Slow Ride

Slow isn’t an action word in my recent life. I always seem to do everything fast. Or I should say I try to rush through everything I'm trying to get done so I can get the next thing done. Whether it's my to do list at work, or making dinner or going for a walk, I just can't help but to rush through it.

Seriously what am I going to do next? Rush through the next item. Do you know what if feels like to rush through things? It feels stressful. When I rush, I feel crunched for time. I feel pressure to get it done faster. My chest and shoulders tighten. My mind whirls. Most of the time, this is all stress I put on myself.

In analyzing how to reduce stress in my life, I made a really cool mind map. As I was creating it, I realized I need to try and slow down in a few areas of my life. Well, maybe a lot of areas of my life lol!

This week I am working on slowing down. It’s hard, darn hard. If I don’t make a conscious effort, I’m back to rushing through things.

My stress is linked to my to do list and trying to get things done. I have found that the more things on the list, the more things I think I have to do, the faster I have to do them, and the more stress I feel. While I can't always change the items on my list, when I go slow, I feel less rushed, which reduces my stress level. 

The slow ride idea, yes Foghat song and all, came to me last weekend while on a bike ride. I was getting close to home and I’m thinking darn, I wish this bike ride wouldn't end. And then I realized well then why am I going so fast on the bike ride? It's only a half hour bike ride. I'm not burning any calories and that really isn't my goal anyway, my goal is to be outside moving and exercising.

So I slowed down. Amazing, how that simple thing (not easy mind you) helped calm me and reduce some stress. Slowing down also helped me enjoy my bike ride even more as I started looking around and paying attention to the scenery rather than my mind’s need to finish.

Today I slowed down my ride and found more trillium plants than I did on my ride last week. At first I only saw a few, and was wondering why there weren’t as many as last year. They were there, I didn’t notice them because I was rushing. Something I have really enjoyed about our recent adventure in hiking is that I have to go slow otherwise I could trip and get hurt. 

Going slow is not easy when you aren’t used to it. Today was a beautiful day and instead of walking through the hallway at work to get from the back of the building to the front, I went outside and walked around the building. Three quarters of the way around, I realized I was race walking. Whoa! Slow it down girl. And I did.

Because I have to really force myself to go slow, I am engaging my brain in thinking about how am I going to go slow. When your brain is engaged in a task you are not used to doing, it stops thinking of other things, like what you have to get done, or how you need to hurry and finish.

This is like the anxiety strategy where the minute you start feeling anxious, you do something totally out of routine. Your brain has to think about how you are going to accomplish that out-of-routine task and then you stop thinking about whatever was making you anxious.

Previously, I've written about living in the slow lane and how we all get to our destination one way or the other, but the people who are going slow are trying to enjoy the journey instead of just trying to check it off their to do list. 

Yes, I need to enjoy the journey, but I also need to learn not to rush through things as it is important in my goal to reduce stress. So I'm working on taking that slow ride …….