How To Slow Down When Life Is Crazy

It recently came to my attention that I don't walk anywhere. I do this sort of harried run/dash/jog thing, even when I'm not late or going anywhere important. In fact, just yesterday I was run/jogging along when it hit me — I need to find time to slow down. And slow down I did.

To be honest, though, it felt pretty strange to stroll leisurely along. In fact, I found it downright difficult. All I was doing was heading home for an uneventful evening, and yet I still had an urge to frantically sprint down the sidewalk. Once I got home, the rushed, overwhelmed feeling persisted. I sat down with my food, phone, and laptop and proceeded to eat, text, and watch Netflix all at the same time. Before I knew it, it was 11 p.m. and my evening was suddenly over. (Sad face.)

It's this type of hectic, crazy, multi-tasking lifestyle that makes life fly by. The rushed feeling becomes so engrained, that after a while it's almost impossible to turn it off (even when chilling at home, apparently). I blame our 24/7 connectedness, long to-do lists, and even longer work weeks. Life is seemingly in a constant state of fast forward, so no wonder it feels impossible to slow down.

I don't know about you, but I'd still like to try, even though it feels so difficult. Besides walking slower and smelling the roses (no more run/jogs, I promise), here are some more ways to slow down and really enjoy life.

1. Focus On One Thing At A Time

Picture it: You're sitting on the couch with your laptop and phone, and the TV on in the background. You're kind of texting, kind of watching Game of Thrones, and kind of checking email — but not really focusing on any one thing. Like I said, this was me last night, so I can assure you it's the opposite of living in the moment. I recommend turning things off and focusing on one activity at a time.

2. Shorten Your To-Do List

Don't overwhelm yourself with 55,000 daily chores, meetings, and errands. Simply choose three things to do each day, and leave it at that. As Mike Donghia said on the blog, "Keeping the list this size will force you to decide what’s really important. When you finish the list, the rest of the day is yours to relax." (Just promise to actually relax.)

3. Create More Time For "Being"

Yes, that sounds incredibly self help-y, but who cares? "To slow your life down from a dizzying blur to a positive experience, you need time to just be," recommended Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D, on Psychology Today. "You can do this in many ways, such as going for a walk, sitting quietly with a cup of tea, or meditating. What’s most important is that you allow yourself to appreciate the moment."

4. Partake In Your Hobbies

I know it may be hard to believe, but life isn't all about work. You should totally have hobbies, and you should totally make time for them. According to Becker-Phelps, "You can’t have a happy life if there isn’t anything you do that you enjoy. So take the time to figure out what those things are and then do them — often."

5. Act Like A Kid Again

Remember how slow life felt when you were a kid? Recreate those leisure days by throwing your adult responsibilities to the wind. "Even if you can only manage 20 minutes a day at first," Donghia said. "Don’t read anything to further your career or impress your friends. Do something useless like skipping rocks across a pond." Or building pillow forts, or watching cartoons, or laying in a field. The list could go on and on....

6. Disconnect More Often

Staring at your phone 24/7 has become totally normal (and expected). And yet it means life never gets a chance to slow down. "Being connected all the time means we’re subject to interruptions, we’re constantly stressed about information coming in, [and] we are at the mercy of the demands of others," said Leo Babauta on his blog So turn it all off, if only for a few minutes each day.

7. Stop Being Late

How much of your day goes by in a blur because you're running late and rushing? Of course this can't always be helped, but do yourself a favor and at least try to leave on time. As John Rampton said on, "... if you get a head start by waking up and leaving the house earlier, you’re reducing the morning rush, and hence the undo stress that worry and rushing causes." Amen to that.

8. Give People Your Full Attention

This is a big one, because slowing life down (aka, being in the moment) means having real connections. So the next time you'er hanging out, make it a point to actually pay attention to your friends, partner, and family. Put away your phone, and listen to what they have to say.

9. Take Time For Meditation

Meditation is where it's at if you want a few moments peace, as well as a shifted perspective on life. Not only does it guarantee you some quiet time, but it also helps you better deal with a crazy schedule. I recently started using the Headspace app, which is great if you only have a few minutes to meditate. I'm liking my new little tradition, and can already feel a difference.

10. Only Check Your Updates Once A Day

Remember what I said about over-connectedness? I think that's probably one of the biggest reasons life feels like it's on fast forward. So do yourself a favor, and try to check your updates less often. As Donghia said, "That includes twitter, facebook, stocks, sports scores, blog stats — anything. Checking these sites can become an addictive habit which steals time you could spend doing stuff that actually makes you happy."

11. Take Time To Eat... Slowly

Eating shouldn't really mean shoveling cereal in your mouth while you hover over the kitchen sink. If you can swing it, try to actually sit down at a table and enjoy your meals. As Babauta said, "Be mindful of each bite. Appreciate the flavors and textures." It may sound strange, but it will help you be more in the moment.

12. Go The Scenic Route

Remember, life isn't all about getting places ASAP. Sometimes you just have to take the scenic route. As Rampton said, "... take the longer bus route, stand in the longest line, or just stop along the way to admire the sunset or do some shopping." It'll, quite literally, force you to slow down.

13. Keep A Work/Life Balance

Our society doesn't really value the idea of a work/life balance. We're kind of expected to forsake our health, forsake our families, and run ourselves into the ground until retirement. Again, this is not a way to live. Enjoy your work, and put effort into it, but remember to also take time for yourself.

14. Find Pleasure In Boring Stuff

I love the idea of finding pleasure in simple, mundane tasks. I mean, you gotta do them, so they might as well become a part of your slower, more Zen way of life. For example, the next time you're washing dishes, don't just rush through the chore. Feel the sensations of the water, the suds, and the dishes, and look at it as enjoyable, Babauta suggested. It's a much better way to view life.

15. Find Time To Read

Ever notice how an hour spent watching Netflix feels like 20 seconds, but an hour spent reading feels like, well, an hour? Even if you get sucked into the story, there's something much slower-paced about reading. As Tom Hodgkinson said on Real Simple, "Immersing yourself in the written word is a time-honored way to slow down. I try to read a bit of poetry every day...A few lines of Keats can transport you to a wonderful place."

Be sure to keep these things in mind the next time you're multi-tasking, dashing down the street, or saying things like "Wait, what? How is it already Friday?" Hopefully you'll remember to slow down, smell the proverbial roses, and really soak in the day.

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