Family & Education

4 Tips to Slow Down When You Feel Overwhelmed

BY Barbara Danza TIMEJanuary 19, 2022 PRINT

There are times in life when hurrying is the way to go. If your child yells for help, your house is on fire, you’re in a race, or if your plane leaves in seven minutes and you just arrived at check-in—you should definitely pick up the pace. 

What happens, though, when life gets so overwhelming that you’re hurrying everywhere, all of the time? When you feel like you can hardly squeeze in the errands, the responsibilities, the requests, and the to-dos within the finite hours of the day, you rush your way through.

You zoom down aisle nine at the grocery store, sprint clean your kitchen, and type out emails so fast your wpm doubles. You toss a quick lunch at your kids, take sips of coffee each time you whiz by your cup, and speak fast in conversation. You hurry here and hurry there. By night, you hurry to wrap everything up so that you can quickly get off to bed. Got to get some rest so you can wake up and hurry through tomorrow.

If you spend your days this way more often than not, might you find yourself hurrying merely out of habit?

The Costs of Hurrying

We all value our time and want to make the most of it, however, hurrying through every moment of life does quite the opposite. When you hurry, your focus is often a selfish one. You’re wanting to get things over with and you sacrifice care, attention, and quality for expedience. You’re certainly increasing the risk of error and a shoddy outcome. If other people are involved, as they often are, you might come across as callous and careless. 

You’re probably not enjoying always being in such a hurry either. Speeding from moment to moment leaves little room for spontaneity, connection, joy, peace, or fun. The value of your life is not equivalent to the number of tasks you completed by the end of it.

If at the end of each day you struggle to recall the day’s highlights or even the basic things you did that day, you may find value in trading your strategy of hurrying to an approach of slowing down.

Here are a few ideas to break the habit of hurrying and slowing things down a bit.

Review Your Calendar

Open your calendar and take note of your gut reaction to what’s on there. If your stomach turns to knots or you feel a sense of dread, it’s time to make some adjustments. Renegotiate commitments, politely cancel plans, and leave only the most essential or meaningful items on your calendar. 

Cut Your List

Next, consider the tasks you attempt to accomplish each day. If you’re like most people, you’ve got way too many on there. Each day choose the one most important task to accomplish, and allow your list for the day to only include three tasks. When those are done each day, you’re free!

Identify Your Priorities

Now that you’ve calmed the chaos a bit, take a step back and think through your life’s priorities. What’s most important to you? What aspects of your family, relationships, career, home, and spiritual journey do you want to devote time and attention to? These are the things that your calendar and to-do list should support and reflect. 

Practice Mindfulness

Finally, as you go about each day, simply attempt to slow down and notice more clearly what’s before you. If you’re washing dishes, focus on washing dishes. Appreciate the hot, running water you’re blessed to have access to and the lovely smells and suds of the soap that allows you to keep your dishes clean for yourself and your family. Stack them upon the drainboard neatly, and then take the time to carefully dry them and put them in their places. Appreciate the meal that you’re cleaning up after and the dishes you’re blessed to eat off of. The simple, monotonous act of washing the dishes can be a heart-warming practice of gratitude. 

Imagine how many other tasks you could approach with this mindset and how much different life would manifest and the impact your calmer presence would have on your environment and the people in it.

Life is not some destination you hurry to arrive at. It’s this moment. And that. It’s right now. Slow down so you don’t miss it.

Barbara Danza
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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