Currently on day 5 of a migraine. Friday I felt it first come on and I ignored it. Figured it would go away on its own—frankly, I didn’t have time for it.
Saturday it wasn’t too bad, so I pushed myself with a work-out and did chores around the house. By Sunday I couldn’t sleep and move without pain. Monday it got worse. I was forced to slow down.
Thankfully, it’s getting better.
If you don’t slow down, your body will force you to.
I realize that had I just slowed down, I could have avoided all of this pain and suffering to begin with.
But I was so caught up in trying to control my world, trying to make things right, focused on “if things could just be this way I’d be happy,” and I pushed myself too far.
So now, while I’m actually enjoying smelling like peppermint (putting peppermint oil around my temples and under my nostrils) and I really appreciate my friends checking-up on me and making sure I’m OK, I could really do without this migraine.
But it was the reality check I needed.
Related article: Check-in When You Want to Check Out
How to Slow the F Down
1. Make a Realistic “to-Do” List
To-do lists get a bad rep. They may seem to make things worse. Instead of crossing things off and feeling accomplished, you end up feeling regret and guilt for the things that you didn’t do.
But it’s not the to-do’s list, it’s how you approach it. Try a different to-do list. A realistic one.
Start with three things you absolutely need to get done for the day. If you have nothing with a definitive timeline, then do something that you want to do or won’t take much time.
You can add bonus items to your list and tackle them if you have the energy. If not, they can go to the next day.
2. Check In
Sometimes we focus on climbing the mountain, we lose track of how far we’ve come. Or we don’t realize that we don’t need to climb anymore.
There could be beautiful view right from where you’re at, but you might go so fast you don’t stop to realize it. This is what happens when you see someone who is miserable but seems to “have it all.”
What they have is not fulfilling them, but they aren’t checking in. So they continue to chase things that aren’t adding value and thus compound their suffering.
Questions to help you check in:
- How far have you come?
- When is the last time you took a break?
- Do you need a break?
- Are your goals realistic?
- Have you reached out to family and friends lately?
- Does that “thing” really need to be done today?
- Is now a great time to stop your thoughts and enjoyed the moment?
- When is the last time you stretched?
- Are your shoulders relaxed?
- Is it time you did something for the enjoyment of it?
Related podcast: Checking In – 50
3. Be In the Now
Because of how we are trained by society, it’s hard to conceptualize that all we have is the Now.
But if you think about it, this present moment is really all you have.Of course, you have materialistic possession, your memories, your wants, dreams, anxieties and thoughts of the future.
But the Now, this current moment, is where you are and where you will find your inner being and mindfulness.
So take a moment, sit with your thoughts. And appreciate this moment as it is Now. You are here, Now, because you are meant to be.
Slow the F down
Realize that by slowing down you will not stop your progress; you are improving it.
Because constantly being “on” and focusing on productivity is hurting you—in fact, it’s a limiting belief and part of a fixed mindset.
So while it may seem counterintuitive to slow down. And you may feel like if you slow down you are abandoning your goals, or that you will end up left behind, that’s not the case.
Slowing down is imperative, and it’s going to help you.
When you check in, make realistic to-do lists and focus on the now, you can enjoy what you are doing. You actively live life instead of chasing it.
Think of it like building a sound foundation. This foundation will help you build the life you’ll love.
Slowing down is not only a gift you’re giving yourself. It is a courageous act of self-love that will positively affect every area of your life.
TV Depiction of Not Slowing down
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan