Slow Club: Stop. Breathe.
As the keen-eyed among you might have noticed, I’ve not been blogging about Slow Club as much as I’d hoped to. But my reasons for this are very fitting: I’ve been going too fast to stop. So over the past week, I’ve taken this fact and used it as my starting point.
I figured that if I’m really too busy to get along to a farmer’s market or discover new parts of the city – which happens to us all now and again – then slowing down is going to have to come from within my daily situation. There must be something I can do to tap the breaks when deadlines are looming and lunch is being inelegantly wolfed down in front of a computer screen, right?
Thankfully, one Slow Club tip has really been helping out here: breathing. Or rather, watching oneself breathe. It’s a truly marvelous tool for restoring some calm and sanity when everything is going a hundred miles an hour. When you’re stressing out, you’re taking quick, shallow breaths and your heart rate is rocketing. But the moment you take some deeper, slower breaths, your pulse rate drops and you restore your stability. And noticing this transition puts your mind back inside your body, where you can start feeling in control again.
I’ve been trying this different moments throughout the day – on the way to work, between phone calls, while I’m cooking a meal. And the liberating thing is: you’re always breathing, so you can always check in – you have a built-in mechanism for slowing down and connecting with yourself.
I’ve also managed some longer sessions of mindful breathing. When I fit these in before leaving the house, they really help me to start the day with a sense of calm. And it’s worth sticking with too: breathing practices and meditation are increasingly recognised by scientists as helping people reduce stress, regulate their emotions and be more attentive. All that, just from paying attention to something as simple as your breath going in and out. Who said slowing down had to be hard work?