Turtle Power, Part 2: 5 Ways to Slow Down and Be Happier

Last week we pointed out the 5 best reasons to aim for a slower pace of life. But slowing down is very easy to talk about. You may even be completely convinced of its benefits. But implementing it into your life is quite another thing.

This week, in part two of this post, we’ll get to some of the nuts and bolts of adopting a slower-paced lifestyle.

Take a day
First, you need to recognize the value of your own time. It can help to regularly take a day which in your primary focus is not to work, worry, or play any kind of role–but simply to exist.

Set aside a day off each week. On this day, try to avoid work of any kind, travel, social media, or consumerism. We call it a day of rest, and the benefits are both long and short-term.

We try to follow our own advice in our business practice, closing up shop every Sunday to ensure our employees have the opportunity to renew themselves and the important connections in their lives. We want the same for our clients, and hope that being closed one day a week will make it just a little easier to do the same.

Take some advice from Faith Hill: Just breathe! (Now that song is in your head! You’re welcome!)
When you wake up in the morning, take a few moments to breathe in and out, slowly and deliberately. Ease into it. As you go, take deeper and deeper breaths. Push away your thoughts about what will be happening today and focus on the white noise of your own breath, the feeling of the light that is your breath entering you and renewing you.

If you have a spiritual or religious tradition, this is the perfect thing to pair with whatever prayer or meditation ritual you may like to incorporate into your routine. In this way, you connect both with your own life, and with its source.

Relax!
Relaxation is more just an activity to incorporate into your routine, (though it definitely should be that as well).

Most people don’t realize that relaxation is a principle of work. The ability to relax is essential for any kind of worthy activity.

Senior woman focused with eyes closed while playing music outdoo
Relaxation is a principle of work. It takes effort to get started, but mastery comes after you stop straining, and start flowing.

Of course, you have to get your game face on and take on whatever task lies ahead. That’s the work part. But once you have your momentum going, there comes a point when you can stop trying so hard and let yourself get into a flow. You can’t get into that flow if you’re rushed.

Ever wonder why you can get through a whole day at work and feel like so little got done? Constant interruptions like meetings, phone calls, birthday cake in the break room–these all stop your flow and make it necessary to start and re-start your work throughout the day.

The late Ray Bradbury put it well when he said “Life is meant to be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at other times move forward with it.” It’s in this state that truly great work, even art, can begin to flourish.

Recognize that civilization is overrated
We’ve inherited a lot from our parents and our ancestors, good and bad. It can help to notice what came from those who have gone before, and how they’ve influenced us without realizing it. The American propensity for overwork goes way back to the Roman empire, and probably even further.

But does that go-go mindset really make sense for you, now? By that logic, pushing your car’s engine to the red line at all times should make it run better, right? Wrong! That’s a good way to prematurely end the engine. So it goes with your life.

Yes, work. But over-work could be shortening your life and siphoning your joy. It may be time to question things it’s never occured to you to question before.

So many other factors come crowding in for the present, as well: the expectations of others, the expectations others put on us.

  • Do you really have to do this or that?
  • Is this or that commitment really important to you?

The first step in taking control of your own time is to recognize that it’s yours. Take it!

Realize that Mom was right …
Chew your food! This may seem like a little thing, but in this fast-food world, this little thing can make a big difference in your life. The speed at which you eat impacts how much you eat in any given sitting and how much you enjoy your meals.

Sunrise
In Tuscany, meals are meant to be cooked and enjoyed in the best way possible: slowly. Isn’t there something to be learned there?

And given that the number of meals you’ll eat in your life are numbered, isn’t it worth making sure each one of them counts?

On a related note, if you feel like fast food is threatening to dominate your diet, try our next suggestion.

Become your own personal assistant
This can apply to planning your meals or just your life in general. While we generally associate planning our lives with a fast-paced life-style, the opposite can be true if you know how to handle it. Planning your life gives you the chance to build lots of gaps between tasks and breaks where you can work them in. Many people find that for things like massage, exercise, focused relaxation, and other forms of self-care, planning is the only way to go.

Imagine how you would feel if, yes, you had your day mapped out for you, and that you had plenty of time for every task?

You may not be able to afford a personal assistant, but a little extra time spent planning your week, say, on Sunday nights in front of Netflix, could help you hit the breaks and slow down.

Be well.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can find him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet.

Advertisements

What’s a DOR? This Simple Change Can Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity

It’s ancient–3,000 years old, perhaps more. It’s been debated by the sages and philosophers through the ages. It’s even been the subject of recent best-selling books.

It has the power to make you happier, reduce your stress, and make you more productive every single day.

DOR
Day of Rest, or DOR, comes from religious traditions, but you can enjoy the benefits regardless of your personal beliefs. DOR involves choosing one day of the week to set your daily work and routine tasks aside. You may choose to avoid shopping, your smartphone, and media noise. You can replace these things with spending time with loved ones and reflecting on personal goals. A day of rest can become the keystone of your self care.

DOR is known in Judeo-Christian circles variously as the sabbath, shabbat, or the Lord’s Day. From those traditions, DOR made the jump to the culture at large. In the United States, this idea has a long, though forgotten, history. The sabbath used to be a public institution in most US cities. As late as 1918 stores, factories, and other places of business were routinely closed on Sundays in most US towns and cities. Many places even had laws against activities deemed to be violations of sabbath observance.

Although many people of faith still observe a weekly day of rest, few Christians or Jews take it seriously anymore. To the non-religious or unaffiliated, the idea may be a completely foreign concept. And aside from the custom of the weekend, nothing in the culture today resembles the old DOR customs.

Why DOR is due for a comeback
We’re all busy. In fact, many of us wear our stress like a badge of honor. We all like to feel important, and many of us feel like a booked schedule is proof of that. That “always booked” feeling comes with a cost, though.

Long term stress has been shown to increase risk for some of the most deadly diseases of our time. These including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. That’s not to mention the mental health impact, which can include depression and suicidal thoughts.

You may feel like you can’t slow down, that you have no choice but to be constantly going.

But think again. Whatever pressure you find yourself under, you’re in control of your own decisions. Few of us are so important that it’s impossible to change the way we use our time.

In any case, you can’t take care of anyone unless you take care of you first.

This simple life hack can

  • improve your mental and physical health
  • add to your productivity throughout the week
  • add years to your life
  • help you enjoy whatever precious time on earth you have left

Is it worth it?
Imagine waking up on a day when your email doesn’t matter. Imagine your mind being occupied, not by your frantic schedule or the latest horrors on the news, but on taking care of yourself and those closest to you. Imagine a day free of traffic jams, crowds, or the rush to produce/consume more and more and more.

How to get started
Choose a day with you and your loved ones as a day of rest. Invite others to take part, but don’t force it. You can, though, set boundaries with your friends and family and ask that they respect them. The more support you have, the more likely it is you’ll stick with your new habit.

Weekends work best for most people since those are¬†usually days off work. The day of the week you choose makes little difference, but pick a day where you won’t be going to work . It should also be a day when you can cut loose many of your routine responsibilities with minimal impact on others.

What do I do?
What you do will vary with each person. Focus on self care. Choose activities that will help you reconnect with yourself and others on a personal level.

  • Relax!
  • Read.
  • Do some public service or volunteer work.
  • Visit with friends and family. Is there an elderly or shut-in family member that could use a visit? This would be a great day to stop by and put a smile on their face.
  • Attend worship services.
  • When was the last time you went for a long walk?
  • Is there a hobby you’ve been neglecting?
  • When was the last time you focused your attention and listened closely to music you love?
  • Nap!
  • The list could go on and on.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do?
You’re an adult! Nobody will ground you if you break your own rules. But setting boundaries for yourself and keeping them improves your connection with yourself. It helps you feel like a person of integrity.

Some suggested things you may want to avoid can include

  • shopping
  • the news
  • social media
  • television
  • your job
  • medical or dental appointments
  • going to movies, concerts, or sporting events
  • outdoor sports

Rewards!
That little measure of self-discipline and self care can go a long way. What happens the day after your DOR?

Productivity
You’ll return to work with your mind and body refreshed and ready to handle whatever the day has in store. Having taken some time to think about what’s really important to you, you’ll be able to spend your time on the most important tasks rather than just spinning your wheels with busy work.

Connection
You’ll feel more human! With your over all stress lowered, you’ll find your ability to be patient and compassionate, both with yourself and others, considerably increased.

Health
You’ll have lower risk factors for deadly diseases.A day of rest can be a part of the rhythm of your life–a life extended and improved.

Doing our part
At The Good Life Massage, we are doing what we can to re-introduce a culture that embraces a day of rest and self care. From the beginning, we have only been open six days a week. We give our employees and our clients Sundays off. We encourage everyone to take one day a week to stop and reconnect. We know we’re giving up valuable business in doing this, but to us, self care is worth it. There are more important things than producing and consuming.

A day of rest is a chance to remember who you are: not a producer, not a consumer, not a follower, not a viewer, not a Facebook friend, not a cog in someone’s machine, but a whole and valuable human being.

Give it a try! And enjoy.

Share your experiences and challenges in the comments below.
Tom Gunn is the Marketing Director and official blog editor at The Good Life Massage. You can find him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet or on his website tgunnwriter.com