Chances are, you’ve thought these five words before:
But when things slow down . . .
Maybe you’ve even added some more words at the end:
But when things slow down . . . I’ll start that ministry . . . take that vacation . . . finish writing that book . . .
Thoughts like those point to a problem: You’re too busy. You’re running yourself into the ground. And unfortunately, slowing down in life doesn’t just happen by accident. You can’t stumble into having a balanced life.
That’s because life only keeps moving faster, and you have to keep moving faster to avoid falling behind. If you’re not careful, you’ll live your entire life rushing from one thing to the next in a constant whirlwind of chaos. When you get that busy, you miss out on the best parts of life.
So, let’s talk about why slowing down is important and discuss some practical ways you can slow down.
The Importance of Slowing Down
Why is slowing down so important? Well, when you live at a constant breakneck pace, it takes a huge toll on your mental health, physical health, relationships and productivity.
But when you prioritize slowing down, you can:
- Focus on what’s truly important in life. When you live a busy and distracted life, you lose sight of the people and things that matter most to you. Slowing down allows you to set your priorities and stick to them.
- Stay healthy—physically and mentally. Over-the-top busyness leads to stress, and chronic stress will wear down your mental and physical health. Psychologists and doctors call this unofficial condition hurry sickness, a form of anxiety fueled by constantly trying to squeeze just one more thing into our already packed schedules. Yeah, let’s avoid that.
- Be more productive. This sounds backward, but rest is crucial for productivity. No, really. When you rush and hurry through your work, you’re more likely to make mistakes, and that forces you to go back and redo things you could’ve just gotten right the first time. Going slow and enjoying the moment allows you to bring your best energy and mental focus to your work.
Here’s the deal: If you don’t slow down, you’ll miss out on a ton.
How to Slow Down
Let’s talk about how to slow down and stop feeling so overwhelmed all the time. Now, you need to know that slowing down takes a ton of discipline. You’ve got to choose to go against what the rest of the world is doing. But it’s worth it—we promise.
Here are a few practical ways to slow down.
1. Pay attention to what gets your attention.
Part of the reason we stink at slowing down is that we try to divide our attention between a million things all at once. We think multitasking will help us get more done, but it really only leaves us stressed and frazzled.
One way to address this is to spend some time considering where your attention is directed—the people, thoughts and circumstances that you focus on the most. If you don’t like what you discover, it may be time to make some changes.
2. Be present.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Just be present. Just be where you are. But if it were easy, we wouldn’t struggle to do it. In our busy lives, with so much competing for our attention, it feels almost impossible to focus on what’s in front of us.
That’s why you should take some time to identify what gets in the way and keeps you from being present. When you do that, it becomes easier to guard your attention so you can live in the moment.
Want to build a non-anxious life? Learn how in Dr. John Delony’s new book.
So, ask yourself, What gets in my way? What keeps me from being present? Make a list, then think through how you can put guardrails around the things that come up.
3. Put the cell phone away.
Yep, it’s time for the cell phone talk. Truth is, we’re addicted to our phones and the temporary rush we get from looking at them. The noises, alerts, dings and little red dots keep us feeling hurried because there’s always one more to check.
It’s like we’re on call every minute of every day and the entire world is competing for our attention through news, social media, texts, emails and app notifications.
You’ve got to stop letting your phone run your life. Don’t give it the power to steal your time, attention and peace of mind. You’ve got to set boundaries around your phone so you can control it—not the other way around.
It may be time to delete social media apps from your phone and just keep your accounts on your computer. Or maybe you need to lock your phone away in a drawer or container when you get home from work until your kids go to bed.
Look, drastic times call for drastic measures. It’s time to take your life back and stop letting your phone own you. That’s a huge key to slowing down your mind.
4. Focus on the people in front of you.
When we rush through life, we often push people to the side—whether they’re friends, family or even the cashier at the grocery store. As a result, we miss out on relationships, and those are super important.
You need to stop, slow down, put your devices away (yep, we’re really hammering that one home), look your loved ones in the eyes, and spend quality time with them. The connection that comes from those moments will help you slow down and be at peace.
5. Drive the speed limit.
If you want your world to slow down, you might make some progress by literally slowing down your car. Seriously, stop pretending you’re a NASCAR driver or starring in the latest installment of The Fast and the Furious.
Forcing yourself to drive the speed limit and experiencing slowness on a physical level will help you slow down mentally and emotionally.
6. Accept your limitations.
Do you ever feel like it’s your job to save the world? Have you ever signed up and said yes to something you didn’t even want to do because you worried that if you didn’t show up, the whole thing would fall apart?
We’ve all been there. But here’s the truth: The world will keep spinning if you say no to the rush and just take a nap instead. Yep, it’s true.
Accepting your limitations allows you to give yourself some margin for rest, and you need that. You’re not the Energizer Bunny—you’re a human being.
7. Make time to have fun.
The older we get, the harder it becomes to make fun a priority. We might even feel guilty for having fun—like it’s a luxury we can’t afford. Or we might completely forget how to have fun in the first place.
But you’ve got to slow down and make time to have fun, because it recharges your batteries. It lets you laugh and connect with people, and it infuses your hectic life with some much-needed joy.
So, what do you enjoy doing? It could be taking a cake decorating class, traveling, training for a race, or even playing video games. Whatever brings you joy, whatever reminds you of what it was like to be a kid, make time for it.
8. Practice silence.
Most of us aren’t very good at being still. After all, we live in a world full of noise where it’s possible to fill every single second of our day with a song, podcast or (unfortunately) TikTok. All those options and distractions often cause us to lose touch with the world around us and ourselves.
But what if you could just stop? What if you could tune out the world for a little bit? And what if you could replace it with silence?
Here’s one way to make that happen: For just one week, try spending all your time in the car in silence. No radio, podcast or music. That will definitely help calm your mind, and you may even decide to make it a permanent part of your commute.
You can also choose to be intentional about literally scheduling periods of silence throughout your week. Yep—put “Time to Be Silent” on your calendar, and make sure to keep that appointment. However you decide to make time for silence, just do it. You’ll be glad you did.
One of the problems with being too busy is that we don’t make time for reflection. We never pause to check in with ourselves, think back on the day, or consider whether we even like how we’re spending all that time.
The best way to fight back against that kind of mindlessness is journaling. It’s an awesome way to slow down and connect with yourself. If you’ve ever had a regular journaling time, you know just how valuable it is (and if you’ve fallen off the wagon with your journaling, now’s a great time to get back on it).
If you haven’t journaled before, a great place to start is with The Contentment Journal by Rachel Cruze. Rachel will walk you through a 90-day journaling process that will help you find peace and contentment while slowing down and enjoying life more.
Want to Build a Non-Anxious Life?
For guidance on making the daily choices that will help you be well, check out Dr. John Delony’s new book.
Slowing down isn’t easy, but it is possible. If you commit to following these 9 steps, you’ll start seeing a change in the pace of your life. And if you keep at it for long enough, your life will slow down and you’ll enjoy it more. Think of how much peace that would bring!