Many of us embraced a slower pace of living throughout the pandemic – Here are some ways to hold onto it when life gets hectic …
It is rare for us humans to be forced to sit still. It is even rarer for the human collective to be forced to sit still at the same time and for the same reasons. The lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021 forced us all to sit still and slow down. The world was quiet, so we became quiet. For some this was hard at first but eventually the slower pace was our new normal, so to speak. For others, the lockdowns forced a reevaluation of resting habits. When we rest we have to slow down.
In this day and age, there can be a stigma around resting. In a society that rewards being busy, it can be hard to rest without a small feeling of guilt – or a large feeling of guilt. I am not sure where this comes from, but it has been a process of relearning how to rest for some people, you could say it’s a practice.
The lockdowns gave us a chance to look at our pace of life and flex this (resting) muscle. The pandemic (especially the beginning of it) disrupted our nervous systems a lot. It threw them into a state of flight or fight as a result of fear and uncertainty. What came from this was slowing down our days, slowing down our bodies, and turning to gentle ways to soothe and rest the body.
Now that life has transitioned back to a busy, faster pace here are some ways to hold onto that slower pace of living and help yourself to find the time to rest:
Start with what helps you slow down
The first step might be to think back to anything that helped you rest through the difficult time of lockdowns. What brought you a sense of ease, a sense of peace? Was it the daily walk, the baking of sourdough, the reading, the yoga practice you took up? When you have remembered something the next question is, how do you maintain that element of rest in your busy life now?
Turn your routines into rituals
Something else to try could be transforming your routines into rituals by just placing a little more importance on them. Big or small aspects of your day can be turned into rituals with just a little bit of mindfulness and attention. A way to do this is to get rid of multitasking when it comes to your day to day routines. If you are listening to the radio don’t scroll at the same time. If you are making your morning coffee don’t frantically clean the kitchen at the same time. Instead, something you could try is to take your coffee outside without a book, newspaper or phone and just sip and enjoy. Simply drawing a small bit of attention to our routines can bring more importance to them. I am aware this isn’t possible for everyone but if you can, take the opportunity to do things one at a time and enjoy the small moments in your life.
In a society that rewards being busy, it can be hard to rest without a small feeling of guilt – or a large feeling of guilt.
Slow down your mornings and/or evenings
If you’d like to take things a step further, extending your morning or nighttime routines could be just the ticket. Try setting your alarm an hour earlier before the kids rise to give yourself a longer morning. By beginning the day by doing something for ourselves first we are “filling up the cup”. This equips us to deal with any obstacles the day may bring with ease. The same can be said for the evening. By giving ourselves more time to wind down we are encouraging the body to rest and subsequently sleep better. You could look at it as gifting ourselves more time at the start and end of the day rather than giving because it is a gift. It is a gift that our minds and bodies will appreciate because slowing down these parts of the day only brings more presence and mindfulness.
Find pockets of time in your day and fill them with contentment
If there is not a lot of time in your day perhaps finding small pockets of time for yourself could be helpful. Five short minutes doing something for yourself before opening the work laptop can be huge. Consciously carve those five minutes out for yourself and fill them with something that will help you find peace. Some things to do could be stretching the body, applying hand cream with care, nourishing your body with a good snack, or making a cup of tea in your favourite mug. Taking those five minutes between work meetings to slow down can give us a chance to breathe and return to a state of peace and contentment before the next task begins.
Gently move the body
There is sometimes a great urge to shock the body with exercise whether that be intense cardio, weight training or high paced spin classes. In other times it is perhaps better to give the body gentle movement. By slowing down through yoga, walks or recovery runs there is a chance for contemplating and reflecting. For some, exercise is a means to empty the mind but for others, it’s a chance to connect with their own thoughts and tease things out. Yoga or walks are great for this contemplation space. A side benefit of yoga is creating that mind, body, and breath connection. Walks bring us out into nature which the nervous system loves. Connecting with the breath or with nature can ground us and anchor us during stressful, busy times. Yoga with Maura has some great videos on her Instagram that you could follow.
Nothing quite slows down or stops time like reading or writing and there is the added bonus of detaching from screens when doing so. If reading or writing helped you slow down during lockdown why not make time during your day or week for it? Both activities require the body to find stillness and can be a chance to rest and sometimes what’s better than curling into bed with a good book? Perhaps a book on slowing down could be worth a try. The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim or Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary are very insightful. Journaling out your thoughts at the beginning or end of the day can also be a fantastic tool to empty the busy mind and create more clarity.
Consistently finding time in our day to slow down and rest can only lead to peace and contentment. The reason to slow down is to enjoy life and be more present in our day to day life. Sometimes we rush through life without even realising and the small benefit of the lockdowns was a reminder to us all of how important it is to slow down and take care of ourselves. But it is a practice and slowing down only benefits us if it is consistent. By introducing this slower pace of living every day you might find more peace in your life, more enjoyment, and less stress but it is all in the practice.
Main featured illustration by Becky Donnelly
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