What Does It Mean to Slow Down?
This past week I’ve been suffering from what seems to be a combination of terrible spring allergies and a head cold (cross-over symptoms are confusing J). On the weekend it was Mother’s Day (happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there!). A couple of days before the weekend my husband let me know that he didn’t have too much planned for the weekend. He invited me to decide how busy it would be. My normal is to fill weekends with my long to-do list of actions.
AND I’ve been away a bunch lately, with another week away this week. All I really wanted to do was a bunch of nothing.
Looking back on the weekend, I did pretty well. Stayed home Friday night, had a huge nap and ordered dinner in on Saturday. Watched some TV and only said yes to a few vital things. Good family time. A very low-key weekend. I was very strategic about only doing the things I really had to do.
I went to bed Sunday night, as ready as I could be, to tackle what I know will be a full, high energy week.
Sounds pretty easy, huh? Not so much.
What was most interesting was what I noticed about myself in the process.
On the one hand I only did as much as I could find the energy for.
On the other, I had a voice in my head telling me lots of stories about how much I SHOULD be doing.
You know the voice…the one that tells you regularly that you’re not good enough, or don’t make the best choices. Mine was saying things like: there are weeds in the front garden, you are going away for a week, you better clean the windows, there is dog hair on the floor – don’t you care about how clean your house is, haven’t you committed to writing more, you said you’d email your client about a coaching session time, and so on. That voice never seems to tire of telling me what I have to do and that if I don’t do it all, I must be a failure.
When I heard the voice, I had a couple of choices.
One was to give in and start “doing”.
But I made a different choice. This weekend, I simply acknowledged the voice and kept up my slow pace, getting done what I needed to do, but no more.
And guess what! I didn’t leave the weekend feeling bad about myself the way I might have in the past. I’m proud of myself that I didn’t get drawn in.
Do you ever feel that overwhelming urge to rest? To stop? To just be? But can’t imagine it happening because of the CRAZY energy or expectations you put on yourself?
Can you actually slow yourself down to achieve rest without being sick?
Here are 11 things to try when you really need to rest, but find it hard:
1) Close your eyes and listen past the loud voice to the quiet voice deep down inside. What is it telling you? Trust the quiet voice of your inner mentor.
2) Cut out the junk. Not everything you let into your life is really important. Family, friends, work, health, personal growth, helping people in need – these are. Social media, gossip, other people’s expectations, the news, shopping, numbing behaviours like too much food and alcohol – these aren’t. Let go of some of the junk that is taking up too much space.
3) Focus on what’s actually important. What are the 1 or 2 things that really need your attention? Let the other things go…at least for right now.
4) Consider what you need to soothe yourself. Take a bath, have a cup of tea, call a friend. Do something that makes you feel good.
5) Sleep. Feeling exhausted? Respect that and go to bed NOW! No matter what time it is!
6) Find nature. Nature can rejuvenate like nothing else. Go for a walk. Lie on the grass. Sit at the park. Throw rocks in the lake. Get your feet wet! If this doesn’t work, consider trying #5 first, then add in nature once you wake up.
7) Pet a dog (or a cat). Enough said!
8) Find someone to hug. Lots of research to show how rejuvenating hugs are. Get yourself one (or more) and hug for at least 20 seconds. It will be good for both of you!
9) Lie on the couch and read a book. Doesn’t have to be an important book – just one that feels good for now.
10) Breathe. Slowly in through your nose. Slowly out through your mouth. Breathe once, twice, three times. Sometimes this is what you need to begin to slow, then you can focus on the other ideas.
11) Be still. For some of us it can be really hard to do this. To just be in one place without moving. But if it is hard, then it is even more important. Sit, close your eyes. Be still.
When your body or mind crave rest, resist moving. Moving is your body going into avoidance. Make a different choice. Even just a few minutes of rest can make everything else feel better.
What works for you? Share in the comments below!