The Importance of Slowing Down
The end of the year is often the busiest time of the year. Your days start flying by, weekends begin feeling shorter, and your time seems to vanish. Our bodies are always on the go and our minds always racing — and while our bodies and minds are telling us to slow down, society is telling us to go, go, go. Being told to be faster, more efficient, and more productive leads to the personal belief that we’re doing things well because we are always working.
But cramming as many things as we can to get more accomplished in a day is not beneficial. It actually only increases your chances of being stressed. Forty-three percent of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress because when you are stressed, your body triggers a “fight or flight” response — your heart rate rises, you become short of breath, and your body starts working to prepare for an emergency.
If your body does this for extended periods of time, it negatively affects your physical and mental health and can cause headaches, high blood pressure, anxiety and increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.
That is why it is time to slow down — the “rise and grind” mentality that our society has cultivated is only sustainable if you still take the time to slow down and focus on self-care.
Slowing down is crucial for living a healthy and balanced life. Whether it’s a quality night’s sleep or quick rest after a hard workout, the mind and body need time to recharge and recover, not only at the end of our day but throughout our day as well. Too many of us put our health on the backburner when we are busy — neglecting this vital time that keeps our bodies healthy.
When that stress response keeps firing, your muscles tense up and don’t get a chance to relax. Over time, this can start an unhealthy cycle as you are in pain and lose motivation or the ability to exercise. Instead of stressing because of an overloaded schedule and slowly burning yourself out, rethink how you work out and recover.
In times of high stress, balance is the key. If you are regularly working out, try an active recovery day focused around low-impact workouts. Yoga and resistance band training are two great ways to provide movement and circulation to your muscles so they can actively repair themselves and help flush out waste that builds up during exercise. These quick, low-impact forms of workouts are perfect for staying active on a tight schedule so you can stop stressing about spending hours at the gym.
Take a break
Some days you might just need to take a day off from your training, but even on these days, you can be proactive about allowing your body to relax and repair. Scheduling breaks throughout your day is essential. By scheduling time for yourself to proactively take care of your body — even just 10 minutes — to take a walk, disconnect from your devices, or even just sitting still, you will help relieve stress, bring clarity to your mind, and ease strains on your body.
Remember that you shouldn’t add extra stress and pressure to your already busy schedule, and you don’t have to beat yourself up over not spending hours a day, every day working out. There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off completely. Just be sure to listen to your body and give it a break when it needs one.
Everyone experiences stress, the key is how we deal with and manage that stress. Instead of perpetuating the stress cycle, break the cycle — slow down.