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When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit last year, and the first lockdowns began, there was a certain sense that we were being forced to slow down. The circumstances certainly weren’t ideal, but the end result – or so it seemed – was that by staying home and eliminating commutes, travel, business meetings and a lot of the day-to-day hustle, we would begin to fall into a slower pace.Boy, were we wrong.The always-on, constantly connected world we live in made sure we could still attend virtual meetings, virtual schools and even virtual parties and cocktail hours. We immersed ourselves even more in social media as it became our main form of social interaction with friends and family. Obligations became even harder to avoid because everyone knew you were home. Quarantine and lockdowns actually became eye-opening events for many people, shedding light on just how overwhelming our lives have become in the technology-driven 21st century and just how badly we need to give ourselves a break.Unfortunately, it takes a life-changing event for many of us to see that we need to slow down or take a break. For me, it actually happened several years ago. At the time, I was living what I imagined to be my dream life. I had a high-powered career that paid well enough for me to take extravagant holidays and buy a fabulous wardrobe – complete with my dream shoe collection. I also had a husband and children and a great house. On paper, I was living the Australian Dream. In reality, I had a lot of stress and a lot of regrets. My job was demanding but unfulfilling, and although it paid well, all those lovely things I shopped for still resulted in debt. I didn’t have time to take holidays, and I was disconnected from my husband and children. I needed to slow down, but it took getting sick to force me actually to do it. At that point, I realised that this fast-paced life was not only not fulfilling me, but it was harming both my family and me. I began doing some serious soul-searching to discover what it was I did want. What did my dream life look like?It likely won’t surprise you to learn that it looked much simpler and slower than the life I was living. When I began to remove the things that were making me unhappy, things just naturally slowed down. When my husband and I sat down to decide what we wanted in our life, what our values were, and how we could align the two, we discovered a lot of excess.One of the most important lessons I learned in doing this was the ability to say “no.” Part of what keeps us feeling so overwhelmed in our daily lives is the idea that we need to accept every invitation or involve our children in every activity. Even when those events were virtual, they added an unnecessary sense of stress and obligation – of needing to be somewhere and to put on our “social” face. Rather than feeling the need to take part in everything, learn to embrace the joy of missing out (JOMO). Say yes only to the things you really want to be part of and spend the time you gain by saying no doing things you enjoy.Another lesson I learned was that I didn’t need to always be tethered to my phone. The need to be constantly connected is a huge cause of stress, so make a conscious effort to put the phones and tablets away for a set amount of time every day. I suggest setting aside an hour in which you don’t answer texts or phone calls or check social media. Enjoy the person or people right in front of you instead. Another idea I’ve come to embrace is leaving the phone out of the bedroom entirely. Especially in crazy times like these when there is so much news rolling in, lying in bed “doom scrolling” will only add to your stress levels. One last lesson I’ve learned is the importance of making time for yourself. Yes, Part of taking things slow is spending more time with the family, enjoying time with the kids, and having time alone with your partner. But some “me” time is equally important. Do something for you every day: read a book, take a yoga class, do some writing. You’ll find the overall relaxation effect carries with you throughout the day.In today’s supercharged world, we all need to take a little break. Spend some time thinking about where you can slow things down in your life, make the change, and go with the slow.Reconnect with what is genuinely important to you, understand your own self and your needs on a deeper level with Marnie Prowse, the founder of the lifestyle brand “Tiny Haus Lifestyle”, and Renée Lynch, Naturopath and Holistic Nutritionist, in their immersive self-reflection workshop at The Conscious Space event. Click here for more details.
Written by Marnie Prowse
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