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The idea of slowing down has intrigued me for some time. For years, life felt too busy and internally I often felt restless and discontent.I had the privilege of choosing to work part time instead of full time, which allowed me time and space to think about my priorities, a luxury most are never afforded. Ideas about time, money, relationships, consumerism, food, justice, opportunity, community, health and wellness began to converge. Opportunities to read, listen, learn and engage with others all influenced some
lifestyle changes.

I can’t necessarily make life slow down but I can choose to rebel against societal norms of always being busy and instead enjoy life. Many of us find ourselves at a unique time and place in history with the current global pandemic. Much of life has slowed down….against our will. This forced slowing down may be causing some anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness, disappointment, etc. Not only are you navigating your own emotions, you are likely dealing with the emotions of family and friends as well. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Let go of pressure and expectations.

Although this time of slowing down has been thrust upon us against our will, I believe there are some things we can do, some positive choices we can make in the midst. Maybe one or two of these ideas will resonate with you.

1. DO LESS– Clearly for many this is already happening. However, it’s likely that if you’ve been stuck at home for a few days, you may have already created a new routine, a daily schedule, trying to keep yourself occupied and productive during quarantine. What would it feel like to make the conscious choice to do less? Focus on what’s really important, what really must be done, and let the rest go. Create space between your appointments/tasks so you can move through your day with more ease and leisure.

2. BE PRESENT– It’s not just enough to slow down and do less, you need to be mindful of whatever you’re doing at the present moment. This is much easier said than done…..but when you find yourself thinking about something that happened in the past or something you’re going to be doing later on, gently bring yourself back to the present. Focus on what’s happening in the present, what you are doing, observe the environment around you, or others you are interacting with. This can be challenging and takes practice.

3. APPRECIATE NATURE– Most of our lives are spent in offices, at jobs and in our homes. This is ever more true right now as many of our cities/states/countries have us staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But there are still ways we can connect with nature. I live in a very urban part of San Diego. I’m fortunate enough to have a beautiful backyard that backs up to a canyon and have always enjoyed sitting outside watching and listening to the birds. But for the last week, it’s a whole new experience. There are no longer construction crews causing noise pollution. I rarely hear sirens or cars of any kind. Various birdsongs fill the air and I hear distant crows from roosters at City Farmers Nursery. Regardless of your surroundings, we can all step outside to feel the warmth of sunshine or the coolness of the breeze. And if all else fails, watch a nature video. Try doing something at least once a day to connect with nature and notice the impact this has.

4. DISCONNECT– How many of us always have our phone on and accessible? Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for technology, especially at this unique time. It’s a wonderful tool to help us stay connected to those we love. However, there is also the risk of constantly being interrupted by a call/text, the onslaught of information we can access anytime/anywhere and the tendency to be available to everyone all the time. It’s hard to slow down when we’re constantly checking messages, scrolling through Facebook/Instagram and reading news updates. It’s also been proven to increase stress and depression. So why not choose to unplug? Maybe that means turning off your phone for a couple hours each day. Maybe it means only checking the news once a day. Find what works for you. And if this is a subject that interests you, I highly recommend the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. And if you’re wanting to support a local bookshop, buy it from Bluestocking Books (they can ship anywhere).

5. BREATHE– Our breath is our greatest asset when it comes to slowing down. When you find yourself stressed out or speeding up, stop, pause and take a deep breath. Take a few. Really be present to your body and feel it filling up with fresh air. Inhale peace and serenity. Exhale all stress and tension. Inhale light and love. Exhale your fears and worries. By paying attention to your breath, you come back to the present moment .

What helps you to slow down? What are some positive things you are noticing or experiencing during this unique time in life? Leave a comment below, your experience may be the encouragement someone needs to hear today.

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