July 26, 2018

What Being Forced to Slow Down Can Do to a Person

In developed countries like the U.S. and many others, we live by the clock. From the moment we wake, it’s go, go, go. We eat stress for breakfast. Everything needs to be done yesterday. No sleep is a status symbol for success. And if you’re not rushing through the day, you’re not productive enough. Sound familiar?

Somewhere along the line, our culture became a race to produce the most. Life became fast-paced, rushed, future-focused living. But how is this affecting our quality of life, our happiness, our health?? You might be surprised to find out how slowing down can actually boost your productivity, which is the least of its benefits!

The Magic of Slowing Down

Recently, I experienced culture shock in Caye Caulker, Belize. On this tiny island, going slow is the way of life. My natural stride was at least 10x faster than any local in the village. Everywhere I went, people would say, “What’s the rush?” . . . “Why the hurry?” . . . “Somewhere you gotta be?” . . . “Late for something?” . . . “Where’s the fire?”

When I was befriended by some locals, it forced me to slow down. After a few days, I noticed my pace had slowed waaayyy down. With every step, I was tuned into the moment. When I woke in the morning, I didn’t make a mental list of all the things I needed to get done that day. Instead, I just followed my instincts. Before I knew it, when someone would ask for the time, I couldn’t even tell them what day it was. Amazingly, I had lost track of time and it was glorious!

What I found most fascinating about slowing down is what I gained as a result:

  • Mindfulness
  • Patience
  • Reduced Stress
  • Better Decisions
  • More Energy
  • Greater Creativity
  • Improved Productivity

Yes, you read that correctly: improved productivity!

To be clear, Belize was a working holiday for me. Yet, I wasn’t distracted by the white sandy beaches, deep blue waters, or lush jungles. Slowing down helped me tune in. In fact, I got twice as much done in half the time as I do back home, which left plenty of time to appreciate paradise.

Slow Down & Relax

But wait, “how possible!?” you ask:

Well, when I slowed down, everything I did throughout the day was deliberate and focused, which resulted in my efficiency going through the roof. With more mental and physical energy, my creativity was unleashed and my judgments and decisions were profoundly impacted. Because I was less stressed and happier, I found even more fulfillment in every task I worked on, even the daily tasks that typically get completed without much thought.

Needless to say, slowing down is simply magical.

Slow Down Before You Go Down!

Despite the appeal and benefits of slowing down, many of you will continue to run yourself to the bone. It’s ingrained in you; you can’t help but run around like a chicken with your head cut off. For goodness sake, you’re probably thinking, “Who in the hell has time to slow down!?”

You’re a business owner, a manager, a parent, a mentor, the main provider, the community leader, the Queen of England . . . you have all the stress in the world and none of the time.

But all that stress is no good!

the physical effects of stress infographic

Source: Harvard Business School and Stanford University, University College London

Plus, the British Medical Research Journal, the Lancet, conducted a meta-analysis of 17 studies from 24 cohorts in Europe, the USA, and Australia. Researchers found that the more hours people work, the higher their risk of a stroke. In fact, individuals who work 55 hours or more per week have a 33% higher risk of incident stroke than those working standard hours (35 - 40).

So, ask yourself, is your choice of lifestyle negatively affecting your health??

Your health is your wealth, my friend, so slow down before you go down.

5 Ways to Slow Down in Work & Life

Ready to be happier, healthier and more productive!? Here are 5 ways you can slow down in your work and personal life:

  1. Breathe. Feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed? Just breathe! Take 2 minutes to breathe deeply — in through your nose, out through your mouth. Those 2 little minutes can make all the difference in the world, you’ll be amazed! Wait and see.
  2. Say No. If your plate is full, give yourself permission to say no to new projects, tasks, favors, or the like. Sometimes you’ve got to say no in order to give yourself the space to work on a higher priority, and sometimes, to simply do nothing at all!
  3. Tune In. Pay attention to the little things. Perhaps that’s bringing awareness to the process of the task at hand, savoring every bite of your meal, observing your surroundings, or tuning into all 5 senses in the moment. Just to name a few ideas.
  4. Meditate. Block off time in your daily schedule to decompress. Give yourself at least 5 minutes in the morning, during the day, and/or after work to implement a meditation practice that works best for you. Make it a routine!
  5. Follow Your Instincts. Your intuition wants to guide and support you. Tune into yourself and what you’re feeling. Observe your sensations as well as your thoughts. If it feels right, do it. If you need a break, take it. If you have a hunch, act on it. Listen to yourself and trust what comes up for you.

Life is Too Short to Rush Through It

So, do yourself a favor and implement these 5 practices to slow down, appreciate the moment, and happily get more done in the process.

Namaste!

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