Do you sometimes feel like you are stuck in a giant hamster wheel, running and running with no end in sight? Do you wish your life would slow down, but that old wheel just seems to spin faster and faster?
Maybe you need a month to focus on slowing down.
I have a friend who declares this month “Slowvember.” For the past several years she has tried to be intentional about slowing the pace of her life during the month of November. This doesn’t mean she spends her days meditating at a retreat center. Oh no. She still has three kids to raise and two businesses to run. She believes you can have Slowvember in the midst of real life.
I think she’s on to something.
I realize we can’t slow the giant hamster wheel of life, but we can choose to get off the wheel now and then and put some slow in our lives.
Five lies that steal slow from your life (or five hamster wheels to avoid).
I am the energizer bunny.
You’re not, actually. But maybe you believe giving yourself downtime is weakness or laziness. Maybe you think you have to keep going and going, just like that stupid pink bunny, because you hate to waste time doing stuff that doesn’t look productive. News Flash: No matter how awesome the battery, the bunny will eventually run out of energy. If you don’t give yourself permission to get the rest you need you will be trying to function on depleted batteries, like a flashlight that’s going dim. And unlike bunnies or flashlights, we can’t swap out a few double-As and get back to full power. We need downtime, both physical and mental, to recharge our batteries. Truly productive people understand that giving themselves times of slow enable them to perform at their best.
Others come first
They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You and I have squeaky people in our lives, people who are happy to drain all our time and energy on what they want. Your squeaky people may include your boss, your sister, your child, or the nice lady at the food pantry. If you have a hard time saying No to others, you can easily get stuck on the hamster wheel of serving everyone but yourself. If so, it’s time to squeak up. If you can’t say No to the squeaky wheels in your life, you need to be very intentional about carving out time for yourself. Actually write it into your schedule, and then resist the urge to give that time away when someone asks you for something. If you don’t think “me time” is important, see number one.
Waiting is an intrusion
Do you get fidgety in grocery store lines and doctor’s waiting rooms? Maybe it’s time for an attitude adjustment. What if, instead of seeing times of waiting as frustrating intrusions on your busy schedule, you embraced them as welcome moments of respite? Why not use waiting for some slow activity that recharges, rather than letting the wait build internal steam. Keep a book or sketch pad in your purse. Use the time praying, searching the room for reasons to be grateful, or sharing a few cheerful words with the person beside you. You don’t have to hate the wait.
Silence should be filled
We are so used to cramming activity into every moment that when find a chunk of unscheduled time we instinctively reach for something to occupy our minds. A Sudoku puzzle, a YouTube video, the latest smart phone game. We so rarely just sit back and soak in the silence. Let our minds wander. Daydream, meditate, or simply absorb the beauty and wonder that surrounds us if only we took time to notice. Don’t be afraid to spend a few quiet moments doing nothing. It might renew you more than you think.
Slow means doing nothing
Not all downtime is equal. Sitting comatose in front of the TV, bingewatching season three of your favorite show is not going to recharge your batteries as well as taking a walk in the woods, or playing golf, or baking cookies with your grandchildren. Slow doesn’t mean doing nothing, it means taking time to do what you love. What activities bring joy to your soul? Bring more of that into your life and you will find more energy to face the hamster wheel.
What will it take to jump off the hamster wheel and add more slow to your life this month?