Three Reasons You Need to Slow Down

Last night, I went to bed at nine o’clock, which is early for me.

But I was so tired and worn out that I had no choice but to turn in. I could’ve pushed through another couple hours of work or done something more “productive,” but sometimes the most productive thing I can do is rest.

Picture of a tortoise
Photo Credit: via Compfight cc

If you’ve ever been so busy you’ve made yourself sick or snapped at your spouse due to stress, you know what a lack of rest can do to you. You can run yourself ragged and spread yourself so thin that you stay active without really accomplishing anything.

When we race from one thing to the next, we end up leading busy, but insignificant lives. [Tweet that]

Every time I’m too busy to take a walk or enjoy a good meal, I remind myself that I need to slow down. If you’re moving too fast to enjoy the simple things in life, then so do you. And you’d better do it now before it’s too late.

Why you should slow down soon

Why is it important to slow down sooner rather than later? Because:

  1. It’s good for you. Studies show that getting eight hours of sleep can actually lead to weight loss, not to mention the obvious fact that a well-rested mind leads to clearer thinking and better work.
  2. It makes you more likable  If you’re always tired (because you are doing too much), chances are you are often cranky. Who wants to be around someone who’s always complaining or in a bad mood? Your friends, family, and colleagues will thank you if you take a nap or say “no” once in awhile.
  3. It helps you focus on what really matters. It’s possible to strive so hard that you end up missing the most important things in life. When all you have are obligations, you forget to savor the special moments.

When we slow down, we make a few important declarations to the world (and to ourselves):

  • “I can’t do everything, but I can do the essential things.”
  • “My loved ones deserve my best, not my leftovers.”
  • “When I do less, I do better.”

Don’t you want to be able to say those things more? I do.

Let’s go for a stroll together

For me, slowing down is about being present. It’s about making the person in front of me feel like important (because they are). It’s about concentrating on the tasks I’m doing in the moment, because when I’m distracted everything I do suffers.

Slow Down Challenge

Maybe like me, you’ve been ready to slow down for awhile. But you never started, because you weren’t quite sure where to begin.

If that’s you, I’d like to invite you to join me in taking the Slow Down Challenge, a simple five-day series that will help you enjoy each moment, be more productive, and live with greater intentionality.

Instead of trying to cram more activities into shrinking blocks of time, what if we appreciated each moment for what it has to offer? And instead of trying to increase the quantity of time, what if we focused on the quality?

If you’ve been rushing through life when you should have been resting, this challenge is for you. Let’s take the first step (which may look more like a stop) together.

How do you need to slow down right now? Share in the comments.

65 thoughts on “Three Reasons You Need to Slow Down

  1. I hurled a telephone across the room last night because i was mad at myself. Clearly time for a break.

    (for the record, no humans or animals were hurt or even nearby. i always practice responsible throwing of inanimate objects against stone fireplaces.)

      1. The phone *appears* to still be in one piece. The battery was dead, so i don’t know if it actually works. It was very satisfying to throw. Better than a koosh.

  2. These messages are timely and awesome. As you get older, it becomes harder to sleep straight through for 7-9 hours. For some, like women going through menopause, its impossible. Rest is good – in any capacity.
    The flip side, however, is — home prices are going up, gasoline – up, taxes -up. College tuition – don’t make me laugh. Young folks are living at home longer, having trouble finding gainful employment, not to mention health insurance, and many – well they just really want to blog about life and catch a little work here and there. And drink expensive coffee.
    What does that mean? It means Dad and Mom will work, work, and work some more. Welcome to reality.

    1. I’m sensing that, Kent. Sleep doesn’t come as easily as it once did. These days, it’s more of a discipline than a given. So I appreciate your wisdom and experience.

      You may be right about Mom and Dad working more, but I hope that’s not the only option for engaging with the new reality. I, for one, believe we can expect more from “young folks.” In fact, I believe they long for the bare of expectation to be raised. They need a higher ideal to live into.

  3. Life whips past us at record speed, and we eat fast food and drink instant coffee. Well aware that both these things are terrible. Terrible but fast. We’re losing quality of life in favor of quantity and this is a lie we’ve swallowed.

    “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. I’ve decided today I would go somewhere and just sit and observe.

    I need a break and your messages are timely. A rested me is the best version of myself. That just came to me.

  5. A great and timely message as always, Jeff!

    The moving truck is in the yard and we have just a few days to fill it. As my husband noted this morning as we were rolling a heavy toolbox up the ramp, we must move with care so we stay safe and healthy, and keep our energy levels up.

  6. If you’re ever in Seattle we need to grab a beer. “In-Between” has hit home for me as a husband and father trying to hustle on a dream. There is definitely tension and I rarely feel at rest. However, I’m learning to seize the opportunity to have moments w/ my kids.

    If that means closing the laptop to feed my daughter a bottle so Mommy gets a break or pausing Duck Dynasty so my son can tell me about football practice. Thank you for sharing the journey and admitting sometimes you muck it up. 🙂

  7. A way that my wife and I have been slowing down more lately has been to leave the TV off in the evenings. Instead of sitting and lounging, we sit and talk. By not letting the drama or action of a show occupy our attention, our mind slows down, and we end up winding down for bed much better.

  8. I’ve found a need to be more intentional with my time. One thing that has helped is to force myself to eat meals at the dinner table instead of standing up over the kitchen sink or in front of the tv. The next step is to slow down and enjoy every bite.

  9. Well said Jeff. Thanks so much for sharing such beautiful ways to live life to the fullest.
    I had read a write up a couple of days back which says some thing very similar. Life can be led in two ways – 1. With intentions 2. With goals. We can live each moment with out forgetting the actual purpose of our living when we agree to lead life with intentions where as in goal oriented living we often live focused in the future or past, rather than in the present.

  10. A reminder I need all the time, Jeff. Amazing how your perspective changes when you remind yourself that the world does indeed keep revolving just fine if we choose to slow down and catch our breath.

  11. Jeff, I’m loving this series! God has been trying to impress upon me the need to rest, for the last couple months. The hardest part is slowing down. So your post has been a good reminder! Thanks!

  12. I am ADD (Addicted to Doing Disorder). I make lists of my lists (not so much of late) and compulsively endeavor to get everything done. Everyday ended in exhaustion and sometimes super frustration even though my husband would encourage me by saying, “Well, you got some things off your list, didn’t you?” Then, while teaching at the Prison the Bible Study “Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Makes Them Free” by Nancy LeDemoss, one lesson in particular took me to task. It dealt specifically with the lie “I can’t get everything done!” The lesson brings out that we all have a 24 hour day in which to accomplish (here it comes) not all that we want to, but all that God wants us to in that day. I now truly have a life verse, a verse to guide me and keep me on target. Praying to the Father, Jesus said of His own life and time on earth, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” John 17:4 Those were Christ’s two missions and since this chapter is Him praying that our relationship to Him would be the same as His with the Father, we know this is what He wants us to do: To glorify God while we are on the earth with all that we do and say, and to finish the work that HE has given us to do, His work. When I get to barking too much about all that I have to do, it sets off the shock collar of God’s Word (John 17:4), and gets me back on target.

  13. Yep! Today I dragged myself away from the laptops to watch grands (2/5) play outside, noticed we had a lot of purslane (an edible weed) & decided to pick some for lunch. The kids joined me, wanted to help me wash it and prepare it… so I enjoyed the results in different ways and they learned about something new!

  14. I don’t know – I thought I was getting pretty good at the slowing down thing a year and a half ago when I quit a couple of jobs and started working 25 hours a week instead of 70. But then I started writing forty hours a week so I’m just as busy as ever! Still way better being out in the sun with my laptop than in a dark, air-conditioned office, though…

    1. Yep. Totally, agree, Lori. I think this is more about finding your own personal rhythm than necessarily limiting the amount of hours you work per week. We are all wired differently. The point is to find what energizes you and do that.

  15. Hmmm.. I need to slow downing planning. I plan everything and than leaves me no extra time to meditate or enjoy calmness. My routine is always full

  16. I crashed and burned in a big way a number of years ago. Ultimately, my life was slowed to almost a stand still. In hind sight, I am grateful I was forced to slow down. I got my life back. Not only did I get a second chance at life, I’ve been given the opportunity to explore new passions and dreams. If I sense myself slipping back into my old strive, strive, strive routine, screech go the brakes.

  17. Man, am I glad I stumbled upon your blog. This series has been very valuable to me. I’m a big believer in keeping life simple, but lately I’ve been ignoring my own advice. Now I’m warding off illness and general grumpiness. You are right on. When I do less, I do better. Thank you!

  18. Great post. I recently have been slowing down since my summer vacation. Coming back to my routine, I’ve decided to stop drinking as much coffee and eating too much sugar. I found I much more tired by 8-9pm but I feel I am getting better sleep and a sense of calmness that disappears once you are caught in a caffeine loop. Where you need to have more sugar & caffeine to get thru your day. Take small steps in the right direction everyday, this will lead to a great amount of change at the end of your year. It’s hard to stop a caffeine & sugar addiction since these are seen as acceptable drugs we can’t really OD on. That is so not the case anymore.

  19. Lovely timing for this, Jeff. Thank you for holding this space for us all.

    I’ve recently gained awareness that I’m not OK and am taking steps to simplify, organize and heal. If all goes as ‘planned’ (funny thing this planning somedays!) I will be able to cross all current and up-coming To-Do’s off my list by tomorrow, Friday at the latest.

    My goal is to slow way down and reach deeper into a gentle healing time in my journey. I’m looking forward to the daily prompts assisting me in staying mindful of this.

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