24 Mar Hey You, Slow Down!
Hi! Yes this post is for you. The person whose day is jammed packed full of meetings, jobs and social engagements. The person who can’t say no and can’t catch up on the never ending emails in their inbox or show up to their workout due to deadlines. I’m talking to the person who can’t remember the last time they sat back not thinking, doing, watching or listening just to take a moment out.
You need to slow down and switch off!
And to be honest, I’m including myself also in this conversation as I know all too well just how easy it is to get caught up in the pressures of everyday life. It really is a consequence of the modern day era we now live in. Days seem somehow shorter and we’re surrounded by technology that has allowed us to be connected and available 24/7.
Our mobiles, tablets and computers constantly light up, beep and ring to alert us to the latest information or news. Add to that televisions and stereos which are either stimulating us visually or prevent us from ever enduring silence.
As humans, it’s only natural we feel the need to stay connected and feel included. As tribal creatures our desire to belong in a group who share similar beliefs, interests or goals dates back to our ancestors. But this desire for constant connection and attention to our screens ends up creating anxiety and pressure.
In adults this anxiety is often overlooked or well disguised, but in children it’s not the case. Parents would be familiar with the anxiety and frustrations their children display the minute their iPad is taken away or the television is switched off.
Experts are regularly advising parents to limit their child’s use of technology and let them have an “old school childhood” where their imaginations go wild. Encourage them to play outside, to read, to think. Clear their schedules and encourage them to dreamf.
But what about us oldies? We’re not immune to the anxieties caused by oversaturation of technology and of jammed packed schedules. We’re just better at hiding it and instead of screaming and throwing ourselves on the floor in rage, we hold onto our phone with a tight grip, checking it every 30 seconds to see how many ‘likes’ we received on Facebook. We drum our fingers on the steering wheel as we sit in traffic knowing we’re going to be late and we’re unconsciously on guard listening to that beep of another all-important email.
These are all stresses our modern era has created because we’ve lost the ability to slow down and switch off. The new speed and demands of life have taken over, but the natural human requirement to recharge is still there.
So how do you slow down and switch off to avoid suffering from ‘FOMO’ (social angst characterised by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing on social media).
Here are a few of my tips to get you started:
Practice being present
Meditate, stop typing while you’re talking on the phone, turn off your devices/television while you eat your dinner. These are all ways to become present in the moment rather than being distracted by noise, thoughts and visuals.
Take off your watch
We’re so reliant on knowing the time rather than trusting our intuition. By removing your watch, it allows you to get back into the natural flow of the day. Maybe just try it on the weekends first when you don’t have to be at an important meeting!
Get in touch with nature
Connecting with our natural surrounds acts to rebalance us and restore our energy. Go for a bush walk, watch the sunset, or simply walk on the grass in your backyard in bare feet.
Connect with others (not on social media)
Social media while it has its benefits has left many of us feeling disconnected from our communities. Some of us don’t know our neighbours, the name of our local café owner or the post man who delivers our mail daily. Connecting with our communities brings joy, perspective and fulfilment.
Learn to create balance
Working intense hours Monday to Friday and running about fulfilling commitments on the weekends isn’t creating a balance. Try and reduce your job list on Sunday for some little R&R and set yourself an earlier cut off time for a couple of days during the week were you stop, switch off and just be.
Get to bed early
One night per week go to bed rediculously early. Shut the house down and unwind. Read, relax and restore your energy.