Katie doesn’t have any experience with this topic—that’s why she’s opening up to all of you in hopes of learning more!
Go slow. Speed up. Hurry up. Take your time.
Have you ever felt the push and pull between the above commonly used phrases? I feel like I personally hear or feel these often—driving to work, at work, driving home, running errands, balancing social time, etc. I’m lucky to not feel this at home. My husband has been trying to get me to slow down and sit down for years. This article is partially indebted to him.
When I moved from Tennessee to Ohio in 2014, there were a few things I noticed immediately. Most notably, while driving, people will creep into the intersection trying to get a jump when the traffic light turns green. Silly me, I waited back at the line not understanding this phenomenon. I thought this was the strangest thing. I first thought maybe they had an emergency. Then I thought it was a competitive thing. Eventually, I noticed almost everyone doing it and I just attributed impatience and a need to always be moving. I, too, am impatient and have that workaholic/accomplishment-driven gene in me so I get it—“time is money.” But will that mentality and the benefits from that mentality actually bring us success, wealth, and happiness? I think not.
This isn’t an article about what success, wealth, and happiness are. That is an article for another day addressing the medias influences and all its demons. (For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am a Social Media Coordinator for one company and Networks and Brand Manager for another company and yes, I hate social media). This article is about allowing ourselves, regardless of our influences, to take a step back and truly understand the importance of slowing down.
A couple of weeks ago I had to rush into one of my classes without having prepared all my lesson plans. I was unmotivated to even create the lesson plans, then when I tried to force myself, everything came out contrived and completely unproductive for the students. I shared my struggles with my students just as I shared them with you. Instead of having our usual class, we had a day where we played with different games and exercises that still related to our lessons for that month but was ultimately a brain-break day for everyone. It turned out that we had more “lightbulb moments” in that class than before. Students were understanding concepts fully, connecting dots from one concept to the next, and really opening up in group conversations. That evening I reflected on the success from that class and came to a few conclusions:
- It was fun, relaxing, and no pressure to “learn” a certain quota of information.
- I didn’t force myself to teach something even I wasn’t interested in—I listened to my brain and it’s need to take a break. I decided, “If I need a break, I’m sure some of the students do, too.”
- I was transparent with the students and explained that I was feeling burn out and wanted to get ahead of that feeling while taking a break now. That was a wonderful conversation with the students...not to mention how much better I felt after being completely honest.
In college, I had an upperclass peer offer some advice that has stuck with me. Each semester, she would take one day off from her classes and treat it like a personal day. She would go shopping or watch movies all day long and not let herself do one second of homework or studying. Coming from a medical student, I thought she probably knew what she was talking about. I adapted the same habit and it really did make a difference. Just taking a break and slowing down for ONE DAY can be such good healing for your brain, body, and soul.
If you have been following my articles, you’ve seen that my husband and I recently moved back down to the South. Watching the speed in which things happen here are much more my speed. And that speed is now — slower. I know the location shouldn’t matter because it’s a personal decision but the location did make a difference for me. When I was living in Ohio the rust belt work ethic/grind all day mentality actually seeped in as truth for me. I had forgotten what I knew to be healthy for me and started working 7 days a week. Part of it was out of necessity, but admittedly, the other part was because I thought that is just how things work up here.
Now I am trying to walk slower and notice more. I am trying to talk slower and be more concise. I am even trying to drive slower (sometimes...)! I want to slow down more, experience and honor the present, and quit worrying about the future as much. If we work and rush ourselves to death, the future won’t matter anyways.