8 Ways to Accomplish a Slower-Paced Lifestyle
(That Don’t Require You to Move to the Woods)
Hey everyone – I wanted to talk about something that weighs heavy on all of us. This new year is bringing some changes in my life and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the madness that is surrounding us. A lot of this may seem obvious (I am mainly writing this as a note to myself) but I’m trying to paint the big picture because it will always be important to take a step back.
We live in an insanely fast-paced world. If you’re not a strong multi-tasker, odds are you will drown. This new normal creates a stress and anxiety that is leading to not just weakness of the mind, but physical illness as well. We have to find a way to get a grip on ourselves and pump the breaks! We need to breathe, relax, and savor the moments that will one day disappear. To me, the root of most of our problems (throughout American culture specifically) is the absolute need and EXPECTATION for instant gratification. Our minds are trained to want things… and we want them now. Whether it’s food, the highest speed wifi, our Uber ride, or on-demand everything, we don’t expect to have to wait for one thing. Our minds almost don’t even know HOW to wait anymore.
To make the stress of this even worse, courtesy of social media and this 24/7 society, the important walls between personal-life and work-life are starting to crumble to the point that they are no longer recognizable. We are now working around the clock because of our connection to social media, interacting through texting, and emailing all hours of the day… All of this being made worse due to the fact that EVERY. SINGLE. DEVICE. that we own is connected to the internet now.
If we expect to salvage our sanity, we are going to HAVE to re-train our brains to slow down and function at a more amicable pace. We need to remember how to truly breathe and release the stress that is slowly killing us from the inside. (Not to sound dramatic, but it actually really is.) When did you just stop and soak in the present moment without reflecting on the day before or worrying about whether your Amazon prime order will arrive as prompt as expected? *Guilty.* It is nearly impossible to do for just about anyone – but we Americans make it impressively challenging.
Because these thoughts go through my mind daily, I decided to make a list of 8 key habits that will help you break the never-ending stress cycle that you keep getting stuck in, without sacrificing your goals and plans for the future. If anything, it should help them!
#1 Learn To Be Present
If we wait for our problems to go away and before we learn to enjoy life, we will be a pile of bones. I know it is really hard to slow down and ‘smell the roses’ when we are living in the past’s problems and nervous about the future. I get it. I’m preaching to myself here. But we must train ourselves to be PRESENT in the very moment that we are living in. Getting involved with a physical activity like exercise, yoga or learning to meditate are ways for your mind to be forced to focus on the present. I also love this article (HERE) that explains in detail, techniques to achieve being truly in the moment. It is a wonderful read. Throughout it all, never forget how grateful you are and practice maintaining a heart of gratitude. This attitude adjustment my be the biggest change you can make.
*Pro Tip: If you are nervous about the future, whether it be a job interview or upcoming test, ANYTHING…. simply put 100% of your focus into what you are grateful for. You will realize that you cannot be both grateful and nervous at the same time, and your anxiety will become more manageable.
#2 Find a Way to Contribute
So many of us are incredible blessed with so much, that we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It is so easy to overlook important things and put all of our focus into what we don’t have – and our ‘wants’.
Amongst all of the negativity and pure evil in this world, we absolutely MUST maintain compassionate hearts. Contributing to something that you care about is an important part of any life. Life has value. EVERY life. Take time even once a month to volunteer at a retirement home and just spend time with the people there. Help serve at your local soup kitchen, and if you have littles, get them involved too! One of my favorite missions is Dress for Success, which helps dress and train women to achieve economic independence to support themselves and their families. A simple way to contribute to them is through donations of professional clothing. There are so many ways to plug in to your city and the level of commitment is up to you! Just take the step and do something.
#3 Declutter Your Life
Simplify. No, Really.
We all know that I am all about a good closet purge. Not much makes me as a happy as freeing up space in my life and home. The feeling of freedom can sometimes come with the initial hardship of sacrificing & letting go of things that you my deem temporarily sentimental, but be realistic with yourself and get back to basics! It is amazing how we drag around the ‘energy’ of so much STUFF daily! Set your intentions and utilize this through every room home. Set your goals and stick with them. Most of all, BE REAL with yourself about your choices and what you actually NEED. Afterwards, consider donating your unnecessary items to those who need them. In our area, I love the Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
This can be a large and overwhelming process, but start with small baby steps such as your cosmetics drawer or the product basket under your bathroom sink. You will begin to love the feeling of freedom.
#4 Cut Out Distractions
You know that feeling in your stomach when your cell phone dies, but you instinctively keep reaching for it anyways like a trained monkey? Yeah, me too. The anxiety is real, y’all. We have a problem… and if we are totally honest with ourselves, we know it. We always have to be distracting our minds with something or we fear we might spontaneously combust. When was the last time you *voluntarily* disconnected from the internet when you weren’t sleeping or otherwise occupied? Do you stay ‘ON’ and able to be reached at every given moment of your life? I know I do, and I’m working on making some serious boundaries. Boundaries are crucial to slowing down and maintaining a happy life because it alleviates the pressure that you place on yourself by giving yourself permission to relax. Try blocking off personal time. You can start with disconnecting your devices one hour prior to bed so that you can properly wind down your brain. I can almost guarantee that your sleep will improve. Then, consider waiting an hour after you wake up to re-connect so that you can experience some quiet time and a peaceful start to the day. (The struggle is beyond real, but it will get easier.)
#5 Train Yourself to Breathe
Being the most important part of human survival, it is surprising how much proper breathing goes overlooked. Didn’t know you were doing it wrong? By improving your breathing skills, you will be improving your all-over body function. There are a plethora of breathing techniques that you can utilize for many issues. From anxiety, to sleeplessness, all you have to do is focus on your breath. Check out these techniques that I love HERE to get you started in a healthier direction. I can’t stress the importance of this enough.
#6 End (Most) Multitasking
We are smart, powerful and capable people. So why not achieve as much as humanly possible within the timeframe that we are conscious and awake, right? Is more really MORE? Not really if we plan to regain true control of our minds. We are becoming more robot than human by the day. Efficiency is king in our lifestyles, and there is nothing wrong with that. But set a realistic pace for yourself and put time buffers in place to keep yourself from rushing.
If you find yourself doing many things at once and start to get overwhelmed (old habits die hard), take a moment to step back and simply breathe. Refocus your efforts and give yourself permission to accomplish each goal individually instead. Just because you are feeling overwhelmed does NOT mean that you are weak or ‘can’t handle it’. It simply means you need to restructure your task.
#7 Adopt a Fur-Baby
Okay, it’s no secret that pets can help us live longer, happier and fulfilling lives. It has been scientifically proven time and time again. Humans are meant to have companionship. When we are going through difficulties in life, they provide emotional support and help us to focus on the smaller and simpler things, naturally. According to studies, pets also make us more outgoing, aware, and lead generally healthier lifestyles.
#8 Explore More
You don’t have to be able to afford a vacation to give your mind one. It is wonderful to travel because it expands your mind’s horizons while exposing it to new sights, sounds and experiences. However, if a trip isn’t an option, consider a long weekend in a nearby city. Stay in an affordable Airbnb. Don’t go with big plans – just explore how others live (and eat!). In the very least, make days to explore your own city. Wander a bit and try something new and out of your comfort zone. It will reenergize your brain in so many ways that you might not expect. If you are wanting to try new things, my favorite place to go to reboot and recharge my internal batteries is Sedona, Arizona. It has a balancing and inspiring way of giving you life. We like to go at least once a year in the fall or spring to refresh our mindset. Get a glimpse of this magical region here and here.
If you have any insight or questions, please don’t hesitate to chat with me in the comments! Much love!