My biggest personal learning in the last year has been to slow down. I’ve noticed that when I’m stressed I speed up, start rushing around, usually without focus, planning goes out the window and I start reacting to circumstances and people in a way that I often regret. Conversely when I slow down, paradoxically I get more done – certainly more of the things that matter to me and as a result I’m more efficient and feel more in control. When I allow myself to stop, get in touch with my body, notice how I feel I find I can usually access some inner wisdom which otherwise gets trampled in the rush for action.
Here are my top 5 tools for slowing down
1. ABC – a way to calm yourself in a stressful situation: –
Awareness – notice you have been triggered by something, maybe you’re feeling nervous before an important meeting, presentation or conversation.
Breathe – take a deep long breath: breath in fully – filling the bottom third of your lungs, as you breath out allow your shoulders to relax down your back and feel your feet on the floor. Repeat twice more.
Choose – Notice how you feel now. Take a moment to consider a response that feels appropriate in your situation – choose this over the reaction.
2. Calm app
My current favourite meditation support. I’ve been using this since the beginning of the year, when I made a resolution to spend 10 minutes a day meditating in a bid to help me to slow down and get more present. As a result, I am definitely feeling more balanced, calmer and happier.
The paid version of the app offers a fresh daily 10-minute guided meditation, which helps me to get grounded and present. Sometimes my crazy brain hardly stops thinking but usually I get in at least a few mindful breaths. The style and focus of the meditation changes each day and keeps me interested and it ends with an uplifting quote. The app tracks my progress – I just hit 150 days straight which makes me feel good and keen to keep it up, I’m amazed at how easy it’s been to stick to it.
The free version is still great and is full of a wide range of resources – try the 7 days of calm, a sleep story or one of a selection of short-guided meditations for different challenging situations. If you want some help slowing down or becoming more present, give this a go!
3. Free on-line yoga
I enjoy exercise and sometimes because of work or the weather I find that I don’t have time to fit it in. Here’s my favourite mini yoga practice which is perfect for those days when you want to do something but can’t for whatever reason.
Just last week I used this video instead of going to a class when my schedule changed – it’s enough to make me feel stretched and includes a nice flow plus some abs work. Plus ‘hot’ Tim Senesi is a great teacher, it’s only 17 minutes long and even includes a short relaxation at the end.
Since discovering this I’ve had to change my story that ‘I can’t, there’s no time, poor me’… which always ends in me beating myself up and feeling bad. Instead I feel like a did something, took a few minutes to slow down and I always feel better than before.
4. Loving kindness meditation
Here is a short-guided loving kindness meditation. I share this with my clients to use when they’re beating themselves up for something and being nasty to themselves, in a way they’d never dream of behaving with a best friend. I know it’s not just me! If you can relate – try this and enjoy a few minutes to rebalance yourself whenever you’re in need of a refresh.
5. A book I recommend is The Four Agreements
This approach is something I have been using for a little while and I am now starting to share it with my clients because I have found it so helpful. It’s four simple and yet powerful rules to live by:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
It’s prompted me to consider – What if everyone, including me, is just doing their best in the moment? The person that cuts me up when I’m driving; my partner when he snaps at me; the waiter who ignores me.
Coupled with the rule of not taking anything personally this consideration makes me less judgmental, more open to others humanity and less reactive to whatever happens during the day.
The impact it has is that I feel calmer and more resourceful. I notice that my day goes better, my relationships are smoother and I feel more connected. I waste less time getting carried away in negative stories and again I feel just well, a bit happier.
Is slowing down something you want to do?
If you try out any of these tools, I’d love to hear what you think of them.
And please share your own ways to slow down.
Carol Conway CPCC
Coach, eight circles