The secret to slowing down

Just… stop.

How many of us declared 2016 to be the year we learn how to slow down? The year we learn how to press pause? The year we learn how to take a breath when we most need it, rather than pushing through the overwhelm?

For many of us, we want to get off the merry-go-round of work, commitments, and endless to-dos for a moment. Just long enough to take a breath and recalibrate. But we discover time and time again that things never stop and finding that moment, that breath, that recalibration is much harder than we thought it would be.

There will always be work to do. There will always be laundry to fold. There will always be phone calls to make and people to help and appointments to attend and expectations to meet and manage.

Those things probably won’t change a lot, because life.

And while there are so many ways we can ease those responsibilities – declutter, get organised, uncover our priorities and live accordingly – they will always remain.

So when faced with the tension between a desire (I want to slow down, to press pause and soak in this moment right now) and a perceived requirement (but I need to sweep the floor, attend a meeting, fill out this form) what do we do? How do we bridge that gap?

We stop anyway.

There is no secret to slowing down other than to just… stop.

You have to make the decision to press pause for yourself. Let go of the expectations. Give yourself permission to stop, even though it may not be a perfect time to do so. Because there never is a perfect time.

We will always have something else to do or somewhere else to be.

Choose to stop anyway.

The truth is, it doesn’t take much time. You could:

  • Take ten deep, slow breaths. Breath in, count slowly to five. Hold for five. Out for five.
  • Spend two minutes sitting quietly, carefully taking stock of each of your senses.
  • Find your kids and play a joy-filled game of hide and seek.
  • Go outside and stare at the clouds.
  • Bend down and get your hands in the dirt. Plant something. Water something. Revel in the vitality of being.
  • Stretch.
  • Make a list of things you are grateful for.
  • Write a poem. Draw a picture. Create, with no agenda in mind.
  • Have a nap in the middle of the day. Just because.

The ‘secret’ to slowing down is simply to slow down.

It is that simple. And that difficult.

JUSTSTOPPhoto by Andrew Malone

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Brooke McAlary

Brooke is a writer, podcaster and inappropriate laugher. She's a passionate advocate of naps, slow living, a good shiraz and even better comedy. She's also the host of the iTunes #1 Health show,The Slow Home Podcast and founder of Jackrabbit.FM. Brooke lives with her husband and two kids in the Blue Mountains of Australia and suffers a severe case of wanderlust.

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Comments

  1. I have been spending a lot of time re-prioritizing the things in my life that take a lot of energy and attention. Last year I was incredibly introspective in recognizing that time is so short. I hate to say that, but it is true. I have made a conscious effort to slow down, anchor my days with the non-negotiables, and truly enjoy my time. It has been really wonderful, and such a positive change!

  2. feeding the winter birds is my favorite ‘lazy’ thing to do in February…. they can keep busy while I sit and watch

  3. Every time I think I am DONE with the laundry…it just.keeps.coming. This is timely for me.

  4. From God’s lips to my heart, this is a word for me today. Don’t know why I’ve been ridiculously driven since the start of the new year but I’ve driven myself into a frenzy and am finding myself, besides being exhausted, very unsatisfied. Today, I did just “stop” and my mind is entertaining things that my heart wants to do to find my way back to “me” again. Thank you.

  5. I have in so many areas so far this year. I as going to rejoin my children’s PTA but as I’m studying and working, adding this on to my commitments really wouldn’t have been in keeping with my slowly lived project for 2016.

  6. Love this post! we need to be intentional about stopping when our instincts are to keep busy. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and how when we stop, it allows us to give our full attention to those around us.. . . . Practicing the art of REAL listening.

  7. So, a few years ago I was suffering from awful panic attacks and severe anxiety. It was an awful way to live, to put it succinctly. It took me a LONG time to finally realize that just stopping once in a while (WITHOUT GUILT) is slowly but surely saving my life.

    It’s really important that you point out being creative without a purpose in mind. For years I had stopped doing anything creative because I kept somehow telling myself that there always had to be a goal in mind. That mindset KILLS creativity and causes nothing but stress. I’m hoping soon my next step is to start being creative again for the sake of creativity and creation.

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