How to slow down and enjoy life more
Life is short and our time on this earth is so precious. It’s ironic that in this modern world, there are so many gadgets that have been invented to make things easier and quicker for us - yet we are just filling that extra time up with doing more and making our lives horribly busy. Are we actually enjoying the life that we are living and creating for ourselves? Or is that hard earned energy and time being wasted?
These are the questions Josh and I are constantly asking ourselves, to evaluate our lives to make sure we are living our best life. But we had to hit rock bottom before we realised the road we were walking. From the outside it would have looked like we were fine, cruisy, relaxed and happy with our lives - but we were so busy and were running ourselves into the ground. I was running my own graphic design/photography business, Josh was a primary teacher and working as a part-time disability carer. Plus we were both volunteering in a local surf club. We weren’t looking after ourselves. I was so excited about my business, that’s all I could think of and I didn’t want to stop working - there was always something to do, something to try to grow my business. Looking back now, this was where my sickness began - I had no energy, I couldn’t think of more than one thing at a time, my work was overwhelming me, I couldn’t help josh with anything he was doing with the house renovations and I had migraines constantly. To help myself I would take heavy medication and ate food for comfort.
And Josh - as a teacher, there are always things you can be doing as well - any spare minute he had, he was renovating our house that we had purchased. He was obsessed with weeding the garden, the grass, trying to make sure the house was perfect for our future family. His dad warned us that we were working too hard on the house, that we were putting too much of our lives into this thing which we can’t take away to Heaven. We would also say yes to every event, we couldn’t say no to people, (we are both very much people pleasing people) we also had great friends who we would always visit - but again, we didn’t have time to ourselves.
And then we had a really close call with a horrifying fire - our house almost burnt down, there were angels protecting our property as the fire breathed it’s fiery flames over our house without burning anything.
In a couple of hours, everything we worked so hard for could have been burnt to the ground.
This was a turning point. Another turning point came a year later when we both got debilitatingly sick (which we talk a little more about here). Sometimes you need more than one knock at the door to change your life. These things needed to happen to us, to make us who we are today. To make us re-evaluate what is important in life. We were forgetting to actually live, to slow down and enjoy the life we were working so hard to create. This was over five years ago now, and this is the best I’ve ever felt.
I want to share with you some tips which helped us and still help us to slow down, clear the clutter in our minds and enjoy life.
HOW TO SLOW DOWN and enjoy your life more
1. Do Less
Decide not to cram your day with a million things to do. Remember the things that really matter - relationships, family, connecting. Do less in a day, give yourself some empty spaces between your tasks. You’ll be able to enjoy what you’re doing more and be able to breathe easier.
Go away on trips often. They don’t have to be overseas holidays, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to go somewhere. Go away for one night, for the weekend, for the long weekend - go camping, sleep in your van (our favourite!) or book an Airbnb or just set a goal to do plenty of day trips.
Travelling is an amazing way to unplug, to slow down, remember what’s really important, to refocus and re-energise your mind. Take time to enjoy the simple things, don’t plan anything, go with the flow and spend your time outdoors, enjoying and exploring nature.
3. Simplify. Declutter. Organise.
How does this help you slow down? Having a cluttered house is like having cluttered mind. Forget about keeping up with the Jones’s, less is more, take time to declutter and simplify your life with things that are meaningful to you, that make you feel happy.
4. Be present
It’s hard to slow down and enjoy life if you’re focusing on your endless to-do lists, stressing about the future or worrying about the past. Be mindful about what is happening right now - be in the present moment. Focus on the people around you, connect with them, focus on your actions, on what is happening in the environment, the sounds and the smells and appreciate the moment you are in. Being mindful is something which doesn’t come easy, but will come easier the more your intentionally practice it.
Mindful meditation is something that is worth practising which will help you be more mindful in your every day life. We’ve got some great mindful meditation tips for you - they have been given to us by our good friend and Psychologist, Lize Andrews. Download our ten tips to mindful meditation at the bottom of the page.
When things are overwhelming or your heart is racing, stop and take a few deep breaths. Do it again. Really let the breath slowly come in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Dr Weil explains a few easy breathing exercises you can do - one is called a Relaxing Breath Exercise (the 4-7-8 exercise). Such a simple tool to eliminate stress and calm your nervous system down.
- Exhale all your breath through your mouth.
- Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Exhale all your breath through your mouth for eight seconds.
- Repeat four more times.
6. Practice self care
Look after yourself. Eat well. Get enough sleep. Exercise regularly. These aren’t new things, but they are essential in living a happy life. You need to slow down and take the time to do these things, the pay off is exponential. I'll be doing a seven day self care challenge soon, so keep an eye out if you want to be involved (or sign up to our newsletter if you don't want to miss it).
7. Learn to say no
You don’t need to please everybody when you’re wearing yourself thin. Your heart might be in the right place by wanting to say yes, but pause and evaluate the state of your mind, of your life. And then give your answer. Learning to say no has made such a profound difference to our life, and you know what? People don’t mind when you say no as much as you think they do. The main thing is to look after yourself and your family.
8. Do things you enjoy
Do things that spark your creativity, that energise your spirit, that relax your body, that fuel your brain. This could come under the self-care heading, but I thought it needed a bold heading of it’s own. It’s so easy to put our own passions aside, because life is busy, but it’s important to not forget about these things. Slow down, don’t lose yourself in the busyness of life.
9. Spend time in nature
Often we get too busy to really appreciate nature. Slow down and get outside - breathe in the beautiful fresh air, have a swim and experience the warm or cold water against your skin, listen to the waves crashing on the shore, feel the calm air or the wind blowing, listen to the birds singing to you, take a walk on the beach and feel the sand in between your toes. Get grounded - take your shoes off and plant your feet on soil, grass, sand, on nature. Try to do this daily.
Do you ever have time when there’s not a device either blasting at you or within arms reach? Having your computer, your phone or your tv close to you means that you can always be interrupted, it means it can bring you out of the present moment and cause you stress, worry or sadness during a beautiful moment of calm.
Take time to disconnect to stop the flow of constant information coming at you. Give your mind freedom, space and let it run wild. Allow time to listen to your own thoughts, rather than being bombarded by other people’s all the time. Try it tonight and let me know how you go! :)