Somehow, slowing down can have the connotation you are not coping. You are on the brink, you are a bit delicate, and we should all take a little step back so you can gather yourself. Then, when you’re ready, you can jump back into hectic life like the rest of us. Phew, back to normal.
Slowing down is one of those dubious risk-taking actions. The very act of taking necessary steps to look after yourself risks association with laziness, the accusation of being unproductive, even being selfish. The audacity. Thankfully, there are ways you can stop being so busy and slow down your life without the guilt.
But I Can’t. I’m Too Busy!
Often when I ask the question, ‘how are you?‘ I get this response; ‘I’m so busy!‘ Admittedly, this is far too often, my response also.
When being busy is positive, it has the power to enhance creativity and purpose and provide us with new and exciting directions. Being good-busy allows us to feel productive like we are achieving goals and basically winning.
However, when busy takes the place of your life’s balance, your health, and coping, you risk losing yourself in tasks and running around.
Is there a fear of what the silence will bring when you start slowing down?
Recently, I was chatting with a friend, and I asked her, ‘what are you doing after work?‘ She planned to go to a nearby creek to feel the calmness of her body in the water. However, given that it was getting late, she opted for a bath instead. I loved this so much. Her response was surprising in so many ways.
The after-work act was not about grocery shopping, cleaning the house, or even lounging in front of the TV (nothing wrong with that, btw). This gesture is about just being. She needed to slow down, and she trusted that this was what she needed.
When we are busy, the thought of stopping is often met with:
‘There is too much to do‘.
‘I don’t want to fall behind‘.
‘I need to keep on top of things‘.
This all makes sense, right? But at what cost?
But, Why Are You Feeling So Busy?
Let’s consider this question: ‘What does being busy mean to you?‘ This isn’t about the tasks you do that keep you busy; this is about the meaning you assign for being busy.
Perhaps busyness provides you validation. Is this where you find your purpose and your importance?
Do you feel like your life is more under control if you are rushing around, keeping an ever-loosening lid on things?
Are you wearing your 10-hour workday as a badge of honour?
Do you associate the task-juggling with being a better Mum, partner, friend or employee, celebrating that you haven’t dropped the balls yet?
Perhaps busyness and filling every moment runs a little deeper. Is there a fear of what the silence will bring when you start slowing down?
Are you avoiding slowing down for fear of the thoughts that pop up when your mind quietens?
Be mindful of your intention to always being busy. Is it possible you are hiding from yourself?
Perhaps, and understandably you may be busy for more practical reasons. Do you not have the support you need at work or home? Maybe you feel as though you are better off doing most things yourself rather than seeking help or delegating tasks. Is it that you have taken on a responsibility that is not yours to bear? Do you feel ashamed to say no to various demands, guilty perhaps? Or even afraid?
Ask yourself what meaning you have assigned to be busy. Assessing these reasons can find the heart of your motivation to remain this way or adopt some changes that create balance.
The Mindless Act Of Doing
Daily routines are you being on autopilot, the Groundhog Day feeling. Get up—kids to school. Fight traffic. Work. Fight more traffic. Eat. Kids to bed. Sleep. Get up. Kids to school – these jobs are important, but they are also automatic acts that fill your days. If there is no balance, you fall victim to living mindlessly and automatically doing ‘tasks’.
Even the tasks you have on repeat can be meaningful and purposeful, helping you stay in the moment.
How You Can Slow Things Down
1. Be present with others
Are you, by default, always doing multiple things are once? Perhaps you eat your lunch at your desk while reading this? Are you walking the dog and catching up on social media while planning your weekend? Are you talking with your partner while simultaneously texting your friend about the hectic workday you just had while cooking dinner?
Be present with your loved ones and let go of the life-on-demand world that has been created for us. Step back, slow down and reconnect in meaningful ways, one thing at a time.
2. Prioritise what matters
Are you making your connections purposeful and intentional, or are you rushing through in a tick-box kind of way, checking in while you have ‘time’? The people in your life who are on the receiving end of your task-juggling know this, and they feel it. Take time to nurture your relationships and be present.
3. Be purposeful
Be active in creating the life you want. The pace of your life is a series of choices and actions that you have created for yourself. If you find you are overwhelmed by those choices, the good news is that you also have the option to reinvent your schedule and create more space. It may not be easy, but there is always a choice.
4. Reconnect with people. Not tasks
Your work will always be there today or tomorrow or when you go on holiday. The house will always need cleaning. Your pantry will always need stocking. These are tasks that, as adults, you must do, albeit loathe to do; they take up time – time you feel you don’t have.
Have you carved out a small amount of time to really have a conversation with your partner, family or friend?
5. Enjoy what you do
What you once may have found enjoyable is now a chore. When you are always on the go, you lose sight of yourself. This is where resentfulness creeps in. Enjoy and celebrate the interactions you have. Be aware of frustrations creeping in when your attention is taken away from tasks. Find balance in work and the enjoyment of other significant parts of the life you have created.
When you look at ways you can slow things down, things become clearer. There is no time to make plans for yourself, reconnect with others, and appreciate what’s really important when you are running around and task-doing. Take time to slow down and find that clarity you need.