Learning To Slow Down in a Fast-Paced World
Convenience is wonderful. Having everything at our disposal, all the time. Never having to worry about opening hours when we have online shopping, or missing a TV show when we have catch up and streaming. But when everything is available 24/7, it means we have to be too.
People apologise for taking social media breaks, we’re overloaded with information, and if you don’t keep up with current events you’re left behind. We’re under pressure to be plugged in all the time and it’s taking a toll on our mental health.
We’re exhausted all the time because we’re not allowed to switch off. Every waking moment has to be filled with something productive so we can make more money, work more hours, learn more skills. And then we experience burnout, and we’re even farther behind, there’s no way we can catch up. It’s hard not to feel like we were doomed from the start.
Mindfulness takes the autonomy away from our day to day lives, and helps us slow down and truly be present in the moment. Practising mindfulness sounds like an easy task, but nowadays with constant stimulation and entertainment around us, it’s a real challenge to be bored. How many times have you picked up your phone today?
We weren’t meant to live at such a fast pace. When we slow down and take in our surroundings, we appreciate so many people and things that we might have previously took for granted. It’s better for our health, and it’s better for our relationships. Practising mindfulness helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so we’re better able to manage them instead of getting overwhelmed. We’re more tuned in to our senses and surroundings and we’re less likely to do something on autopilot because our brain isn’t distracted – or it’s not desperate for a distraction anymore.
Mindfulness is easy to practice daily and doesn’t require hours of your time. You can practice mindfulness wherever you are or whatever you’re doing. If you find yourself being pulled in every direction and your thoughts are scattered all over the place, start with some mindful breathing. If you can, go somewhere quiet. Take one big, deep breath. Aim for around 5 seconds. Hold it for a second, and then exhale, releasing the tension from your brow, jaw, and shoulders. Imagine the hundreds of scattered thoughts and noise leaving with the tension, and allow yourself to start from the beginning with a clear mind.
There are loads of other great mindfulness techniques you can practice every day or just whenever you feel stressed.
Focusing on one thing, and not having your mind in six places at once, will reduce stress. The stress that used to pile up and eat away at you doesn’t have any power over you now; because you have control. You might eventually find that you don’t get as overwhelmed with the fast paced world as you used to, and you start doing things with intention, instead of just doing things for the sake of it. You might learn something about yourself, about what you need and what you don’t need. You’ll learn that it’s okay to disconnect, and go down your own path. The easiest way to win the game is to stop playing. Instant and autonomous works for robots; not people.
Author bio: Zoe Thomson is a freelance writer living in Scotland with her boyfriend and one spoiled pug. She runs her own mental health blog, No Light Without Darkness, and has published work on The Mighty and I am 1 in 4. You can find me here: Blog, Twitter