SLOW down, Mama!
Are you always rushing from pillar to post? Is your schedule packed? Are you working full time and then desperately squeezing all the fun, family time and social stuff in at the weekend, meaning that you’re hitting burn out, literally burning the candle at both ends?
Well, you're not alone. This is the story for most of us. Living an urban life, running a busy household, bringing up children, following through on commitments to friends, family, the PTA- or any number of other organisations that might claim a bit of you. And on top of all that, we are also holding down (and perhaps building up) our careers!
Someone recently said to me, when did feminism change from “You can do anything!”, to “You do everything!”. Of course there should be equal pay and equal opportunities between the sexes, but actually this goes beyond a feminist issue; it's a humanitarian issue for all of us- men, women and children.
Our lives are so busy. When asked 'How are you?', how often is your standard stock reply, 'I'm just so busy!'? We all do it- making the statement to reinforce the behaviour, to justify the rushing around.
But we miss so much when we operate at hundred miles per hour, when we don’t take a moment to pause. By 'pause', I don’t mean that lovely weekend spa break that's in the diary for 3 months time; the break you are hanging on in for, and yet when it eventually comes around your exhausted self is running on pure adrenaline and cortisol so that as soon as you relax your body's instincts kick in and your immune system takes charge. And bang, you get the flu!
No, what I mean is, are you pressing pause and finding moments, EVERYDAY. Can you slow down enough to make space to think, to breathe, to notice what's around you, to notice how you feel. To just be?
The rush of our modern times, the constant in-your-face advertising and consumerism is all a false promise. We have wardrobes full of clothes and yet nothing to wear. We think when we get that next house, or gadget, or car, or gym membership that will solve everything, And yet when we have it, we find we are still lacking, still unsatisfied.
So think about this. How about focussing on quality over quantity. How might it look to reschedule your week ahead and chop out anything that your gut tells you is too much, or you don’t want to do. Listen to your gut. That funny feeling point above your tummy and just below your breast bone is the meeting point of your nervous system and your solar plexus; basically without going into too much science, it's your warning bell. Listen to it!! Respect it. You’ll find the more you do that, the less you will follow your mind's lead, being dictated to by thoughts of 'you should do this', or 'you shouldn’t do that'. Time to let that go and realise you are not just the machinations of your mind!
In yoga philosophy we refer to the mind as the 'Monkey God' - jumping around from here to there, not present, not knowing anything, really. It can all be super distracting. But when you slow down, take a deep a breath and press pause, in any moment, you can connect back to your gut, or your heart, and hear your own deep wisdom speak and guide you.
Then you start to notice things, and wonderful things begin to happen
You’ll notice the sun shining on you, or the breeze on your skin and instantly feel more connected to nature. When we feel that beauty around us we are more likely to respect out environment and make better, more eco and ethical choices. We’ve all had that feeling of being ‘filled up’ by a walk in the countryside; the fresh air, the smells, the colours, actually walking on the ground, on the earth, instead of within the concrete jungle. It reconnects us back to nature.
You’ll then notice an abundance of other things you would have missed in your rush. That offer to help you with a project, which you might have read as a threat to your business in the past. A smile and some eye contact from a passer-by, or a hug for just a little longer than usual from a friend or loved one, will fill your heart. You’ll have a greater capacity for connection and love for others. Everyone benefits when we slow down.
The buzz word of the day is Mindful. But really you cannot be mindful if you are rushing around. So it has so start with SLOWING DOWN.
An ideal time to take heed of that advice and listen to your body is, of course, pregnancy. This, more than ever, is the time to feel your heaviness and connect with the ground under your feet, and SLOW DOWN. And even in daily life with little ones in tow, when things can naturally get a little more chaotic, by consciously keeping that pace slower, by echoing the rhythm of floating water, children slow down to match your pace. You engage more with each other. Your connections deepen.
Slowing down, breathing deeply and finding moments to pause each day actually helps reset your nervous system. Ideally you should aim to find 10- 20 minutes a day to relax. This will allow your endorphin and oxytocin levels to increase, meaning you are no longer running on stress hormones. This will help all digestive issues, boost your immune system, help you sleep more easily and deeply improve your overall mood.
So try it. Little bit by little bit. Start slowing down, focus on quality not quantity and see what unfolds…
Step by Step to Slower Living:
The Slowyourhome podcasts have been hugely inspiring for me. Created by Brooke, an Australian writer who has embraced the Slow Living philosophy, the website and blog are full of inspiring content and tips, and the podcast is definitely worth a listen.
I also love the Headspace app; essentially meditation for beginners, set out in an easy to use 10 minute a day course.
If you need help to unwind and turn off the chatter, we have a selection of different guided meditations on our website, all free. Some are designed to help you switch off for 10-20 minutes during the day and relax, others to help guide you in to a deeper sleep at bedtime.
Clare Maddalena, Senior Yoga Teacher, Doula & Founder of LushTums
Clare teaches LushTums Pregnancy Yoga, Postnatal Yoga, Women's Yoga and Prepare for Birth Antenatal Courses in Brighton. For class details, times and locations, and to book your space visit our website.
Visit the Lushtums website for information about all our teacher training courses and to find a Lushtums class near you.