11 Tips for Slowing Down

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Going on vacation can be an automatic slow down. And even though a lot of us are about to take some time off, this week can be hectic with last minute details to take care of. We've been busy finishing up our gifts, baking, packing and getting a handle on work stuff so we can get out of town. We don't want to be burnt out come next week so we plan to implement some of our own advice and slow down .[Image from Jeana Sohn Flickr]

We wrote these tips earlier in the summer, but a lot of them apply right now. What else do you do to keep your sanity leading up to the holidays?

• Try doing just one thing at a time. Instead of cleaning while on the phone, just pick one and do it for 15 minutes. Set the timer if you need to get some help focusing.

Cook. This might seem like adding more to your list, but there's a whole slow food movement that encourages taking the time to make a meal and actually sit and enjoy it (not in front of the TV, but with friends!). The Kitchn has some great inspiration and recipes to get you started.

• Start and End your day with a couple minutes of breathing. Focus on breathing in and out and not on whatever your mind might be telling you. You could call this meditation. And you could do it more often if you like it.

• This goes along with doing one thing at a time and is the hardest thing for us: don't open tabs in your browser. Only read one website at a time and don't open 16 more in tabs to read later. Just one at a time (and don't spend all night doing it either!).

• Take a bath.

• Get enough sleep. Try going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier than you normally do for a week and see what that does for you.

• Make the time to call someone you love but don't get to talk to nearly enough. Maybe they live far away or your schedules don't always match, but plan to clear time in your day to just focus on talking and catching up with that person.

• Notice when you're busy. As Tim Ferris suggests, ask yourself if "you're inventing things to do to avoid the important?". That normally helps give us some perspective.

• Go for a walk (and leave the cell phone at home).

• We haven't tried this yet, but we plant to try only checking email at a couple of scheduled times in the day instead of a bajillion times all day long. We're thinking: first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, mid afternoon and in the evening. Even just saying that gives us chills: what if we miss something?

• Don't just do something, sit there. Harder than it sounds. Resist the urge to just keep busy and just sit wherever you are. You can sit until the urge passes, or just for 30 seconds as you notice the how much you want to keep buzzing around getting things done. After all when we go on vacation we have permission to just sit around, that's the beauty of a vacation. Giving yourself permission to do that in regular life can help you to really relax daily. Then you're better refreshed to get the important stuff done.

What else can you do to help slow down?

(Edited from a post originally published 8.18.08)

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