Thinking about ways to slow down may feel impossible during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season or another busy time. Perhaps you are feeling rundown or overwhelmed with the pressure and obligations that keep you trying to maintain an unsustainable pace. Or, fear of falling behind puts some distance between you and the idea of slowing down.
Years ago, I met a woman at an event where I shared my story about simplifying, slowing down, getting rid of stress, and doing less to live well with multiple sclerosis. The woman I met had MS too. She asked me why I wasn’t afraid. She said she couldn’t slow down and do less. In fact, since her diagnosis, she was always in a hurry. Everything was a rush. She said she was scared that soon she wouldn’t be healthy enough to do what she had to get done so she was pushing to get it done now, before she got too sick. As if it were a forgone conclusion.
My approach was the opposite. I knew if I didn’t slow down and take care that getting sicker would be a forgone conclusion. Our conversation made me wonder if that’s why we are all in such a hurry. Are we afraid that if we don’t rush we’ll miss something, drop the ball, fall behind, run out of time and energy? Logically, we know the opposite is happening. When we hurry, we miss more, drop more, and fall behind as we exhaust ourselves trying to keep up. When I get caught up in hurry or I’m rushing around doing too much or trying to get it all done, I feel exhausted and rundown. Additionally, I make more mistakes when I rush. So for me, to live well with MS or really, just to live well …
- consistency is more important than intensity.
- easing through works better than efforting through.
- when my body says rest, I rest.
- going slowly gets me further than rushing.
99 Inexpensive Ways To Slow Down And Enjoy The Present Moment
While you could get a massage or take a vacation to slow down, this list includes inexpensive (mostly free) things you can do almost every day. Most of them don’t take a lot of time or energy either. You’ll find ways to slow down in seven categories: body, surroundings, doing less, digital, mind, doing slow things and simplicity. Use these recommendations to come back to the present moment anytime but especially when you feel overwhelmed, stressed out or exhausted.
Ways to slow down with your body:
The mind-body connection is powerful. In this article, Therapist, Rachel Shanken says, “Science has proven that the way you hold your body and the way you move can dictate much more about how you feel than you may have realized. You can use your body to heal your mind. You have ability to change your mood by shifting your body.” Use your body to help you slow down in the following ways.
1. Feel your tongue on the roof of your mouth
2. Squeeze your fists and open them.
3. Squeeze your toes and release them
4. Lift your shoulders, then drop them.
5. Lift your eyebrows, then relax them.
6. Put your hands on your heart.
7. Feel your feet on the ground.
8. Unclench your jaw.
10. Move around.
Let your surroundings help you slow down in the following ways:
What’s around you can affect what’s within you. Create a slow atmosphere to soothe your nervous system and encourage a slow down. You don’t have spend a lot to enjoy a slow space.
11. Light a candle.
12. Turn on the most relaxing playlist in the world.
13. Cuddle up with a comfy blanket.
14. Wear your softest clothes.
15. Tidy up.
16. Appreciate your surroundings.
17. Notice 5 things you can see.
18. Notice 4 things you can hear.
19. Notice 3 things you can touch.
20. Notice 2 things you can smell.
21. Notice 1 thing you can taste.
Slow down by doing less, way less with these ideas:
One time, my friend Heidi told me, “It’s easier to take back a no than to take back a yes.” Remembering those wise words has made it even easier to say things like, “No thank you.” “Not today.” “I’m not interested.” “I’m not the right person for that.”
At first glance, you may think, how negative, but what’s behind each no is a whole-hearted yes. And if I change my mind, I can more easily take back a no. I’m grateful for this shift in perspective. Saying no with more ease is critical to protecting your time for the things you love. When you crave a slower, more spacious schedule, just remember, it’s easier to take back a no than to take back a yes. Use the following recommendations to do less, slow down and make room for the present moment.
22. Say no (even if you aren’t busy).
24. Take a nap.
25. Go to bed early.
26. Cancel something.
27. Under-schedule your week.
28. Plan a nothing day.
29. Create a weekly list instead of a daily to-do list.
30. Make a not-to-do list.
31. When they say, go big or go home … go home.
32. Don’t worry about what’s next.
33. Stop catching up.
34. Don’t do one more thing.
35. Resist the seduction of getting things done.
37. Take things off your plate.
38. Go deeper instead of wider.
39. Be still.
40. Sleep well.
Digital ways to slow down:
I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren. I want to read more. I’m sick of being distracted from doing real work. I want to take better care of my family. I hope to be more creative. I need to sleep better. We need to set a better example for our kids. I want to be more present. – These are all reasons people have shared with me that they want to spend less time on their phones and other digital devices. It’s clear that spending less time on your phone will allow you to spend more time in your life. Here are a few ways to slow down your digital consumption.
41. Turn your phone off.
42. Remove email from your phone.
43. Take a news fast.
44. Try a digital sabbatical for 24 hours.
45. Take a social media break.
46. Remove distracting apps from your phone.
47. Set boundaries around your digital consumption.
48. Pretend the internet is broken.
Your mind knows ways to slow down too:
So many of the changes you make in your life are invisible. They happen within you. They happen when you decide to make small shifts or take tiny steps to change the way you think.
49. Remove yourself from drama.
50. Prioritize Simple Pleasures.
51. Embrace Microjoys.
52. Appreciate the Glimmers in your life.
53. Stop measuring your worth by what you get done.
54. Escape the worry trap.
55. Don’t explain yourself.
56. Release guilt
57. Regret less.
58. Release what you think other people think
59. Feel happier.
60. Stop seeking validation from others.
61. Name your feelings.
Use simplicity to help you slow down:
If you want to slow down and enjoy your favorite things, only own your favorite things. Simplifying will help you find ways to slow down as you create time and space for what matters to you. Decluttering is a big part of slowing down and simplifying. The LA Times has reported that the average American home contains more than 300,000 items. It’s impossible to have 300,000 favorite things!
To make things easier, stop thinking about what you are getting rid of and instead consider what you are making space for. Make space for laughing, resting and connecting. Make space to show up for your life.
62. Empty your junk drawer.
63. Let go of things that hold you back.
64. Declutter your closet.
65. Give a bunch of stuff away.
66. Quit reading a book or watching a show you don’t enjoy.
67. Release your pain.
68. Clean off your desk.
69. Declutter 63 things.
70. Donate the books you already read.
71. Try a 30-day decluttering challenge.
72. Let go of things that make you feel bad.
73. Simplify anything.
Do slow things:
Because put so much value on getting things done and efficient productivity, everyone is moving too fast as they attempt to do it all. Everything suffers as a result including: the quality of the things we are doing because of our rushed state, our connections and conversations because we are so distracted and our own health as stress and burnout robs our energy and threatens our physical, mental and emotional health. Sometimes slowing down our life comes down to doing slow things. Here are some examples.
74. Eat slowly.
75. Cook slowly.
76. Dance slowly.
77. Walk slowly.
78. Respond slowly.
79. Wake slowly.
81. Read poetry.
82. Be quiet.
83. Write a love letter.
84. Savor a delicious bite.
85. Catch a sunset or a sunrise.
88. Take Care of A Plant.
92. Try tapping.
93. Pet a dog or a cat.
94. Count backwards.
95. Create a slow morning routine.
96. Prioritize self-care practices.
97. Say something really nice to someone.
98. Say something really nice to yourself.
99. Be gentle.
We’ve already tried the fast, furious, more, more, more way. Perhaps it’s time for slow, steady, soft, and sweet. Instead of rushing, let’s rest. Instead of pushing, let’s be still. Even if you aren’t in search of slow living, discovering ways that help you slow down and enjoy the present moment will remind you that the best parts of life are happening every day. You don’t have to do much to notice and show up for them.