THE ART OF SLOWING DOWN
Slowing down – it's a paradoxical concept in an extrinsically-driven society, where happiness and success are defined by what we have. In order to meet the growing demands of our capitalistic culture, we increasingly work more, spend more, consume more... Unfortunately, this perpetual cycle of more, more, more has reached a tipping point. A tipping point not only for our personal health and well-being, but also for the health and well-being of the environment.
We've been taught that down time is a waste; that it's unproductive and inefficient. Why? Because it undermines the driving forces of a capitalist economy – faster, cheaper, more efficient. So what do we do? We choose to be busy... all of the time. In fact, we're addicted to it. We've become wired to believe that constant busyness makes us more productive, which will lead to success, and ultimately, happiness. But the reality is quite the opposite.
Similar to drugs or alcohol, the crazy-busy addiction has its fair share of negative side effects. One in particular is compulsive spending. To escape the stresses that arise from being too busy, we spend what little free time we do have compulsively spending money on things we don't necessarily need, but think will make us feel happier. Unfortunately, many of these compulsive purchases end up buried in the back of the closet or tucked away in the attic until they're eventually tossed into landfills, where they add to the pollution problem, and consequently, climate change.
Like many, I was once addicted to being crazy busy. I prided myself on being a "workaholic," always thinking about the next task on my to-do list. I was constantly on the go, and when I had down time, I often spent it at the mall, breaking my budget on cheaply made clothes and other frivolous things I didn't need... or even want once the shopper's high dissipated.
Here's the ironic part: Psychological studies have found that slowing down actually boosts productivity, creativity, and overall happiness. By taking time to slow down, we're able to regain our focus, discover what's really important, and establish attainable, intrinsically-driven goals that help us become truly happy and fulfilled with our lives.
As someone who works in a very fast-paced, highly creative industry, I've come to understand just how important – and necessary – slowing down is. Since slowing down and finding balance in my life, I've been able to break my bad shopping habit, take back control of my finances, and discover a more genuine feeling of happiness.
Slowing down is an art in itself; it doesn't just happen. The good news: you have the power to slow down. All you need is a little bit of focus and dedication to shift your habits. It's important to keep in mind that there's no "one-size-fits-all" formula for slowing down; it's different for everyone. What matters is how it makes you feel. Ready to slow down your life? Here are five simple ways to get started:
As technology continues to improve, we've increasingly become better at the art of multitasking. While this is a great skill for certain situations, it's tough to slow down when you're constantly juggling a million things. Instead, make a habit of doing less. Focus on what tasks are necessary each day, and which ones can be postponed, so you can make time to relax and move at a slower pace.
Let's face it... we're addicted to our devices, whether it's our phone, computer, television, you name it. In fact, the average American adult spends more than 74 hours a month on their smartphone alone. Set aside a certain amount of time each day (or week) to unplug, trading it out for quality time with loved ones, picking up a new hobby, personal reflection, the list goes on.
Fast fashion is exactly how it sounds – it's made fast, sold fast, and disposed of fast. Make a conscious effort to slow down your shopping habits, shifting your focus to supporting small businesses that make their products with ethics, or better yet, sustainability, in mind. These products tend to be more expensive than what you'll find at H&M or Target, which can also help curb compulsive purchases.
ESTABLISH A MORNING RITUAL
It's hard to stay focused when your day begins with a frantic rush out the door, only to dive straight into the daily grind of life. Establish a morning ritual that makes you feel calm and ready to take on whatever may come your way. It can be as simple as savoring that first cup of coffee, catching up on the news, practicing yoga, you name it.
Sometimes you just need a breath of fresh air... Seriously. As technology continues to improve, we increasingly shut ourselves inside, seeking entertainment through simulated environments. When the weather permits, go outside and enjoy all the beauty that nature has to offer. It's also a great way to reflect and clear your head after a long day.