A Slow Down Day blog
Slow Down Day is all about taking your foot off the gas and being present for a day during a normally busy time. It gives you a chance to refuel and recharge, and press pause on the Christmas chaos.
The great thing about Slow Down Day is it can be celebrated wherever you are, so if you find yourself at home for the day, here are some ways you can slow down too:
Get everything ready for the morning the night before With a little advance planning, you can have an easy-going, leisurely morning. Put the coffee and a mug out next to the kettle, put your breakfast things out on the side, lay out your clothes for the next day, and leave your packed bag by the door. It’s surprising how much time this saves you in the morning, and how less busy your mind is when it doesn’t have to think about all these things first thing.
Eat your meals slowly Put down your phone and focus on the tastes and textures of your food. This will help you to enjoy every mouthful, and to pay more attention to your body’s cues that tell you when you’re full.
Put books or magazines in strategic places Think of places you normally sit looking aimlessly at your phone – next to your bed, on the coffee table, in your bag… and try picking up something to read that isn’t your phone. Smart phones promote a busy flow of endless information that can absorb your attention for big chunks of time without your noticing. Reading a book helps you concentrate on one thing for a long period of time, and to switch off from the outside world.
Spend at least 10 minutes meditating You can get free apps, podcasts and YouTube videos that offer guided meditations in a range of different styles so you can find something that works for you. Meditating can be done sitting on a chair or lying down – you don’t have to sit on the floor, and most meditations are silent. The goal is to calm your mind and experience the present moment, allowing you to continue your day with a clear perspective.
Plan an outdoor activity Being outside is good for you, even in the cold weather, and being active puts you in touch with your body. Spending time in nature particularly has been shown to have positive effects on wellbeing, and as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. So don your wellies and a warm coat and go for a walk in the park or the woods. Or for the more adventurous, try an outdoor ice rink or a high ropes course.
Connect with a friend or family member We’re so connected these days it’s almost removed the need for conversation as we know all about what’s going on in our friend’s lives from their online posts. But having a conversation with no motive other than to just catch up and talk about what’s on your mind can be really enriching and reminds you that there’s more going on for everyone beneath the surface. Face to face is best, but even if you pick up the phone, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Daydream When was the last time you sat doing nothing and got lost in thought? Children do it a lot but as we grow and we’re told that every minute counts, we fill our minds with purposeful thoughts and don’t allow the daydreams in. But what better way to slow down that to let your mind wander and see where it takes you. Sometimes the best ideas come when our minds are free to wend and wind the way they wish.
Change your perspective on chores As nice as a day of daydreaming, meditating, and reading sounds, if you’ve got a day at home, you’ve probably got some chores on your to do list. But chores can be an opportunity to be meditative, and to daydream, or even to listen to an audiobook or your favourite music. If you find chores a burden, challenge yourself to think about them differently – what do you do regularly that isn’t a burden – getting dressed is just a thing you do – can you think about cleaning the kitchen with that mindset too? How does it feel when you change your perspective?
Make your favourite meal from scratch This is about paying attention to the food we eat, knowing what goes into it, and appreciating the effort that goes into making a meal. A recipe search online will give you some ideas to suit your skill level, maybe a simple bolognaise without using sauce from a jar, or something more exotic if you have a flair for cooking. Focus on each step, giving it your full attention, and notice the smells and tastes and sounds of the food as you chop, grate, fry, and boil. Enjoy the process of creating something meaningful.
Have a bath or a long shower A warm, relaxing bath is a great way to slow down as it forces you to stay in one place, relatively free form distractions. Make sure you won’t be disturbed (as far as you can) and use the time to calm down and unwind. A long, warm shower can be helpful too, focusing on the feeling of the water and the smell of the soap, and the ‘white noise’ sound of the water could actually boost your creative thinking too.
Connecting with a friend or family member can be really enriching
Whatever you choose to do, the important thing is to give your mind and body a moment of respite from the usual stresses of life, and do something to help you recharge.
For ideas about how to slow down at work, see How you can celebrate Slow Down Day at work
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