Do you race through your days feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to do? When you get into bed at night, do you feel so tightly wound that it’s hard to relax and fall asleep? When you wake in the morning, do you already feel stressed before you get out of bed? Even if you feel like you can’t slow down without everything falling apart, I promise you that there are simple things you can do to live more sanely, feel better, sleep better and still get your most important tasks done.

1) Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness means being present. Research show that being in tune with your body and environment, even for a short period of time, decreases stress hormones and can even heal damaged DNA. When you feel stressed, practice shifting your attention to what’s happening in the moment. See and hear your environment. Slow down. Feel your body. Take a deep breath and feel the calming air going in and out. To take this a step further, go online and search for mindfulness meditations on YouTube and try one. Just a few minutes of mindfulness practice can change the way your whole day feels and can improve your sleep at night.

2) Use Transition Times Strategically

Think of times in your day where you’re doing something but aren’t really doing anything. Examples include driving from point A to point B, or sitting in a waiting room, or being put on hold while waiting to speak to someone. What could you do during these times that would refresh you or help you connect with yourself? When I’m driving, I listen to soothing music or a favourite inspirational speaker who reminds me of what matters in life. When stuck in a waiting room, I pop in my earbuds and listen to classical music or a favourite guided breathing meditation. If I’m put on hold or stand in a long line, I use the time to take some deep relaxing breaths and really slow down from within.

3) Eliminate the Unnecessary

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a hard look at your to-do list. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll find that many things really don’t have to be done right now or don’t have to be done by you. Could you ask someone else to pick up the milk on the way home? Could some of your errands wait until another day? Whatever time you free up, use it to do something that will restore you and reduce stress, like going for a walk or sitting and relaxing with a cup of tea.



To-do list photograph by Rob Warde showing one way to slow down

Photo credit: Rob Warde

Related: How To Unwind From Work In The Evening 

4) Create a Slow Down Routine

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, it may be because you don’t take the time to properly transition from your busy day into bedtime. Half an hour before bed, turn the lights down and the screens (TV, phone, tablet) off. Create a wind-down routine for yourself, such as making yourself a cup of tea or doing some relaxing yoga poses. I listen to instrumental lullaby music as I wash my face and prepare for bed. What might work for you?

Practice finding small islands of time for yourself throughout your day, whenever you can. You’ll feel so much better, and you’ll sleep better too. Let us know how you get on with trying to slow down in the comments section.