The benefits of slowing down
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life? That sometimes you don’t get time to think, let alone time for yourself?
If this sounds like you then perhaps it’s time to introduce a ‘slow day’ to your week.
I used to feel as though I should be making the most of every minute of my weekend. But I realised a long time ago that slowing down – at least once a week – helps me to feel happier, fulfilled and more in control of the week ahead.
I know that some people feel guilty about this kind of thing, so think of this post as giving you permission to slow down once a week! I think you will feel much better for it.
Here are a few simple steps you can follow to help you relax, restore and get ready for the week ahead.
Why it’s a good idea to slow down
It’s good to get into a rhythm.
The human body follows biological rhythms such as the 24 hour circardian rhythm.
Nature follows rhythms too, for example the cycle of the moon and the seasons.
Having one day every week where you can take things a bit slower will give you the chance to nurture yourself and take time to restore.
It will naturally help you be more ‘in the moment’ which is a very good place to be if you’re looking for fulfilment and a sense of wellbeing.
In addition, it gives you time to prepare yourself for the week ahead so you are in control, rather than it just happening in a blur.
Choose the best day to slow down for you
Whatever day falls before work/school/ life gets started again works best.
My day to slow things down is Sunday.
This works for me as we are at work and school Monday to Friday.
This means that Sunday is the perfect day to slow down, relax and get ready for the week ahead.
Whatever day makes sense for your life is fine.
What will your slow day look like?
I suggest incorporating some of the following things as they all play a part in helping you to be happy and fulfilled as an individual, improve your health and keep you feeling balanced and in control. They may well overlap.
- getting outside
- time for yourself
- cooking from scratch
- planning for the week ahead
- catch up time
The main thing to remember is to avoid making extra plans on this day as much as you can.
It’s a good opportunity to remember that saying ‘no’ can be a positive thing.
If you feel any guilt over carving out a little bit of ‘me-time’ then it’s worth remembering that managing your stress is one of the most important things you can do to stay happy and healthy.
If you are happy and healthy you will be better at all the roles you have in your life.
I have two dogs, so I have to get outside with them every day. During the week it’s usually just me in the Country Park close to where we live.
On a Sunday my husband usually walks with me. Occasionally my children come along too!
We try and take the dogs somewhere different for their walk – they enjoy the change and so do we. There are so many beautiful places around Colchester it’s a good opportunity to explore.
I like that getting outside with the dogs means I’m getting exercise as well as my daily dose of nature.
If you need persuading, you may be interested to know that there are many scientific studies that prove the physical and mental health benefits of getting outside in nature. Here is one example.
If going for a walk isn’t for you then you might find some inspiration from this collection of ideas from the mental health charity Mind.
However you choose to do it, it’s a great way to take in what’s around you and distance yourself from any distractions for a while.
I am actually a great believer in starting every day outside, even just for a few minutes, but I think having one day a week where you take a bit more time outside is a great habit to get into. [See my related post on morning mindfulness here.]
Time for yourself
Carving out a bit of time for yourself can really help you to feel good about yourself and recognise that you deserve a bit of ‘me-time’.
This in turn helps keep stress levels down which is crucial if you want to keep in good health.
You could spend some time on a hobby, have an uninterrupted hour of reading, a soak in the bath or listen to some music or a podcast. Or anything at all that you can do to relax and enjoy on your own!
If you’re part of a family with children, perhaps both parents can take a little bit of time for themselves at different times? Even half an hour every week can make a difference.
It’s great to also find something that the whole family can relax and do together. For example a family film on the sofa, building Lego or playing a game together, having a walk together or baking together. Perhaps you could have a family brain-storming session together to come up with some ideas?
But don’t forget that even just half an hour for yourself is really important too.
Cooking from scratch is good on so many levels.
It’s better for your health as it’s real unprocessed food – even if it’s a cake or biscuits, if it’s baked from real ingredients it will be better than the processed equivalent from the shop.
If everyone in your household can get involved then it’s a great way of doing something together and getting something practical out of it at the end!
It can be a creative and fulfilling experience and is a great way of showing love for whoever you are cooking for. Especially if you are just cooking for yourself as it’s very easy to think it’s not worth putting in the effort when you’re just cooking for one.
In the winter months we often have a roast dinner on a Sunday. Sometimes we all have different responsibilities, sometimes I like to have a couple of hours to myself and prepare everything.
A slow cooking day can also be a good way to help prepare for the week ahead. You can prepare food for easier dinners or cook a one-pot meal that you can heat up later in the week.
Plan for the week ahead
I have used a bullet journal to keep track of my days and weeks for a few years now.
It is always my aim to plan out the week on a Sunday. I start with a page to list things that need to get done that week and then a separate page for each day. I include all my work consultations and tasks, any personal plans plus things I need to remember for the rest of the family and things like putting the bins out!
It only takes about half an hour to copy out things from my telephone calendar, but it makes such a difference to how well each day goes.
It also prompts you to work out any logistics such as meal times and lifts.
You might use a diary or a calendar on the wall, but however you do it, your week is likely to run much smoother if you take a little bit of time to think about it in advance!
You can then cross things off each day and add anything else that comes up as the week goes on.
Catch up time
Last on my list is catch up time. If you have a quiet day at the end of the week it means that there’s always time to catch up before the new week begins.
If there are children involved there might be homework or chores to do.
I always do my ironing on a Sunday and any last minute laundry. I take the opportunity for some quiet time to watch something on Netflix while I iron!
I’m pretty sure that all of us can benefit from some catch up time, even though it might look different for everyone.
Planning my week out and having the time to catch up are probably the two things that help me feel ready for the week ahead. Without them, the whole week is harder.
Happy, healthy and organised!
I hope some of these ideas will inspire you to slow down once a week so you can take stock, have time to think, time for yourself and start the week feeling organised and in control.