In this busy world, it can seem crazy and even selfish to find time to relax. Why should we pause when it feels like everyone is spinning? Not only do we need to take care of ourselves, but we also need to focus on schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and surviving a global pandemic. Combined, or even alone, these don’t offer much extra time for relaxation. It’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed because there isn’t enough time for yourself. With all these roadblocks, how can we slow down?
In life, there is an unspoken and implicit timeline that compels us to act quickly. It’s easy to get lost in a world that’s constantly moving in the fast lane. We are rushed straight from high school to college, then to find a job, then to start a life and a family. Everything is supposedly linked quickly from one to the other. Sure, this path may be perfectly ideal for some, but if not…what if you were rebellious and set your own pace in life? Below, I’ve put together a list of tips on how to slow down when it feels like life is constantly pushing you forward.
1. Organize your life
Putting off work can lead to stress and the common feeling that there is no time to complete tasks. If your life is well planned, it becomes harder to procrastinate and easier to find time because your work will be organized for you. With the weight of procrastination lifted, you can start seeing results fast and feel like you already have more free time.
I recommend keeping a planner/checklist to write down your homework because throughout high school it became my best friend. Together we take my day in an organized way. Paper planners can be found at a local Staples and digital planners such as iStudiez can be found in the App Store. Here in your planner, you can specifically allocate time for activities that calm you down like meditation or reading. This will leave you feeling accomplished and productive when you complete a relaxing activity on your checklist.
2. Don’t overwork yourself
So many wonderful opportunities will likely come your way as a student. Whether it’s clubs, sports, parties, interesting activities can be hard to dismiss. While it’s good to be an active participant in your community, you won’t be able to enjoy it all if you’re overworked. Pick a few activities that reflect your interests and dive into them instead of stretching.
3. Enjoy the present
If we go through life like it’s one big checklist and just work to complete the next activity, we won’t be able to stop and enjoy the present. Pay attention to the moment you are in and try not to let your mind take over you. It may not be easy, but it will be beneficial because once a moment has passed, it will never come again.
4. Find peaceful moments
Throughout your day, you may find yourself with short periods of time between classes, clubs, etc. During these times, it is crucial to center yourself and take deep breaths. Being a student right now usually means extreme workload and unimaginable pressure, so take advantage of those quiet moments. These moments of calm can help you feel better prepared for whatever comes next in your life. It can also be nice to check it out for yourself and see what you need for a successful day. This is the perfect time to process everything and let yourself decompress. In our busy lives, we may not think about our physical or mental health, doing so during these free times could be astronomically beneficial.
5. Stop comparing yourself to your peers
Your classmates can go to school, train, go to clubs, volunteer, etc., and somehow finish all their tasks on time. We all work at different paces and can take on different amounts of work. When you stop comparing yourself to your peers, it becomes easier to stop seeing life as a race and a competition. Life is better without the pressure to do everything faster than everyone else. We all work our best and it can show up in different ways for each person.
6. Slow down physically
When we feel rushed, we can amplify this by physically moving quickly from one thing to another. If you’re running somewhere, ask yourself “Would I be late if I slowed down and enjoyed my surroundings?” If the answer is no, consider looking up and slowing your pace. Often we miss so much around us because we are constantly in a rush.
7. Connect with nature
Stop and smell the flowers. Literally. No matter what connecting with nature means to you – going for a bike ride, a walk with your pet, a hiking excursion – getting some fresh air without any distractions is a great way to find time for yourself and to connect with your environment. Getting outside could be the opportunity YOUR body needs to take a step back and consider the bigger picture rather than the near future.
8. Do your comfort activities
Listen to your favorite song, re-read your favorite book, watch your favorite movie again. This practice can bring you peace because it can bring you back to quiet times. It will also help you because you know you like these things, so they are more likely to make you happy with their familiar charm.
9. Cook for yourself or others
Who doesn’t love receiving a batch of freshly baked cookies? Surprising your friends or family members with something you put your heart into can really be uplifting. Seeing something you took the time to do makes someone else happy is rewarding. Plus, who doesn’t love to cook? ! Or if you are no more desire for delicacies, why not take the time to indulge yourself. You deserve it. Baking can be the perfect opportunity to get lost in an activity with a DELICIOUS ending.
10. Write letters to your future self
“Dear future me,
We are well.
Above is just a suggestion for the beginning of a letter you could write to yourself in the future. Thinking about your future you can be a healthy reminder that whatever is occupying your brain right now, or whatever is stressing you out, will pass. Conceptualizing that your stressors are valid and temporary can become easier with these letters.
PS… you are fine.
Take it easy; Don’t blame yourself if it’s hard to break fast habits, but recognize and try some of these tips if you feel rushed all the time. The feeling that we need to get on with life in the fastest way is a source of avoidable anxiety, which these steps can help with. If we get stuck in fifth gear and forget to slow down, we can go our whole lives never really being present in the moment. Look out the car window, blast your favorite playlist, and release the accelerator, baby!
Of course, taking your whole life slowly may not be beneficial, but giving yourself time to collect yourself is extremely important. In addition, taking the time to slow down allows you to make fewer impulsive decisions and to make more considered decisions. To move forward, I recommend that you live your life with the wisdom that Ferris Bueller once graciously passed on to us: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.