According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 25% of Americans feel rushed all the time, and 50% do some of the time. What category do you fall in?
The times when we need to rush are actually a lot less frequent than we think. Rushing has simply become a habit for many of us, and many people even derive a (somewhat warped, in my opinion) sense of accomplishment from being able to say “I’m just so busy all the time!” When you are always rushing, your body is in a constant state of panic, which, in turn, has a detrimental effect on your mental, physical and spiritual health.
So how do you slow down, stop rushing, and start enjoying life? It all begins with noticing where you are. In Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less, Marc Lesser writes: “We must be completely present for what we are doing, without sacrificing or rushing what’s in front of us in order to get to ‘more important’ stuff later. No matter how mundane the activity, treat
everything as important and take pleasure in it. At bottom, whatever we are doing right now is what we are engaged in and it deserves our full attention and appreciation.”
The following tips can help you stop rushing. If you only have time for one (because you’re too rushed), remember to BREATHE. Taking a deep breath can be the difference between rushing on, and taking a moment to get out of your head and into your body.
- Stop multi-tasking. Studies have proven that multi-tasking is actually less efficient because your mind takes time to switch gears in between tasks.
- Close your eyes. By withdrawing your attention from the visual world, you can center yourself and ground your scattered energy.
- Walk away. Taking a brief walk, even just in your backyard or arund the block, can calm your agitated mind.
- Stop listening to others. We’re faced with constant input from other people, the news, the internet. Turn off all the external chatter for periods of time.
- Focus on one thing for 30 seconds. A rushed mind cannot focus, not even for 30 seconds. By focusing on one thing for a 30 second mini-meditation, you train your “slowing down” muscle.
- Avoid caffeine. Even just switching one caffeinated drink a day for a glass of water, herbal tea, or juice can make a difference.
- Pet your cat! Research has shown that petting a cat or dog lowers blood pressure, and it will calm your mind as well.
Cats don’t rush. In the wild, they run to chase their prey, at your house, they run to chase each other or their toys. But you’ll never find a cat rushing and thinking about what she needs to accomplish after she’s finished chasing her toy.
Cats are masters at living in the moment. We’d do well to take our cues from them.