“Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you’re doing.” – Sharon Salzberg, meditation teacher and author (born 1952)
Life is busy, there’s no getting around it. In recovery, there are added responsibilities and daily to-do lists that can tend to seem overwhelming. No wonder we become so distracted, frazzled, and feel as though we’re not getting anything done, or done well. What can we do to combat this ceaseless assault to our peace of mind and concentration?
One simple answer is to slow down. By making a concerted effort to take it slower in whatever activity we’re involved in we’ll be doing ourselves a favor. This seemingly small action will repay us with clearer focus and a greater ability to pay attention to the here and now.
Can it really be this easy?
Well, yes and no. Granted, it will probably take some doing, as in practicing slowing down on a daily basis. This won’t be easy for the A-types among us or those who feel compelled to tackle every item on their list no matter what the circumstances, how they’re feeling, whether or not agendas need to be revised, or even if it becomes apparent that some other issue/problem/activity should take precedence.
Some tips to help us slow down include:
- Take some deep breaths – especially when we find ourselves noticing anxiety, pressure to succeed, tension at what is still undone. Just the basic breathing in and out will help to calm us down and smooth out some of the unsettledness.
- Keep a journal, writing down the date, time and activity and noting when slowing down seemed to benefit us. This will remind us that slowing down really is helpful to restoring our attention and contributing to our overall sense of being present in the moment.
- When we find that slowing down works, make it part of our daily agenda. Every minute that we have sharper focus and crystal clear attention is a plus. It means that we’re better able to experience what is happening, to be able to identify and take advantage of opportunities, and to glean the lessons learned when some action we take doesn’t immediately result in the outcome we anticipated.
- Schedule regular breaks throughout the day. It’s important to take a breather, literally and figuratively. It’s not healthy to go flat-out all day long. Just a 5-10 minute respite can do wonders, so pencil it in.
- Pencil in some time to relax every day. Slowing down isn’t only about taking deep breaths and scheduling breaks throughout the day. It’s also about doing something just for fun, something that relaxes, entertains, and allows us to reconnect with that deeper part of our souls.
- Remember that tomorrow is another day. There’s always going to be time to get to what was left undone today. In fact, some things put off to another day will turn out better because we’ve taken the time to space out important items on our to-do list. Don’t be in such a hurry that we fail to absorb all we can from what we’re doing right now.