It seems to be the nature of modern living..we seem to be constantly on the run, constantly busy.
I remember hearing a sermon years ago about how we need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives.
At a season of our lives when I was at home and life seemed at times too slow this didn’t seem to be a high priority.
Of recent though, this little mantra has popped into my head more frequently.
I now work part time, my girls are older and have homeworks, music lessons and sports to be delivered to. I am involved in some children’s work in our church family and I love updating this blog while I can.
Recently I seemed to have a view of my days from an external perspective…the busyness and the to-do lists. All of them valuable and the vast majority just part of the mundane of daily life. And I realised how busy I was and how I wanted to maintain the ‘slow’ even in the midst of this busyness.
This phrase keep popping into my head…you need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
I needed to stop thinking about ‘the next thing’. So in the busyness, I started to practise some ways to simplify my mind as well as our home. Over the last while I have been slowly removing clutter and unwanted items from the house. I have found this so cathartic for my mind as well as our space feeling ‘lighter’ – does that make sense?? Also much quicker and easier to clean so it’s a win all round!
Mental health is such a big topic these days…Sara at Smashed Avocado is doing a Mental Health month so be sure to pop in to her blog if you’d like to hear more. Slowing and our wellbeing are so completely intertwined in my mind. More and more this word simplify is cropping up…we are aware we are saturated and yet we are still adding more to our lifestyles. We’ve no time to take stock, to cut off and spend time in thought. And it is all taking it’s toll. I believe we are made to be thinkers, to connect with nature and to spend time in stillness…I believe it is here we meet God and to embrace the things we truly value in life, where we are challenged and become visionaries.
So here are a few things I’ve started to do to slow down in the midst of busyness…
// Be a planner
This maybe sounds a bit counter intuitive and that you’re adding something more onto an already busy day, but hear me out! I have found the more awareness I have of what needs to be done throughout the day, the more focused I am and the more intentionally I tick things of my to do list. I don’t spend time doing the unnecessary jobs; don’t feel the weight of a mountain of things to do or the feeling of being beaten before I’ve begun. I feel organised.
Quite often the feeling of being ‘busy’ is actually simply the massive list in my head of what needs to be done and my feelings towards them. Also, at the end of a wearying day I will reflect and often see that I have spent a lot of my time squeezing an extra job in or getting distracted, and as a result, feeling overwhelmed and sinking under the seemingly endless list.
So, I spend time on a Sunday writing out my outlines for each day and what is happening, my meals and a list of what needs to be bought…I find that I feel in control, that I am proactive instead of reactive. I make decisions about what absolutely needs done and the things that can fall away.
// Say no
This probably relates to being planned but I have found that having a look through my week before it begins and being aware of all that is going on allows me to protect pockets of time. I will say no to things if it looks like my week is going to be overly busy or has something extra. Sometimes you don’t have this privilege but I am a great believer in protecting time if you can. As a family we have always protected our Saturdays…it is our day together. We have refused invitations to parties at times, bowed out of extra music lessons or sport. At the minute it is a pocket of time we can protect for us…this will of course change as seasons of life change but for now it is sacred ground!
// Rise Early
I love mornings but I find it difficult to get up. I have started setting my alarm half an hour earlier…to get my feet out of the bed and resist the urge to hit the snooze. I pour a glass of water and usually do a small practical thing to rouse my mind a little. I take a while to be sociable and have found this hour of solitude so invaluable…when my girls waken, I am ready for the day and ready for a bit of communication with them!! I have found this such a game changer.
I have no set routine but I generally read/pray, do a practical job and write the absolute essentials I need done for that day.
I am also going to try and fit a bit of exercise in to a couple of these mornings over the next wee while.
I am an interrupter…I hate this about myself. I jump in to conversations and then realise I have stopped someone mid flow. I have been trying really hard to listen. It sounds so basic, but to let who I’m talking to finish a sentence before I add my piece. It shows respect and I hate that I have to work so hard to do it.
To be present in a conversation. To listen and inquire, places a value and worth to the person you’re talking to. Often I have to make myself turn and look at one of my girls as they talk, to show them I am listening, rather than try to tick off another job…they will always get done and I don’t think we’ll ever look back and regret that late load of laundry! The culmination of ignored conversations and distracted “uh-huh’s” are too much of price to pay for getting jobs done…these are precious moments that we’ll look back in fondness on, I want to be present for them and not in a constant state of flux!
Relationships are sacred, we are built to connect with people; so let’s really actually listen to each other and build community with those around us.
// Stop when you get the chance
With the hours I do and what I try to fit into my day I find quite often that I haven’t sat down! So when I get home from work and before I pick up my littlest from school I try to make a coffee and sit down with it…I quite often take a photo of it too – my love of a pretty picture and a cup of coffee is probably slightly abnormal! The coffee makes me sit…I try to cut off during this time, to read a chapter of my book or a blog I’d wanted to catch up with. Whatever little piece of time you have, even if it’s five minutes while a wee one is entertained, take the opportunity to stop, to rest, to restore.
// Do a slow job if you feel busy or slightly overwhelmed
There are some household jobs that just make you slow down. I find doing dishes one of these; we have no dishwasher (I hear you gasp!) so after breakfast I send the girls upstairs to get dressed while I clear the table and wash through the dishes. It slows me down – that manic hour before getting out the door. Laundry is another slowing activity, especially if you’re hanging it outside – whatever it is for you, while you do it, be aware that you are slowing down and enjoy the time to take a breath.
// Be thankful
This maybe seems a strange one but I am forever trying to stop and be thankful; to try and notice the little things that are good, really good about what is happening in that moment. I find it draws my mind to a slower pace…when you notice. I love instagram for this…these little moments, I love that they are marked and recorded and in my mind a gratitude flows in. I’ve started a little tag, #awhisperedbeauty to notice the things that are drowned out by the noise of our busyness…join in with me, I’d love to see what you notice!
I am really trying to get better at this. To leave my phone in my bag and forget about it for the afternoon or simply turn it off. I am planning to eliminate it in the mornings as I find my easily distracted mind tends to pick it up and flick through social media. I find it truly addictive at times. Yet unplugging is vital for me to slow my mind.
// Get outside
I truly believe that getting outside, feeling the breeze on your face, is one of the best ways of slowing down. Make sure the phone is turned off and you spend time in your thoughts.I have found this, particularly over this winter. I have had to walk our dog, even in the wettest of days. And I have never felt afterwards that I hated it. Wind rain, hail, sunshine…whatever it is (and we’ve had them all in one day here in Ireland!), you’ll feel refreshed and renewed…I promise – honestly!
// Be mindful
You know…whatever you do, busy or not, I think slowing down is a state of mind. That whatever way you find to be ‘in the moment’ rather than always thinking of the next, is the way that you slow down. So whatever it is, embrace it and allow yourself to slow down, to step away from all the noise and unnecessary busyness that invades our lives.
I would love to hear what works for you. Maybe you’re completely different from me and so, your list is different too…also any podcasts or blogs you love to read on these issues??
Whatever your weekend looks like, am hoping you build in some ‘slow’.