Have you ever stood in a city and watched everything and everybody whiz by doing their thing? It’s exciting and captivating. The speed of everything happening around us is fun, sexy and hard to walk away from. It leaves us with a rush of energy and fills us with marvel.
I love it, don’t you?
The problem is, we are often living the fast life rather than actually living. So many of us are completely frazzled and out of sync with life and everything it has to offer.
Time is scarce. So to compensate, we speed up and do more within the day.
We get up early in the morning; rush to the gym while the family are asleep; do a workout; come home to make lunches and breakfast; wake the kids and get them ready; rush everyone out the door to drop them off at school or childcare. The day at work is then spent speeding around trying to finish in time to pick the kids up at school/care and then to come home to taxi the offspring to after school activities. It’s only after making and eating dinner, helping with homework and putting the kids to bed do you have time slow down.
By then it’s time to go to bed. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Is it possible to break free from this mindset of busy, busy, busy?
I find many of my peers are saying busy is best. That is, until their body says “I can’t take it anymore” and it gives up.
We end up stressed and our body doesn’t cope. Our body is being flooded with adrenaline and our endorphin’s are released to prevent any unwelcome pain. Our heart rate increases, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. We notice our breathing becomes rapid and our focus increases. The problem though – this is our “fight or flight” response. This response was only intended for life-threatening events, however, we are spending more and more time this way.
Our bodies are not designed to handle this much stress and speed. Particularly for the length of time we place ourselves in it. Day after day.
There are so many different reactions to stress.
Some people experience headaches and depression, others develop ulcers and anxiety. Sleep can be affected, while other people get angry, cry or worry. These reactions break down into physical symptoms, psychological difficulties and negative behaviour changes.
The good news is we can change it.
It requires us to slow down.
Carl Honore, in his TED talk titled “in praise of slowness” explores how we perceive time. He finds slowing people down can improve creativity and people tend to do everything better. As such, he’s an advocate of the “slow movement”. Watch his talk here.
We need to think about the landscape we work in every day. What role does slowness play in our working life?
There are people in countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden where people are finding the quality of life is improved if they work less. This is a great case to demonstrate productivity continues and the economy still buzzes if we slow down.
To prevent burn-out and to encourage us to slow down, we need to:
Take our lunch breaks… in fact, take mini breaks throughout the day too!
Switch off our phones – make a habit of consciously switching off the phone three times a day.
Leave the laptop/device at work to keep the weekends free.
Meditate or take time to be mindful.
Sit outside in the sunshine and slowly drink a cup of tea.
Take a moment to breathe. Really breathe. Deeply in, exhale out.
It IS possible to slow down. In fact, we MUST slow down for our health. We don’t want to burn out. Less is definitely more. Slow is often better.
Let’s get in touch with our inner tortoise. Don’t be a rush-a-holic or speed addict. Be happier, healthier and more productive. Live life rather than working through it. Make those relationships stronger and more beneficial.
If you know of someone who is busy speeding around and burning out, please send them this article. It will benefit both of you.
Take it slow.
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