I work two full-time jobs and one part-time job. For most of my life, I have thrived on deadlines and pressure. I unintentionally built my reputation around my ability to get-the-job-done. When someone wanted it done precisely and fast, I was called in. I took great pride in this acknowledgment but after nearly twenty years of this pressure, I learned one major lesson: You need to slow it down.
In 2011, I went on a two-week exchange with my students to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. As I was running around trying to keep itineraries, passports, visas, and everything else organized, I stopped into a Starbucks for a cup of coffee to grab and go. There were no to-go cups. I was initially annoyed, but I looked around and noticed people sipping their coffee and chatting; only one person had a laptop and a few were just reading. Having a cup of coffee in Moscow is not a jolt to get you rushing through your day, it’s a way to bond with your friends or to meditate.
When did we all get so busy? Between work, school, families, and everything in between, it’s easy, but isn’t it a tad ironic that the technologies of today that have made multi-tasking so much easier have somehow made us so much busier? I have to set a reminder on my phone to remind me to slow it down.
What’s key about taking a moment to slow down extends far beyond the physical benefits of reducing stress into mental well-being. As I started to learn to manage my time better, I started adopting new mantras. After a large event, instead of allowing the stress of all the minor issues to overwhelm me, I would simply laugh: “Hey, nobody died.” Success. Before beginning an overflowing to-do list, I ask myself: “What will explode if I don’t get this done today?” Granted, my mantras are a bit maudlin, but you get the point: it’s all about perspective.
There are simple changes you can make in your life to take a moment to slow down. Here are a few ideas to start with:
- Take your lunch break. It’s included in your day for a moment of respite. Relaxed and rested workers are more effective. You will be better if you give yourself these 30-60 minutes just to eat your lunch.
- Pick a time to log-off. This means everything from email to social media. Only answer your phone if you have to. Unwind by shutting down.
- If possible, try walking to work. If not, park a little farther or get off the bus/train a stop earlier and use that walk as some time for just you and your mind.
- Take an actual coffee break. Follow suit with the Europeans and go sip your coffee in a real mug in a coffee shop.
- Set a real bedtime and stick to it.
- Skip out on some activities that feel more like obligations. Saying no is slowing down.
What are some suggestions you have to rest easy and take a moment to slow down?