I get it. Sometimes it seems like you have no other option but to keep go, go, GOING for every second of every day (and night!). Maybe you’re a full-time working mama with a breastfed baby and you even spend your “breaks” at work pumping for your little one. Maybe you have several kids who you cart around from one activity to the next and practically every second jam-packed with so much activity, you barely have time to eat, let alone sit down and put your feet up. Maybe you’re just wired to go, go, GO.. .maybe you even get off on it. If that’s your life, and you sit down at the end of the day feeling satisfied, and even energized, by your efforts—great! You may not even need to slow down. Keep doing your thing. You’re a rock star!
For most of us, though, that’s just not the case. There are many nights when I sit down after getting my daughter to sleep and I feel completely drained—like I have nothing else to give at all. Sometimes I don’t even want my husband to talk to me because it’s too much effort to listen to his stories and answer his questions.
Here’s the thing: I acknowledge that there are many things in life (and on our calendar) that we really can’t control. You probably have to go to work so you can provide for yourself and your family. Maybe you even work within a culture that requires you to move fast (maybe there’s even someone watching the clock every time you go to the restroom or take a lunch break—I’ve been there and it sucks!). And, of course, we all have to take care of our children, our homes, and a million other things.
But HOW we do these things makes such a big difference. You can rush through it all like a frantic person who consumes far too much coffee, or you can be methodical, mindful, and yes, a little… more… slowly. Unfortunately, many people who are approaching life at a fast-and-furious speed to their own detriment might not even realize they’re doing it. (I know when I get in that zone, it can be particularly difficult to slow down.) So, what are some of the signs?:
5 Signs You Need to Slow Down
You notice yourself holding your breath or have a hard time catching your breath.
Whether you’re in a yoga pose or just going about your daily activities the breath is a great indicator of how you’re doing, both physically and emotionally. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re feeling rushed or stressed out, notice how you’re breathing. I can almost guarantee you that in that moment you won’t be taking full, slow, deep belly breaths like you might do in yoga class. On the other hand, notice your breath in the moments right before you drift off to sleep. Can you feel your belly rise and fall like ocean waves? The next time you notice your breath isn’t moving so freely, it’s a good sign you need to take a step back, slow down, and take at least a few deep, mindful breaths… When you’re done, you’ll be able to get back to kicking ass (and you’ll be better at it, too!).
You make lots of mistakes.
This is kind of a “duh.” Sometimes I just call it Mommy Brain (or Pregnancy Brain). It’s what happens when I forget where something important is because I “put it in a safe place.” It’s when I show up to an appointment on the wrong day, misread a label and buy something I don’t even like at the grocery store, or I realize I forgot to wear deodorant to teach a yoga class (yes, local students, that stench was me, and I’m very sorry!). It’s true that some of the problem has to do with sleep deprivation and hormone levels (especially pregnancy brain), but I think those issues are secondary to the fact that I’ve just been moving TOO quickly. When I catch myself (or when I realize I smell like a teenage boy) I make myself slow down because I’m almost always moving TOO fast and haven’t been taking care of myself as I should.
You are so busy you don’t have time to prepare good, healthy foods for yourself or your family.
(Or you’re so stressed out you only want to stuff your face with potato chips and ice cream).
Just as the breath is an easy sign to assess how you’re doing, the foods we crave (or sometimes mindlessly consume in a rush) can be a more tangible way of checking in with ourselves. I know I’m moving too fast when I rush through the grocery store, picking up every convenient processed snack in sight. I know if I stop to think about it that this really isn’t the best choice for myself or for my family, but I’m too moving too quickly to care. Whenever I notice myself mindlessly nibbling on foods that aren’t good for me, I know it’s time to take a look at what’s going on in my life and figuring out what I can let go of so I can make more time for some slow cooking, slow chewing, and resting and digesting.
You haven’t felt inspired or creative recently.
This is a big one for me because I make my living as a yoga teacher, writer, and editor. When I sit down to write an article, plan a class, or even just come up with some great new content for the Spoiled Yogi blog, and I come up short I KNOW it’s because I’ve been spending too much time jumping from one activity to the next and not enough time savoring the moments I’ve been given. I know it’s a sign I need to slow down and take a mindfulness break because after years of staring a blank computer screens and blinking cursors, I’ve learned that that’s practically the ONLY fix for being uninspired and creatively drained. I step away. I take some breaths. I meditate, spend a few minutes on my mat, go for a walk in nature (a SLOOOOW walk), and when I come back to my work, I can think much more clearly and I am shockingly more productive.
The littlest things set you off (in a really bad way!)
I won’t lie. There are definitely days when EVERYTHING the people in my life do or say to me is like fingernails running down a chalkboard. It seems to take longer than it should to get my daughter dressed and ready for the day. My husband says all the wrong things. Even my dog and cat seem to need too much from me and I just want them to go away! Of course, it’s easy to just chalk it up to a coincidence or a full moon (you know, blaming anybody or anything OTHER than me) for this phenomenon. But when I take a step back and really look at it objectively, I realize these are the days that I just have too much on my plate, I’m trying to do too much, or I’m stressed out in some other way. I might not be able to control all the things on my calendar always, but I CAN control how I speed through my day checking things off my to-do list. And, have I mentioned that when I just move a little more slowly and mindfully how much more efficient I am at getting those things done? (This is my mantra during the busiest of times: Slow down, get more done.)
How do you tell when it’s time to slow things down a bit?