Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s harder to slow down than it is to stay busy? Do you ever have trouble sitting at a red light without pulling out your phone? When you find yourself in a waiting room, do you sit and enjoy the quiet or do you grab a magazine? What about when you are eating alone… are you mindful of your food or do you watch T.V. or scroll through social media?
In this day and age with the internet at our fingertips, moments when we are not inundated with information, notifications, or cyber communications are rare.
Personally, I’ve gone through times where I have intentionally unplugged. I can remember a relaxing vacation where my husband and I swam, snorkeled, walked on the beach, talked to fellow resort guests, played games, read books, and took afternoon naps.
It’s hard enough to step away from day-to-day responsibilities, and intentionally unplugging allows for a refreshing reset. When the trip was over, part of me wanted to continue the digital detox keeping life’s pace slow, and part of me loves being busy and knowing what is happening in the lives of people I love.
So, how do we slow down while staying connected? How can we be more present in our lives and less distracted by technology and the ding of every text message? I’ve put together six things that have helped me slow down and be more present in my life.
1. Choose specific times during the day to check email and social media
I actually close my Facebook tab these days and only pull it out once (okay, or twice) a day. If you’re checking social media or email from your phone, you can turn off your notifications. During the set time that you are checking those accounts, try setting a timer on your phone, so you know you won’t go past your allotted time. Limiting time on social media not only helps you be present in your own life, but it also reduces the amount of time you (and the temptation to) compare your life to the highlight reel that everyone else is posting online.
2. When you’re out with friends or loved ones, leave your phone on vibrate and put it away
I don’t check my phone while I’m out to dinner with my husband, even if I want to look something up. There is something to be said for not always letting Google settle your disagreements. Try it! We all laugh when we see a family of four or a group of friends out to dinner and everyone’s on their phones! It’s especially challenging now that menus are also available digitally.
3. When you are eating dinner alone resist the urge to read, watch television or call a friend
Have you heard of mindful eating? It’s paying attention to the flavors of the food you are eating, chewing, and enjoying each bite. This helps you eat more slowly, recognizing fullness as you get there instead of when you’re stuffed. I think you’ll also find that it evokes a feeling of gratitude as you consume the deliciousness that has blessed your table.
4. Be grateful for what is going well in your life
This is a great way to slow down and be in the present moment. When we are grateful, we are fully focused on the here and now. It takes us out of worrying about the future and reminds us not to dwell on the past. My husband and I have “gratitude time” when we wake up and when we go to bed. If that feels excessive to you, start with once a day. Perhaps, share one thing you are grateful for with a friend or with your partner. Writing down what you are grateful for is another way to slow down. Grab your journal, even if it’s while you sip your morning coffee, and start your appreciation. Good things continue to flow when we are focused on the good.
This scares a lot of people, but it really doesn’t have to be scary. Meditation doesn’t mean that you have to sit quietly for hours. Meditation can mean that you are in the flow. Maybe you like moving meditation like yoga or running. One of my favorite ways to meditate is to find some really beautiful spa music (check Pandora or Spotify for a station) and go for a walk. You can also simply sit quietly for five minutes or lay in the sunshine. Whatever you decide, just start somewhere.
6. Take a bath
Taking a bath can be an amazing way to slow down. Light some candles. Play some music. Toss in some bath salts and you’ll be enjoying the stillness in no time.
Slowing down is hard! When we slow down we have to reflect and be alone with our thoughts… and let’s face it, that is not always fun. Part of living a thriving life full of love and light means feeling our own feelings, not just helping others with theirs. When we slow down we might be forced to notice and feel our feelings and to heal, but I can tell you from experience, it is worth it. You deserve the healing. You deserve to set boundaries and take care of yourself. You deserve the slowdown, and everyone else in your life will benefit when you are feeling rejuvenated.