I like to practice what I preach or in other words, I enjoy walking my talk. Previously I told you how you can turn a bad day better and this is exactly what I did after the recording. Listen to it to get an idea how down I was. This article will be about the importance of taking a step back and slowing down in life to come back stronger.
Dangers Of Always On And Not Slowing Down
Many people, especially type A personalities, have a problem with slowing down. Type A behaviour, in short, can be summarised with the following: competitive, ambitious, impatient, aggressive, fast talking. In other words, they are always on. And pushing hard. There’s no problem with this unless it is the only modus operandi these people are living by. The moment you are always running at full speed, you risk to burn out quickly. Just imagine burning a candle from both sides. Yes, you’ll have a little more light and heat, but at what cost?
The same holds true for us human beings. If we constantly push hard we will tire out eventually. No matter how hard you work or how much you enjoy the grind, your body will at one moment in tme take over and pull the emergency break. For the busy people and type A’s, in particular, this emergency break will be a higher risk for heart disease, stress-induced higher inflammation and similar problems that might cause a heart attack. It’s one way to get you to quit pushing for a (long) while.
Another potential emergency break is the burnout syndrome. Burnout can be seen or recognized as a set of symptoms including amongst other exhaustion resulting from work’s excessive demands, but also physical symptoms such as headaches and sleeplessness, quickness to anger, and closed thinking. People suffering from potential burnout syndrome seem, look and act like depressed people (read more here).
Why Slowing Down Is Important
I am the first to admit that slowing down is fairly difficult. The moment you consider of taking an actual break you are already working on something new. You constantly strive to do more, better and stay ahead of the curve. Let’s say you manage to take a break because you have to, birthday party, wedding, holiday seasons etc, you probably instantly feel like you are wasting your time. Or that you are missing out (known as FOMO = fear of missing out). This is the case for me. Ultimately you’ll pay the price for it as stated above.
On the flip side, slowing down is important and has plenty of benefits that you’ll be happy to use once you are back in your driver’s seat.
The moment we give our body and thus our brain time to slow down, our brain has the time to relax. This time will be used to work and process information received but also enables our brains to refuel on energy and resources that will, later on, increase our motivation, productivity and creativity. In other words, only with some downtime, we are able to perform at the highest levels every day and we can live up to our fullest potentials.
Our brain is constantly taking mini-breaks to escape and slow down. It seems that every time we unconsciously eye-blink our DMS gets activated and thereby our brain gets a little rest. This is impressive but not your get-out-of-jail card at all.
Benefits Of Slowing Down
There are plenty of potential benefits from slowing down in your daily activities altogether. Here are a few:
- Giving yourself more time will improve your problem solving and decision-making skills
- Your work quality will increase as you aren’t rushing through your tasks and minimizes potential for mistakes
- You’ll feel less stressed, which will increase your overall feeling and quality of life. Stress is a killer
- The moment you slow down you allow your self to take some time to enjoy what you are doing and live a fuller life – at home, with friends and at work
- Slowing down will reduce the amount of wasted energy for unnecessary tasks and task switching (also referred to as “multitasking”). This reduction of wasted physical and mental energy will come in handy when you need it later on.
This is only to give you an idea and there are several other benefits on your life and your health that can be gained from slowing down.
How To Slow Down
Now there remains the question on how to slow down. It’s a constant practice and there are plenty of ways to reduce the stress and the constant rush in your life. The most obvious would be to do less. This sounds hard for many people, but by doing less you have the chance to be present for the task at hand. There is no such thing as multitasking. There’s task-switching, which consumes a tremendous amount of energy. So by doing less you have more energy later on and will be able to do more, more efficiently.
The next obvious thing is to stop believing that you are a “good multitasker”. As I said, it doesn’t exist. It takes a lot of time to orient your brain capacity on a new task once it got distracted. In case that’s not crucial enough for you already to stop believing, your long-term memory and creativity will take a huge hit too.
Do as I did and take a weekend off. Just go out, reconnect with friends. Or spend a day in nature and enjoy the health benefits of forest bathing.
Another idea to make part of your newly found slowing down routine is to eat slower. Has several health benefits, the most predominant one is the better absorption of the nutrients in your food and you will be likely to enjoy it much more too as you have time to taste it properly.
Create a slowing down routine. This routine can involve yoga, meditation, loving-kindness and journaling. You can make this part of your day in different ways, so you will have a chance to fit it into your lifestyle. The benefits are huge as we have seen previously.
Finally, take a breath. It is the ultimate way of slowing down.
Having fun and a good time when taking a break gives you a chance to process things in and around your life. If you give yourself time to think and process and taking a step back and watching out of a distance will help you to move forward ultimately. Refueling your energy levels will give you the possibility to go all out again without burning out.
Like in fitness: you sprint, take a break. Sprint again. If you always sprint-sprint and sprint again you will tire fast and won’t last for long.
Here’s a final thought for you:
Don’t push more, push better. Doing more never beats doing better.
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