The Secret to Slowing Down

The secret to slowing down is simple.

Slow down. Press pause. Take a breath.

This is what we want. To get off the merry-go-round of work, responsibility, commitments and tasks for a moment. Just long enough to take a breath and recalibrate.

Surely, there must be a way to create time to stop, rest and soak in the moment?

And the answer – as I have come to understand –  is yes, there is a way. And it is simple.

Simple, but not easy. Because:

  • There will always be work to do.
  • There will always be laundry to fold.
  • There will always be phone calls to make.
  • There will always be people to help.
  • There will always be appointments to attend.
  • There will always be expectations on our shoulders.

Those things don’t change. That’s called life.

And while there are so many ways we can ease those responsibilities – declutter, get organised, discover what’s important – they will always remain in some capacity.

So when faced with the tension between a desire (I want to slow down, to press pause and soak in the moment right now) and a perceived requirement (but I need to sweep the floor, attend a meeting, fill out this form) what do we do?

We stop anyway.

There is no secret to slowing down other than to just… stop.

You have to make the decision to press pause for yourself. Let go of the expectations. Give yourself permission to stop, even though it may not be a perfect time to do so. Because there never is a perfect time.

We will always have something else to do or somewhere else to be.

Choose to stop anyway.

The truth is, it doesn’t take much time. You could:

  • Take ten deep, slow breaths. Breath in, count slowly to five. Hold for five. Out for five.
  • Spend two minutes sitting quietly, carefully taking stock of each of your senses.
  • Go outside and stare at the clouds.
  • Bend down and get your hands in the dirt. Plant something. Water something. Revel in the vitality of being.
  • Stretch.
  • Make a list of things you are grateful for.
  • Write a poem. Draw a picture. Create, with no agenda in mind.
  • Have a nap in the middle of the day. Just because.

So the secret to slowing down is simply to slow down.

It is that simple. And that difficult.



16 Responses to The Secret to Slowing Down

  1. Such great advice as ever Brooke. I am just now lying in bed fretting about all the things I need to do this week and getting increasingly overwhelmed. Normally I wait till everything is done to stop. The problem is I never get there, there’s always more to be done. This week I’ll try to stop each day and take a little time and remember that the world won’t fall apart if I do.

    K xx

  2. After a whole day spent with sorting and scanning documents I want to keep, reading your comment was “the stop” I needed :)
    Thank you, Brooke!

  3. Beautifully said Brooke. I appreciated this more than ever 6 years ago when I went into labour two months early with Little Eco. I know it was because I was trying to do too much. I was trying to get everything that I thought was important done before she came along. But because of that I almost lost her. Thankfully my labour stopped – but I was bedridden for the next two months. All of a sudden I realised that everything I thought HAD to be done didn’t really have to be done at all.

  4. I have struggled with this for years. I used to be REALLY bad at it. Even in the evenings with family all around I would be busy doing something… anything… except enjoying time with them. Now, I am MUCH better, but I must constantly remind myself to slow down. I even have an alarm on my phone that goes off each day at 4:30 to do something fun for an hour before I begin cooking. How lame is that to need that to actually slow down?

  5. We always feel guilty about choosing to do things that are good for us! That one word “stop” is so important.We use a full stop in a sentence to signify the passing from one phrase or idea to the next, so of course we should apply the same reasoning to ourselves.Thanks for the reminder!

    • “We use a full stop in a sentence to signify the passing from one phrase or idea to the next, so of course we should apply the same reasoning to ourselves.” I LOVE this, Carmel. So much.

  6. I did this yesterday, I went into the garden with my 1 year old and just played, for half an hour. I took note of the sky, the green grass and the beautiful smell of the grass being cut – (we have gardeners in the complex where we live.) And I took note of it being a moment of gratitude for having that time before starting my day. I also lay down at lunch time and read my book, and closed my eyes for 10 minutes. Bliss!
    Loving the slow movement :-)

  7. So much wisdom here. Love the way you write and the stuff you wrote about in the post. But even just reading about those things I could do to slow myself down stressed me out because, you know, it would be SUCH a waste of time.

    Clearly, I have a long, long, LOOOOONG way to go when it comes to this stuff. Thanks for challenging me in this area.

    • Haha! That is the last thing I want people to feel when they read those ideas, but I do understand what you mean Em. Years ago I used to get frustrated that “relax” or “rest” felt like just another task on my to-do list. It took a long time for me too, to realise other stuff had to go before I would have room. Keep challenging yourself when you can – it’s worth it once you get there. :)