Yesterday I sorted through my old Filofax from 2015 – removing all of the pages so that I could put new ones in (since I’ve decided I’m going to revive it and start using it again, even if it does make me feel like a 1980’s businesswoman). Flicking through the pages, the one thing that struck me was just how busy I was. Every day had multiple entries – gym before work, meetings all day, an appointment after work and then driving across town to meet a friend for dinner. The saddest thing is that despite all of these exciting social plans, I barely remember any of it. Because I was totally exhausted, all of the time. If I look back on those hazy times, I know that I was taking sleeping pills or painkillers to sleep, and then caffeine tablets to perk me up in the morning before a gym class. I know I wasn’t a great friend, because by Thursday or Friday I was having to cancel evening plans to collapse into bed at 6pm. My Filofax is also full of frantic to-do lists; long reams of errands to remember that I had to write down or they would fall out of my head. In between my job, being out every night and trying to keep on top of blogging, a house, planning a wedding (for the beginning of 2015) and a honeymoon, I know now I was suffering from stress and burnout.
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Fast-forward to 2017 and life is very different. I knew that I couldn’t have got through the last few months amidst the chaos of my life then, and so I forced myself to slow down. In April this year I was placed on anti-depressants for ‘home-related stress’ and had to take a month off from work. I cancelled weekend and evening plans and made friends with ‘slow’. I knew it was important to take a step back from everything that was causing this feeling of chaos and lack of control. My time, suddenly became very precious. I guarded it with my life.
Though I’m back on track now; back at work and about to move out of my parents’ house and into a new life, this concept of slowing down is still incredibly important to me. I try and keep things simple at all costs and make time for ‘me’. Here are ten ways I force myself to slow down:
1. Keep relaxing time phone free – when I take long walks in the forest, a soak in the tub or a read before bedtime I always try and put my phone aside or on airplane mode so I’m not interrupted.
2. Declutter, declutter, declutter – having lots of ‘things’ around me makes me feel stressed and out of kilter, so I try and keep my bedroom and other relaxing spaces clutter free.
3. Spend time outdoors – I wrote recently about mindful walking and I try and spend time outdoors every day. There’s something about being in nature that forces me to slow down.
4. Keep a journal – I’m trying not to rush through life without taking time to reflect or be grateful, and keeping a journal helps me take time every day to be present and get things out of my brain and onto paper.
5. Stop multi-tasking – I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to focus only on the task I’m doing – eating breakfast without checking my phone, watching a movie without my laptop on my lap, looking at one tab on my endless Safari windows at a time, and listening to albums all the way through. I’m such a ‘flitter’ so I’m trying to train my brain to slow down a bit (a lot!)
6. Cook more – I also wrote recently about ‘mindful cooking’ and savouring dinner time, and I’m trying to keep up that ritual of cooking a lovely meal in the evening whilst winding down from the day.
7. Keeping flowers in the house – I’m not sure if this is necessarily a tip for ‘slowing down’ but I do really enjoy bringing nature inside, having hand-cut flowers from the garden, or a few feathers and pine cones lying around. It reminds me to be grateful for nature and the beauty all around us.
8. Burning candles – There’s something about watching a candle flickering away in the evening that really slows down my frantic brain and makes me feel calm.
9. Essential oils – Lavender is perfect for calming the mind and encouraging sleep, frankincense is great for stilling the mind and slowing down breathing, and rose oil is great for relaxation. You can place essential oils on your wrists or the soles of your feet, or mix them with a carrier oil like jojoba to make a massage oil or bath oil.
10. Take a nap – I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a big fan of an afternoon nap. I love the Pzizz app for helping me sleep and allowing me to take time out of a busy day when I need to.
How do you help yourself slow down?
*Post in collaboration with Swatch watches