I Struggle with Taking Things Slow



If there's anything I'm learning these past few days, it's all about taking a breath and stopping for a while. Letting yourself calm down. Learning to relax. Rest.
Even as I say it, my mind is racing with the things I‌ need to do. Deadlines that I have (self-imposed or actual). Endless to-do lists where more items are added than there are removed. “There’s that post I‌ need to write.” “I have something to research after this.” “I‌ need to hit x number of hours (or lessons) on my language studies this week.”

I‌ worked in a fast-paced company for almost eight years. We were always encouraged to be on our toes. “Rests” were purposeful bouts of non-work that was meant to prepare us for the moment when work would resume. So we could pick up where we left off without any slack. So we could “hit the ground running” and take on whatever challenge hurled at us.

My aunt calls me “Miss Corporate” and says that I am very much like her. And it’s true. I love the buzz of a busy office just as something is about to happen or a project is about to reach completion. I work as an event organiser and if you know event organisers, we thrive in an environment where so many things are happening all at once. There’s so much energy that pumps in my veins when I‌ know that a big project or a big event is about to happen. Events are where organizers live on adrenaline. It’s where we feel most alive—when there’s pressure, when you’re faced with deadlines, when you have a nationwide event the next day and you’re cross-checking all the details to make sure that, as much as possible, everything will go just the way you want it to, and if not, you have contingency plans from A-Z. We live for the days when we have to run around to accomplish what needs to get done before the big day. Never mind food. Never mind bathroom breaks.

These days, I still feel a semblance of that in my blood. I like to get going.‌ I’ve done a couple of freelance events for the first quarter of the year and I felt the same each time the night before the event—that wakefulness, that sense of excitement—as well as the triumph that comes after when you’re so tired that you can barely move, barely eat, but you feel this sense of accomplishment once again.

It’s what I‌ struggle with now during the lockdown/quarantine/social distance. I’ve been so used to running at high speed that I often forget to relax, take a deep breath, and just enjoy the things around me. Enjoy quiet mornings and peaceful afternoons. Enjoy that I‌ don’t have jammed buses and trains to face. Enjoy that I can take my time in doing things.

Instead, I run over my to-do list and feel that sense of panic that I‌ have not yet accomplished every single thing that I need to do. I think of all the dreams and plans I‌ have for the future and realise with growing horror that I‌ am nowhere near what I really want to do, nowhere near what I’ve dreamed of. And that pushes me to work harder which in turn causes me to put pressure on myself, gives me more stress, makes me worry and overthink more. It’s an endless, vicious cycle.

For some of us, a frenzied pace of doing things is what’s helping us cope with this worldwide quarantine. But no matter what you’re working on and what you’re racing to accomplish, there’s a difference when you put down what you’re doing, sit back, and rest for a while. It gives you a clearer mind and a different perspective and teaches you to be patient, to enjoy what’s around you.

So here I am, trying to take things slow. It’s not easy because it requires conscious thought and conscious effort. You’ve got to want to take things slow. You’ve got to want to relax. You’ve got to say to yourself, “Stop it. Take a break. Indulge yourself by reading a book. Rest. Take some time off. Go out and breathe the fresh air.”

I’m trying to do just that I’ve found that some things are helpful when you’re trying to take things slow.

Listen to something that calms you. Instrumental, calming music helps. Nothing so rock-ish (unless upbeat music calms you). Nothing with lyrics that makes you depressed. Or you can listen to the sound of rain falling on the ground. Or a favourite slow song that relaxes you. Or a podcast that makes you laugh.

Include rest in your daily schedule. I know this is probably very corporate of me, but let’s do this in baby steps. Give yourself a time in the day when you’ll say, “I’ll set aside my work and just rest.” It can be short periods when you take a break from work during the day, or it can working until a certain time and then devoting the rest of the day to do other things.

Read books. There’s nothing like reading a good, old novel (especially if it’s an actual book). Read a nice, heartwarming fiction or an inspirational, motivational one. They say that reading a book (especially at night) helps you sleep (let me know if you need recommendations!).

Do you struggle with taking things slow too?‌ What do you do when you’re wrapped up in work?‌ How do you rest?

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash.

3 comments

  1. This is my struggle. I'm constantly going during normal circumstances and now I'm super restless.

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  2. It's always a comfort to know we're not alone!

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  3. Excellent post! I've been reading a lot more books now that there isn't a whole more to do at the moment, and I'm loving shutting my mind off from everything else while I read.

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