Hurrying from one assignment into the next. Meeting one deadline means making the next. With the end of one course starts the next. Does this sound familiar? As students, we are naturally taught to think ahead, therefore, living in the moment and taking it slow seems rather difficult to do. In this article, I will give you some suggestions on how to take it slow and how to build resilience towards the fast-paced society we live in.
Rushing on the bike even if one is not under time pressure. Buying so many groceries that it’s an awful task to get them home (especially on a bike). Taking the weekend to finish up assignments. Scheduling one’s week with every single day filled at least halfway. While these examples seem random, they all have one commonality. They create stress. Sometimes we have no choice but to hurry from A to B, for example, when we are late. Sometimes we must study on the weekend if we have an exam or a deadline right after. And yes, sometimes we plan a dinner with friends and are in need of all the groceries right at that moment. But most of the time we don’t need to get ourselves into these situations. Most of the time, however, we still do.
Why The Stress?
Hence, we have not only been taught to focus ahead but we are also embedded in a society that never stops “progressing”, which is exposed through social media.
I believe this comes mainly from our own society. Firstly, we are now about 15 years within a school-like cycle of learning and practising, continuously on “focusing ahead”. Secondly, the entire world around us progresses in a blink. Think of the continuous technological innovations throughout the year. Or the number of new fashion brands that pop up on Instagram each week. Let alone the release of new clothing per day. There is no end in sight. And finally, there is social media which continuously shows us what others do or where they are at in their life. Hence, we have not only been taught to focus ahead but we are also embedded in a society that never stops “progressing”, which is exposed through social media.
Taking it Slow IS Progress
It might seem as taking it slow then prevents you from progressing as everyone else does around you. In contrast, taking it slow enables you to make progress to begin with. In my previous article I wrote about the importance of keeping a balance between resources one spends on, for example, studying, and the resources one gains through for example playing soccer. It’s a balancing act. In the article, I visualised this by describing a personal well-being scale with energy-taking activities on the left and energy-giving activities on the right. “Taking it slow” can be seen as falling under the energy-giving activities. Meaning, that without “taking it slow” one will for example not have the energy to study and make progress. Because if one only rushes oneself continuously striving ahead, one not only misses out on living in the moment but also hurries right into burnout.
Why Don’t We Let Go?
Here we are again, questioning why we don’t simply take it slow. First, let me give you an example that I am sure most of you can relate to.
Imagine you wake up, you are exhausted, your arms and legs feel heavy, and getting up seems like torture. You are also not in a good mood and perhaps see a slight headache coming your way. But you still pressure yourself to the library. You enter, and you already know that this will not be a productive day. You get yourself a coffee and after staring at your laptop for half of the day you go home, left with most of the assignment still to do the next day. The next day, your mood is not much better. But the deadline is coming closer, so you are more aware and determined to make it. You leave the library drained but accomplished. You finished the assignment completely.
We’ve all been there. Feeling pressure to go to the library despite knowing that it won’t be a productive day. Instead, imagine we took it slow, we could have had an entire day off! We would not have made more or less progress. But the regained energy from taking the day off may have made us wake up with a clear mind and ready to finish the assignment with precision.
How To Take It Slow?
I cannot tell you what triggers you not to take it slow. This is something you must learn to identify yourself by for example asking “Do I need to pressure/rush/stress myself right now?”. But I hope the following ideas help to visualise how to start taking it slow in the first place:
- Determine and Deal with your biggest stressors
- For me, this was getting ready in the morning. So now I give myself two and sometimes three (Yes THREE) hours to simply wake up with some meditative music, get dressed, clean my room, enjoy a relaxed breakfast, etc.
- Make and Take time to eat
- Be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner we should all at least have an hour to sit down, relax and eat without any distractions
- SLOW DOWN if you notice you rush yourself without any reason!
- There is no need to rush yourself on the way to a friend.
- Declutter your agenda!
- Don’t pack your days so that you don’t look forward to them
- Schedule one fun or relaxing activity per day
- Implement days of “doing nothing”
- Don’t try to make it all
- For example, my friend told me that she wanted to go to the library to study before her exam in the afternoon. Instead of stressing herself, she decided to simply stay at home and take it slow! (Love it)
- Let go and Be mindful
- Listen to your body before you make any plans
- It’s OK to cancel from now and then!
- Finally: Take a deep breath!
I hope some of these tips will help you to remove the stress you create yourself and essentially enable you to take it slow. If you are interested to dive more into “Slow living” then check out the blog called “Vanilla Papers” or “SLOWW”.
Cover: Bruce Mars
Edited by: Audrius Šaras