Do you get up in the morning already feeling behind? In a rush? Forgetful? Stressed?
It may seem like the solution is to go faster, multitask more, get more “efficient.” The truth is, what you need to do is slow down. Slow down to calm down. Simple, but not easy.
But I don’t have time to slow down!
Yes, you do. First, put down your phone. Stop checking it at red lights and in line at the grocery. When you get the urge to grab it, or find that it has simply appeared in your hand, put it down, take a breath and focus on what you’re feeling inside.
Anxious? Bored? Tired? Find out what happens if you just breathe into those feelings. If you’re bored or tired, look around. Really look, really listen, really feel your feet on the ground. If you’re anxious, again, look around and try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Notice 5 things with your eyes, 4 things with your ears, 3 things in your body, 2 things with your nose and 1 thing you can taste (coffee breath, anyone?).
Getting there faster is an illusion
Do one thing at a time. Walk more slowly. Take a breath before speaking. Stop rushing through your life. The two minutes you save aren’t going to make a difference to anyone waiting at the other end of your rushing.
Many years ago I was a person who Scheduled Things Exactly. I had it down to a science. I knew precisely how long I could snooze before I had to get up, hit the shower and do all the things to get ready. I knew exactly how many minutes my drive to work would take, door to door. I had no margins, and I felt like I was In Control — unless, of course, there was extra traffic, or I spilled my coffee, or other humans got in my way.
Meanwhile, my husband would get up and piddle around, drink his coffee, read the news, whatever. He’d be dressed and ready 20 minutes early, sitting on the couch chilling out like he had nowhere to be and it didn’t matter if his pants wrinkled.
One day he looked at me rushing from room to room and said, “why do you do this to yourself?” I argued that I was a Swiss watch, baby, with precise gears. He pointed out that I was frazzled and not really present. Eventually I saw that he was right. I was in love with the idea of being in control, but I really was teetering on the edge of anxiety all the time.
Step back from the cliff
So let’s try one or two steps back.
Get up 10 minutes earlier. Pause to breathe as you are about to yell at your kids to hurry up or honk at a slow driver who’s “in your way.” Literally slow down as you walk to your car.
Water the seeds of patience and love rather than of impatience and anger. See what happens.
“To lose patience is to lose the battle.” Mahatma Gandhi