Is living life in the fast lane causing you anxiety? Are you overstimulated by overcrowded schedules, social media doomscrolling, and storming through life at a million miles an hour? You might need to slow it down
Decaying burnout trends, such as bed rotting and crust days are patrolling social media this month, but what’s this really saying about our mental health and the way we may need to rethink our day-to-day pace? Now, I’m all for the health benefits of the unpretentious midday nap, but should we have to hit absolute rock bottom before reacting, and are there healthier ways to rest? Let's take a look at seven ways to consciously slow down your speed so you find a better sense of balance in life.
1. Stimulate your vagus nerve
When our bodies are on high alert, it’s because our minds have become overstimulated and overwhelmed. One way to nudge ourselves out of this anxious state is to stimulate the vagus nerve. This will trigger our ‘rest and digest’ response and help us feel more relaxed. Some ways to do this are exercise, laughing, and meditation. An easy breathing exercise is the square breathing practice. Simply, breathe in for four counts, gently hold at the top of the breath for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and gently hold and the bottom of the breath for four counts. You can repeat this for as long as you need.
2. Good boundaries
When did saying “no” become so difficult? If you’ve reached your maximum, you may not have the emotional scope to deal with other people’s problems or overstretch yourself at work. And getting into the trap of being/doing everything for everybody is a fast track way to a burnout puncture.
So, how do we set boundaries, especially with people that rely on us? Staying strong and understanding the implications of getting too wrapped in other people’s expectations will help when it comes to setting firmer boundaries. If you need further guidance when it comes to pleasing people or having the confidence to put yourself at the top of the pile at times, you may find it helpful to speak to a professional.
In this video, Life coach and author Michelle Elman explains more about the benefits of setting boundaries.
3. Kind(er) words
I’m wondering if we might not feel quite so fraught if we lowered some of the expectations we put on ourselves. I certainly need this advice as much as the next person! A little spoonful of self-soothing can go such a long way when it comes to reducing stress. Micro-moments of encouraging words like, “It’s OK to take time to pick this up” and “Mistakes are what help us grow” can provide a deeper sense of self-care when there’s simply so much going on.
4. Sleep (crust days or good quality sleep?)
Crust days, otherwise known as bed rotting, might sound like a great way to claw things back when you’re on the precipice of overstimulation, but it may start to interfere with your natural sleep patterns if it becomes a regular thing. Staying too long in bed can make it trickier to stick to a good bedtime routine and even disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms. And they may even give you a few aches and pains from not allowing your body the space to move around.
An occasional day of indulgence is all well and good, but it may be worth keeping an eye on their frequency and if they end up disturbing your sleep patterns. Try some good sleep hygiene, such as meditating before bed, limiting screen time, and going to bed at roughly the same time each night.
5. Silent walking
At the risk of throwing another TikTok trend into the mix, silent walking is simply a way to switch off from the chatter of everyday life. Many of us have gotten into the habit of popping our earphones on while out for a walk, but silent walking is creating room in our minds to notice and appreciate our natural surroundings.
Listening to the sound of birdsong, feeling our feet on the earth beneath us, and connecting with the sights of the changing seasons not only reduces our stress levels but heightens our creative spirit. Walking in a meditative way puts us in touch with the oneness or togetherness of the world around us; we can’t help but slow down when we move to the beat of nature a little more.
6. Restorative yoga
Restorative yoga can help you unwind and encourage a deep feeling of rest. There is usually less movement with restorative yoga than with other yoga practices such as vinyasa or kundalini so you can lean into the poses to receive as much physical and mental relaxation as possible. It’s also a powerful way to focus on your breathing and develop a good sense of self-awareness. Carving out time to consciously slow down when you’re overwhelmed can help close down an overtired brain for a little while.
7. Take a screen break
In an era of doomscrolling (surfing through bad news) and social media overstimulation, it’s no wonder our senses are saturated with continual news coverage. From climate change to political corruption, we sometimes end up slipping into a news wormhole that has negative implications for our mental health. This makes it even more vital to take an occasional break from our phones. I’m guilty of this as much as the next person, so one way I’ve found a balance is to turn off WhatsApp notifications. I’ve told the people closest to me to call me if it’s an emergency; otherwise, the world can wait until I have a gap to check my messages.
So what are you waiting for? Indulge some time away from your screens this week and find some pockets of slow self-care that’s healthy for your hearts and souls.