I’ve been thinking about summer lately. It’s supposed to be a time when we slow down and enjoy ourselves a bit, relax, and maybe even take a vacation. But that’s not usually what happens. We get bombarded trying to keep up with our kids’ schedules, demands at work, all sorts of activities. Many of us even feel like our vacations are hectic and stressful. In today’s culture we don’t really know how to slow down. We just keep going until we’re burned out.
This isn’t the kind of life God wants for you. He wants you to slow down and refresh from time to time so you can live with more passion and purpose. Here are 7 practical things you can do to slow down this summer and throughout the rest of the year.1. Do less
Most of us are doing too much because we haven’t taken the time to really evaluate our priorities. Without a clear sense of what our priorities are, everything is important, which means nothing is. Take some time to stop, examine your priorities, and consider what matters most. Focus on the essentials. Let the rest go. Say “no” more often. Give yourself time between errands, work, family commitments, and visiting friends to give your day a more leisurely pace.2. Be present
Slowing down is not so much about moving more slowly, but about being more present to what is going on around you. God wants you to be aware of things while they are actually happening. He wants you to fully experience every breath of air you take, every bite of food, every smile from a baby, every song you hear. Make an effort to focus on the now. When you realize you’re distracted, gently pull yourself back into the present moment and be attentive to the person, task, or situation at hand.3. Eat slower
So many of us eat in a hurry, barely chewing our food. We’re too busy thinking about the things on our to-do lists. Next time you eat, be more mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. How does it look? How does it smell? How does it taste? Practice chewing more slowly and make healthy choices about what you eat. Sit at a table with others as much as you can, and just enjoy the simple pleasures of eating.4. Surround yourself with nature
There is plenty of research that shows how nature slows us down. It brings our heart rates and blood pressure down, clears our minds, and brings us a greater sense of calm. Take time to get outside regularly. Don’t talk on your cell phone or text. Instead, look around, observe what’s going on in the beautiful natural world God created. Breathe.5. Do one thing at a time
Most of us recognize that we cannot do everything at once, but often we subconsciously refuse to accept that. We think we’re being more efficient when we multi-task, but the truth is we’re being less productive. We have to choose between many options in deciding what to do on any given day or in any given hour, so it’s important that we focus on one thing at a time. You’re going to feel the urge to jump from task to task. Just remind yourself that what you’ve chosen to focus on now is the most important at this time.6. Disconnect more often
Today we are constantly connected to our digital devices. If we’re not talking, we’re texting or checking social media or email. It’s incredibly distracting. So leave your phone behind more often. Turn if off more frequently. Set rules for yourself. It could be no digital devices at the dinner table, no checking your phone when visiting friends, or taking a break from digital devices on Sundays, whatever you feel works well for you. When you’re connected all the time, you’re constantly at the mercy of what’s coming in and the demands of others. Disconnecting more often will help you slow down and focus on what’s important.7. Allow more time and show up early
Most of us underestimate how long things take. Then we feel anxious, frustrated, and rushed. Like we’re always running behind. If you believe an activity will take fifteen minutes, give it half an hour. Then, if it actually does take fifteen, you’ll have an extra fifteen minutes. By building more time into your schedule, you’ll arrive early or on time for commitments and your days won’t seem so unmanageable.
Start practicing these 7 tips, and you’ll find it’s easier to slow down and enjoy your summer and steer clear of burnout. God bless you and those you love!