New Year, Simpler Life? 7 Practical Tips for Slowing Down

By Linda K. Laffey, MFT

Living with intention and purpose often seems like a pipe dream. Amid our busy lives and harried schedules, filled with obligation and responsibility, who has time for intention?
The problem with this mindset is that it doesn’t support a sustainable lifestyle. Perhaps you’re working loads of hours each week. Or, maybe you’ve taken on more domestic responsibilities with a new baby or an aging parent.

Whatever your individual circumstances are, do you feel that you’re missing out in life by burning the candle at both ends?
If you’re ready to live a simpler life, consider these practical tips for slowing down.

1. Spend Time in Nature

Whether you spend all day in an office or most of your time cleaning up after toddlers, getting outside can do wonders for your wellbeing, such as:
• Helps to alleviate stress and anxiety
• Boosts creativity
• Encourages mindfulness
• Improves memory
• Lowers blood pressure
What’s more is that it gets you out of the house or office for a change of scenery. This simple switch-up can help to realign your perspective and make you feel better overall.

2. Unplug for a While

Technology is fantastic, connecting us and taking us places unimagined in year’s past. However, it can become all-consuming quickly. You can get swept away in the constant upkeep of profiles or social news.
Plus, even when you’re not logged in, the barrage of notifications can cause stress without you even realizing it.
Instead of succumbing to the trickle of online stressors, take an hour, a day, or a weekend to turn off your devices. Without the “buzz-buzz” of your phone, you can focus on one thing at a time a little better—including those who matter most in your life.

3. Practice Deep Breathing

When your mind feels busy and stressed, your body feels it, too. To settle your nervous system, try paying attention to how you’re breathing.
For example, notice your breath by focusing on your inhale and exhale. When your mind starts to wander, redirect it back to your breath.
Breathe in slowly to the count of 4 through your nose. Hold your breath for the count of 4, and exhale just as slowly through your mouth, letting your breath carry the tension away. Repeat several times, for a total of 5 minutes or more. Your nervous system will love you for it.

4. Embrace Small Moments

Is there a part of your day that you enjoy but tend to rush? Think about the first cup of coffee or mid-morning chocolate break.
Instead of rushing past it, boost your awareness of the world around you by enjoying these small moments. For example, take a little more time with your morning coffee by savoring it instead of drinking it while you get ready for the day.
Sure, this might mean budgeting a few more minutes into your morning routine, but it will slow down the world around you significantly.

5. Complete One To-Do List Item Daily

Even if you’re not a list-maker, most of us write to-dos in our minds. But often, you likely feel like you’re trying to keep up with the world. It seems that there’s so much to do and never enough time to do it!
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, make a daily list of attainable goals. Then, make it a point to cross at least one item off each day. It could be something as mundane as wiping off the kitchen counters. Still, not only will you instantly feel a sense of accomplishment, but it will empower you, too.

6. Declutter Your Home

Minimalism is all the rage nowadays, and for good reason. But I’m not suggesting that you transform into a full-blown minimalist. Instead, inventory your home and see what items you genuinely need to keep and what you can live without.
Most people find that decluttering their homes helps to simplify their entire life. Give this one a try in the new year.

7. Add Gaps to Your Schedule

When you feel rushed all the time or driven by severe time constraints, it’s going to wipe you out. Many people struggle with burnout because their schedules are so jam-packed.
Have a look at your schedule to see if there are activities that you can cross off. Ask yourself if you still enjoy specific commitments or if you’re only motivated by mere obligation.
Next, add some space in your schedule. Seeing gaps in your daily or weekly routine may seem like a shocker. But embrace the new-found freedom and make the most of it by enjoying the decreased stress.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to slow down and simplify tour life, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT