The other weekend, I woke with a particular feeling. I just needed to take it slow that day. And so, that is what I did. Instead of going for a run at my usual spot, I walked, slowly, breathing deeply with my steps. I was struck with how right it felt for what I needed in that moment. My slow walk set the pace for the day, and inspired further slow paced activities.
There is much that has been written on the fast pace of our lives these days. And naturally, we do not always have the opportunity to take it slow. However, it is worth considering how we might consciously try to find moments to slow things down. As written in Sarah Wilson’s book “First we make the beast beautiful: a new story about anxiety”, it has been suggested that a big part of modern society’s stress comes from having so much of our life occurring at a speed that our bodies are not aligned with. That is, that we are out of sync from how we were originally designed to live.
Wilson quotes research that shows that mindful breathing while walking appears to be particularly helpful to reduce anxiety, in quietening our thoughts and providing an outlet for stress hormones. It keeps us present. This might look something like breathing in for three steps, and out for four steps, focusing on drawing energy up from the ground through your feet to the top of your head as you breathe in, and pushing energy back through your body into the earth as you breathe out. Walking though, is not the only way we can slow ourselves down. We can cook things from scratch, we can do slow yoga, we can hand-write, we can build something with our hands. Or we can simply block out some unscheduled time. Think about treating it as an experiment, and observe what the process is like for you.
DClinPsych/MSc, BPsych (Hons)
Registered Clinical Psychologist