Life can get crazy busy, really fast. I am currently feeling the pressure of a rapidly growing to-do list and while life is good, the challenges are proving well,…challenging.
Even when things get hectic and we don’t know when we’re going to catch a break, busyness does requires some balance. We can’t go at a constant 110mph without burnout. Rest assured, if you don’t establish balanced habits, there will be casualties. That’s why there needs to be some in-between time tucked here and there to slow down, recharge, regroup and collect our sanity.
I originally posted this list of ten tips on my last blog years ago and I decided I definitely needed to revisit it. Now the list is at 21! You’re welcome 🙂
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1. Read a Book
This would be my number one, book nerd that I am! But seriously, research shows that reading is a great way to relax. And I’m not talking about something highly analytical. Read something for fun! Or maybe you read highly analytical stuff for fun…Well, whatever you consider enjoyable and relaxing, read that!
2. Play a Game
When I say game, I’m talking good ol’ fashioned boards, cards, dice, spinners and instructions that take 20 minutes to figure out. some of our family faves include Taboo, Monopoly Deal, Uno, Boggle, Scattergories, and Dutch Blitz (our all-time fave card game). Get your favorite people together, take a load off and have some fun!
3. Write a Letter
The art and habit of letter writing isn’t as common as it used to be. But it’s not dead and just like physical books, I don’t think it’s in danger of dying. There are plenty of people who still write letters. You can even join the Letter Writers Alliance, an online society that is dedicated to keeping this tradition alive!
Writing a letter doesn’t cost much, just a stamp and some time to put your thoughts on paper. Ah, yes–time! Take a few minutes to indulge in some real text messaging.
4. Take a Nap
Take 15 minutes and just shut down. The car, the couch, your bed, if you’re lucky. Steal away and take a snooze and then pick up where you left off!
5. Crank Up the Classics
Make your morning or afternoon mellow with classical tunes. Classical music is soothing and will brighten your mood or ease your tension. If you’re feeling frazzled and like you can’t catch up with the craziness around you, keep calm and listen to Beethoven.
6. Take up a Hobby
I’m a firm believer in hobbies. Everyone needs something they can go to exercise their creativity and give dreams a place to play. Some people play instruments. Some cook. Some go fishing. Some paint pictures. Some scrapbook. Some have a combination of several things. Whatever your creative outlet is, give it a space in your busy schedule and don’t miss out on the things that put a smile on your face and keep your brain happy.
7. Cook a Meal
We live in a microwaved society. These days you don’t have to know how to cook much because food can be put in the microwave, poured out of a bag, called in, or picked up at a window. But if you find yourself too busy to cook every so often, you might need to slow it down and take out your pan or casserole dish. Taking time to cook a meal is not only the healthier choice, it can also be a good way to interact with your family, reflect on the day, think through problems, or just escape the craziness.
8. Take a Walk
If the weather permits, get some fresh air and go for a stroll. Walking outdoors is a great way to clear your mind and get your thoughts in order. Not to mention the added health benefits and the inevitable need for a tall, refreshing glass of water afterwards!
9. Start a Journal
Journaling is not just a great way to press pause on life, it’s also a great way to clear your ind and organize your thoughts and ideas. This is one of my latest re-gained habits and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s seriously one of the best things I will have done this year. No joke. And remember, a journal isn’t like a diary where you spill your guts and emotions. It can be if you want but it most definitely doesn’t have to be! It’s a great place to write lists, sketch out ideas, jot down random thoughts that don’t quite yet have a place anywhere else. Seriously, 10-15 minutes and see how re-charged you’ll feel after getting some of your brain onto paper!
10. Say No
You don’t need to say yes to everything. One of the best ways to slow down is to be mindful of what you can realistically fit on your calendar without sacrificing the health and sanity of yourself and your family. That means sometimes saying no to good things. Not all good things are beneficial or necessary right now or in this season. In the words of the apostle Paul, “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient,” (1 Corinthians 10:23). It’s okay to say no. Sometimes, it’s the best choice you can make.
11. Set boundaries around social media
Social media has become such a huge part of many of our lives. Sometimes I forget that there’s a whole generation that doesn’t know life apart from smart phones, apps, streaming, and likes, follows, and subscribers. These things aren’t all necessarily bad but they do require boundaries. Here are some ways you might set boundaries around their social media and general phone consumption:
- No social media before a certain time in the morning (like after your morning routine, quiet time, workout, etc.)
- No social media after a certain time at night (like right before or after dinner, before family time, etc.)
- Choose one day a week when you’re not on social at all
- Try a social media fast (Check out The 40-Day Social-Media Fast by Wendy Speake)
12. Do a puzzle
I think puzzles are under-rated. They’re such a great way to both slow down the chaos in your brain as well as exercise it! My husband and I don’t do this very often but we love it when we do. Puzzles also give space for conversation or simple silence. Last time we worked on a puzzle, we listened to an audio Bible and talked about the chapters we were going through. So grab a puzzle, clear off the table and enjoy!
13. Make an evening playlist
I’m obsessed with making playlists on Spotify. I also like exploring other people’s playlists for tunes I’d otherwise never hear. One thing I’ve started doing is listening to instrumental jazz in the evening to create a cozy night time atmosphere. It signals my brain that we’re winding down the day and it’s time to relax.
14. Make a cup of tea
There’s something so soothing about a hot cup of tea. It takes a few minutes to steep and to me, drinking it is not something that’s easy to rush (idk, that’s just me!). If you like tea, try taking a 10-15 minute tea break in the afternoon. But make sure that if you are going to do something while you enjoy your cuppa, pair it with something equally as slow or calming –
- write a journal entry
- read a book or magazine
- listen to some instrumental music
Or just sit in silence. I don’t know about you but I don’t sit in silence with my own thoughts often enough.
15. Turn off the television
We don’t watch a lot of TV in our home but I do go through spurts every so often where I’ll binge a show on my phone whilst I’m working on a project. Technology has given us the ability to overindulge on TV in a way we couldn’t back in the day. It doesn’t matter what your programming addiction is, if you’re a binger of any kind, be intentional about turning it off and doing something else more often than not. I’m not saying don’t ever watch anything but do set boundaries so your not overindulging when you could be doing something better with your time and energy.
16. Take a bath
Or shower. I know not everyone has a bath tub so do whatever you can or want to. Use your favorite products. Light candles or diffuse some oils. Read or listen to a book or sing along to your favorite tunes. Do whatever will relax or energize you!
17. Clean out a drawer
Sometimes we make ourselves so busy that we don’t make time to take care of mundane things like cleaning out a junk drawer, filing the paperwork that’s been sitting on the counter, cleaning out your email inbox, or organizing the linen closet or pantry. Schedule some time to tackle that cleaning or organization project that you know will only take you about 15-20 minutes if you just focused. If you have bigger projects that will take several hours, either clear the afternoon, or schedule 20 minute chunks a day and work on that project little by little until it’s complete!
18. Iron some clothes
Okay, so I know not everyone has an iron (which low key blows my mind but hey! to each their own) but I grew up in a home where ironing was a part of the laundry process. If you do iron, and you need a break from the chaos, break out the iron and board and get to work. Ironing for me is a task I don’t have to think about and I can listen to a podcast, audiobook, or watch videos from an online course I might be working through. PLUS! When I’m done, I have blouses or dresses that are ready to go for the next couple weeks!
It’s a win-win in my book!
19. Phone a loved one
As much as I love to talk, I don’t talk on the phone a whole lot. But I need to be better about keeping in touch with family and friends. Especially those that live in other states. If you’re not great at keeping in touch, reach out to a family member or friend and schedule some time to chat and catch up. It’s great for your relationships but also great for slowing down and focusing on someone else for a time.
20. Go on a date
I’m a huge believer in dates! When Steven and I were engaged, someone told us to make sure and do something fun together every 7 days. We’ve taken that to heart and now, we still date once a week as often as possible. Sometimes it’s going out to eat at a favorite restaurant and other times it’s playing a card game in bed with a pizza.
Dating isn’t just for couples. You can take your kiddo out on a date or meet a friend and hang out. You can even take yourself on a date (married or single!). Going to a restaurant or coffee shop by yourself is a great way to slow down and reflect on life and what’s going on. But no matter who you’re dating or what you’re doing, put your phone down and be present! Pay attention to the person you’re with. If you’re flying solo, use this as a time to recharge without being connected to your inbox, DMs, feed, or shows. You’ll thank yourself later!
11. Be Intentional
We have to be intentional about our time. It’s a resource that is precious and limited. We all have the same 24 hour day but we never know how many of those days we have.
Sometimes intentionality means saying a hard no, other times it means saying yes to something that’s equally as challenging. Sometimes it means disappointing people. Sometimes it means changing directions or resetting your priorities. With all the options and distractions that bombard us on a daily basis, you have to guard your time vigilantly. Be intentional about what matters most to you.
Instagram can wait.
Nobody’s going to get mad at you if you don’t check your FB feed again (and if they do, you need to find some new friends).
Netflix will still be there when you get back.
You’re replaceable at your job. Don’t let it steal you away from your most important relationships.
Your health and well being aren’t worth sacrificing at the alter of that promotion.
Your email and texts will be ready for you to open at a later time.
One day your kiddo won’t want to play catch with you. One day your friend might move away to pursue another chapter in life. One day your significant other may decide that someone else has more time for them. You don’t want to look up one day and find that you missed it all.
What are some of the ways you take it slow? Do you need to make commitments to be more intentional about slowing down your busyness? Why do you think it’s so hard to stop sometimes?