“And so taking the long way home through the market I slow my pace down. It doesn’t come naturally. My legs are programmed to trot briskly and my arms to pump up and down like pistons, but I force myself to stroll past the stalls and pavement cafes. To enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere. Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself. For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.” – Alexandra Potter
You can say I’m too young to say that life goes past quickly, but it feels like only yesterday I was running giggly down school corridors, leaving college, or calming my shaky hands at my first job interview. But I’m two jobs and three years into my career now and I’ve just decided to take my life on another 180° turn.
One of the many, many crumbs that grew into my final realisation that in fact it was me, not the world who was encouraging the world to wizz past came when I stumbled upon an Elizabeth Gilbert quote, from her book Eat, Pray, Love – which I still haven’t got around to reading, but have only heard good things about – and it hit me like a small metaphorical truck:
“I wanted to call a time out, to demand that everybody just STOP until I could understand everything.”
Maybe you’re expecting me to now reveal the secret of how I tricked the world to stop turning and convinced everybody to wait for me. Bus alas, I didn’t. I struggled through term after term of college, always running, but always feeling behind. But now, a little older and a whole lot more stable, I’ve finally managed to turn the tables. How? Simply by stopping telling myself that I needed to catch up. Little did I know that I’d never been behind. So, if you need to slow your anxious heart and stop rushing, you’ve come to the right place.
Start taking time off
I mean it! Don’t walk away from this thinking you don’t need to do this step, that you’re somehow immune from burnout or haven’t earned a break yet. If you identified with any of the last few paragraphs, this will be a necessary, humbling step that will one of your biggest measures in how to stop rushing. Especially when I became self-employed, I had to start planning out blocks of free time to stop myself from working every minute of every day. Block out some time every day for chill time, have weekend days (even if they’re not on the weekend) and ensure that within that time you have some fun and relax a little. Spend some time reading, walking, playing a game, baking, sitting and chatting with a loved one. Make that time exclusively belong to you and your whims. Allow yourself to breathe.
It can be a difficult but necessary lesson to know the world won’t crumble if you stop tending to everything. I know how much you feel the need to be doing all the time, but I promise you that you’ll be a better, healthier and much more capable person for taking some time off.
Listen to your needs
I’ve written time and time again about listening to your body’s signals as it was a big personal project for me throughout last year. The more you build a conversation with your body, the calmer and better spent you’ll find your time. In taking the time to notice your body’s signals, when it’s hungry, tired, needing of rest or exertion, needing certain foods, etc. you’ll find yourself able to work with your body in flow, moving intuitively and acting in the moment. Our body can become quite easily overlooked and connecting to it brings a real grounding presence to our lives. Much like caring for a plant or a pet, learning to care properly for ourselves halts that cycle of working and rushing and ensures we make time for what we really care about.
Experience the moment
Everyone talks about ‘being in the moment’ but it’s quite a tricky thing to do and it tends to vary wildly from person to person. But, with time and practice, I think everyone can learn to find a speed of life that allows them to be
Always focus on one thing at a time
One of my tp tips for improving your concentration, streamlining your focus will also help you stop rushing. If you’re working on multiple things, talking to someone, waiting for your laundry to finish and keeping an eye on the time to head out, you’ll feel like your world is moving it 100mph, even if it’s not. Do tasks one at a time and keep notes of where you’ve left tasks when they’re waiting on something so you can free up the brain space. Try to minimise your distractions and make use of helpful tools (your reminders app, alarms, etc) that’ll keep track of timing for you. You’ll probably get everything done to a better standard, too.
I mean this in general (I have some tips for my fellow worriers here), but on this topic, stop worrying that you’re behind. Everything you’ve done up to this moment, right here, is the best you could have done – you wouldn’t be you right now without it. Every experience you’ve ever had has taught you something, even if it’s something as small as ‘wow I really don’t like that’. That’s very helpful information! There’s no measure for where you should be with your life right now. No pressure (worth listening to, anyway) for what you should have achieved. Live for the sake of experience, try things because you feel like it, take the front seat with your ambitions, but comparing them to where you ‘should be’ is a massive waste of time when you could be working at where you are.
This might sound impossible and maybe a little ignorant, but I’ve found in the last few years that if you really start talking to yourself like this and you really try and believe in these things, the worries really do lessen and life becomes a whole lot nicer (not to mention, you actually end up doing a hell of a lot more too!).
One way to stop rushing is simply to stop having to. I find myself rushing at my worst when I feel late and ill-prepared. So I make a point of not being either as much as possible. Being organised isn’t all file folders and calendars (although, my goodness they’re lifesavers), it’s just about having systems that help your life be less stressful. I’ve done quite a few blogs on organisational habits (check them out), but here are a few of my top tips:
- Have a place for everything and put it away as soon as you’re done with it!
- Prep anything you can the night before
- Learn how long you averagely take to do things and always give yourself extra time
- Learn quick go-tos for when you are in a rush (eg. five-minute make-up routines or simple, healthy staple meals)
Have some faith
This is a biggun if you want to stop rushing! For me, the crux of my issues with rushing came down to a real distrust in life. I was always trying to control everything through fear and always felt like everything was against me. Through a lot of research, time and practice, I’ve managed to shift that mindset, trusting myself to make the most situations (even if they go ‘bad’) and trusting life to keep giving opportunities for me to jump on. An interesting mindset I’ve looked into is the abundance mindset, which means looking at the world not with fear, but with excitement and belief in how plentiful it is. If you really look, there are opportunities around every corner. By no means does this mean I think life just ‘gives’ things to me, I work damn hard on my goals, but I no longer feel like I’m running against the wind. Now, I’d sometimes go as far as saying the wind helps me out a little.
So there you have it, my tips and tricks on how to find some peace and stop rushing. Whoever you are reading this know that you’re exactly where you are and that’s doesn’t have to be a good or a bad thing. All you can do is make the most of it, learn the lessons in front of you and push forward to where you’d like to be. Even where you want to go is subject to change. Had I not been on the journey I’ve been on, I might never have realised what I wanted to do next. And that’s the higgeldy piggeldy story of life.
Enjoy every second. Love, Ella-Rose xx