Before you read this, be sure to watch my less than 3-minute video How Slowing Down Saves the Planet.
And then, if your immediate response is, “I’d love to slow the f*ck down, but I’m too busy!”
Then I’m gonna tell you, “Let some things go.”
When we run, run, run, it makes us more stressed — and often depressed. And, we are more inclined to engage in behaviors that end up trashing the planet: eating fast food and pre-packaged crap snacks, driving everywhere, and using “time saving” products that are actually more harmful to us and the planet.
So slow down!
Here are techniques that work for me.
Cut the Commitments
I work from home, so the lines between work and personal time often get blurred. About a year ago, I was feeling overwhelmed, so I decided to eliminate commitments in my life that, upon deep reflection, caused me to feel overextended. As a result, I stopped:
- volunteering for my church’s Green Sanctuary committee and ad-hoc neighborhood committees
- attending events and gatherings on weeknights (the once exception: Washington Nationals baseball with my family)
- accepting lunch invitations during the week unless they would have a direct impact on the success of my business. My alternative — a phone call or a weekend lunch date.
This freed up time so that when I was working, I could truly focus on just work and when I was doing home and family stuff, I could focus on just that and not be distracted by other commitments.
Declare a Sacred Day
Somewhere between running my own event production business and moving in with John and his boys and becoming an insta-mom, having that one day of rest went out the door. Suddenly, Sundays were my catch-up day.
And I burnt out fast because I didn’t give myself time to rest.
Religions that mandate a day of rest get it, but how many of us truly honor it as it was meant to be? Look, you don’t need to be religious to give yourself a day of rest. It’s a necessity our bodies and minds need every single week.
When I first began this practice, I actually wrote on my calendar UNPLUG so that I wouldn’t forget because I was so programmed to do something and catch up!
My unplugging goal for Sundays is:
- No radio
- No podcasts
- No email
- No social media
I aim to spend my time walking and reading and just being. In other words, letting the day unfold without any (or barely any) pre-set plans. I don’t run errands or catch up with work. If I use my phone, it’s to catch up with an old friend for an extended, quality conversation. Not having all that noise — literal and figurative — in my head calms me down and slows me down.
And when Monday rolls around, I’m much better prepared to tackle the week.
- I don’t eat at my desk while working (the crumbs in my laptop were really becoming a problem)
- I don’t watch TV or read a book or a magazine
Try this. It may be tough at first, but it really helps. It’s a whole new world!
You knew this one was coming. “Unplugging” is a very overused word these days, probably because so many of us desperately need to do it! When we are plugged in, it gets our minds humming (often in a bad way) and the next thing you know, we are either spending our precious time reading (often crap), watching, doing stuff or planning to do stuff. Which causes us to run around even more!
I needed to unplug when we took some time during the holidays to visit our lake house in New York. I was determined to truly unplug, so I didn’t listen to the radio and stayed off email and social media. In essence, I unplugged from the world. It was blissful and it was the first time in a very long time that I felt fully rested.
Then I realized I don’t have to go away to unplug! I can unplug right in my home — or anywhere – every single day. Here’s how I do it:
I love (really love) National Public Radio (NPR) and could listen all day long. But then I realized that even though I had it on while working, I wasn’t really listening. It was just noise in the background cluttering my already ADD-riddled head.
So I turned it off.
Now, I no longer listen while working (sorry Joshua Johnson and Terry Gross) and lately, I haven’t been listening much at all. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the very informative and balanced work of NPR, but I began to realize the benefit of not always having extra noise in my head. My compromise: I listen to podcasts while working out.
I probably spend less than 5 hours a week watching something on a screen*; a movie, what we used to call TV, even YouTube videos. We only have one TV in our home and it is inconveniently located in our basement. I rarely watch it unless I’m enjoying an old episode of Psych with my 12 year-old or binge-watching the Hallmark channel.
I find that when I don’t have the distractions of a screen constantly on, my brain is quieter and I’m more focused. The lack of noise slows me down and makes me more aware.
*I’m not counting my phone since I don’t watch videos on my phone
This is a tough one since the “business” of Sister Eden lives and dies by spreading my message via social media! Social media is not all bad, but it is noise — literally and figuratively — so we need to limit the amount of time we spend letting our brains be exposed to this noise! I aim to set certain times each day to check it and I set a timer when I’m on it so that I don’t get distracted. I also refrain from picking it up when I’m bored or standing in a long line. Remember the days before smart phones when, if we were caught in a long line, we just had to stand there and do nothing?
Set the Smart Phone Down
Two to three hours before I go to bed, I aim to not look at my phone at all to reduce the stimulation in my head and aid with sleep. (Now that I have a FitBit with an app that tracks my stats, this is more challenging, but I’m working on it.) In addition, I leave my phone plugged in our bathroom (just off from our bedroom) while sleeping so that I’m not tempted to look at it right before I go to bed, in the middle of the night when I wake up to pee, or right when I get up and am still lying in bed.
I don’t look at email on my phone when I’m making breakfast or exercising. In fact, I wait until I sit down at my desk for the day. If I look at it before I sit at my desk, that’s all she wrote. I head down a rabbit hole of distraction and craziness.
I realize some jobs require you to be checking for updates, but if you can, set expectations with your co-workers, staff, boss, etc. and tell them something like, “I don’t look at email after 7:00 p.m. at night and won’t be looking again until 8:00 a.m. If there is an emergency, please call me.” And then when you do look at email, be very prompt in your replies. If you set parameters, and stick to them, you’ll minimize the craziness. You’ll also give your co-workers a break because they know they don’t have to look at email outside of work hours either!
Let me know in the comments below if you use any of these methods to slow down. And if you don’t, try them and let me know how it goes by commenting below!
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