It is April and Stress Awareness month. It is also Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a time of acceleration; nature is galloping on with life, birds are flitting about gathering materials to build nests; plants and bushes are growing faster than you can keep up with. 
It is tempting for us to speed up too. After months of hibernation and being hunkered down, April is when we really get going. Days are longer so we can do more. The garden needs planting (and weeding), grass needs more mowing, seeds need sowing. The social diary is starting to fill up after a few free weekends. I get that slightly panicky feeling that the world is picking up pace and I no longer have time for me. 
Now is exactly the time to slow down. When we accelerate, we put our adrenaline and cortisol into mass production. If we can put the brakes on ourselves, we can take back control of our minds before they get kidnapped by life. Mindfully and intentionally slowing down both body and mind gives a feeling of peace and calm, even fleetingly, and the power to respond and choose, rather than react to the ever-increasing flow. 
This happens because as we slow down and be present, we cut the wires of the over-stimulated brain and the strands of tangled thoughts. It’s like rebooting your phone or computer when too many open apps have caused a freeze or a crash. Not only that, but you also go from multi-tasking to single tasking. While this may seem anathema to those juggling many responsibilities, the notion that multi-tasking allows us to get more done is a fallacy. There is no such thing since the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. If we do two or more things at once, we switch attention between the different tasks, losing information each time we swap over. This makes us less effective – and slower – at each task, since we must go back over ground already covered to remind us of where we are. Over time, it weakens our mental muscle, making us less able to focus on one thing. By slowing down, you actually speed up and become more efficient and productive. 
So, how do we slow down in this crazy world? It is difficult, especially as we are so neurologically wired to keep moving, achieving, solving, progressing… 
I have one simple tip for you. When you remember to do so, imagine you are in slow motion. This will be a physical act, and gets the body to calm first, then the mind follows. If you reach for your cup of tea while reading this, do it painfully slowly. Watch the miniscule movements of your fingers as they grip round the handle, then feel the weight of the cup as you glacially raise it to drink. When I do this, I cultivate some gratitude and a sense of wonder. Taken completely for granted, how amazing that my brain can work in smooth concert with my body to make this happen, while I am, most of the time, not even thinking about it
Tip the drink into your mouth more slowly than usual, so you can mindfully taste it. How often do you slosh it down and miss one of your great daily joys? 
If you think I am crazy, try it for yourself. See how your mind calms as you let your body slow down. Even if you are busy today, your mind will correct itself and start to believe that whatever you have got on, you will cope. This is because your mind is now thinking rationally and creatively, rather than exaggerating the size of the to do list. 
Here are some other things you could do in slow motion throughout the day: 
Getting out of bed in the morning (often slow anyway these days...) 
Peeling an orange or banana 
Locking a door 
Tying your shoelaces 
Drawing the curtains or blinds 
Dialling a number on your phone 
Putting your seat belt on 
As you do these things in slo-mo, you notice more as you become more mindful. When you do, you are more present and pay attention to what you are doing. You engage your senses and stop over-thinking and fretting. Even if you do this for a few seconds you will get benefits. 
We are addicted to busy-ness, to the drama of the stress – because it can be exciting and give us a sense of self-worth. Breaking the rushing habit will change your relationship with stress and allow you to experience more in the moment. In this glorious time of Spring (even in the perpetual rain), we can stop and notice the world as it grows back into life. We wouldn’t want to miss it, would we? 
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