Slow Down to Rid Yourself of Stress

If you feel wound up, you are not alone! This year has been stressful all around. We’ve been writing about it as stress takes an enormous toll on your health. It’s essential to relax, but sometimes trying to force yourself to relax can be almost as stressful. After all, we have a lot to do! But, one of the best ways to get things done, get on with your day and feel more “on top of things” is to slow down.

It seems completely counterintuitive. Especially in today’s world of text messages, fast delivery and “on-demand” services. But taking a step back will make your body (and mind) ease up. Take a breath and slow down everything. Your body reacts to stress by going into a fight-or-flight mode. And when you are stressed out, you can have that at a low level all the time. All you do is react to your situation instead of being in the moment.

And when I say slowing down I mean, you’re talking slow, you’re walking slow, you slow your thinking down, too,” said Michelle Anne, a certified professional coach with training in neuroscience and leadership. “Slowing down is the most profound thing that can heighten your awareness. Otherwise, your brain is in that default mode network, and it’s just going to respond automatically with words or actions you’re not even thinking about.”

When you move in “slo-mo” like this, you become more aware of your body and actions, and your head can clear up. Double the amount of time you allot yourself for a task. If you can do something in 20 minutes, take it easy and do it in 40. Let yourself linger. You may find that a usually exhausting or stressful task is now just time-consuming but not challenging or distressing. Give yourself permission not to time the job. So often, we set deadlines for ourselves for little reason. It’s a case of, “I’m doing this on Saturday morning, and I’ll be done by noon.” But what is happening if you miss the deadline? Erase the deadline from the statement, and you may find the stress disappears from the plan.

Another step is to stop multitasking. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. At work, or when running a family, you have to balance tasks. But when you are having “me time,” pick an activity. It might not seem like multitasking when you are doing two pleasant things. But surfing the internet on your phone while watching the TV counts as multitasking. Dieticians always suggest focusing on your meal and not multitasking while eating, but it should go for everything. You enjoy a book more if you don’t have music; you listen to a conversation more if you aren’t trying to do a puzzle. Trying to handle multiple things — even pleasant things — at once is stressful in small ways that build.

Hopefully, by slowing down, you’ll find your stress slipping away. When that happens, it becomes a lot easier to get things done without feeling overwhelmed. And, while it might take a little longer, you’ll find yourself crossing things off your to-do list with more ease!

Banner image: Leo Sammarco via Unsplash
December 16, 2020
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