Many areas of our lives are fast-paced; as a result, individuals feel chronically stressed. A body in constant pressure mode breaks down; suddenly a person becomes physically ill, or chronic worry develops into severe anxiety, where your body’s alarm system just won’t turn off. When this happens, a professional counselor can assist someone with learning skills for slowing down. A person does not have to become the stereotypical image of a serene Tibetan monk who meditates in order to reduce their anxiety. It is possible to teach our brains to slow down, or better yet, occasionally just PAUSE. Our brains adapt to the experiences they encounter and can learn from a few frequently practiced habits that give your body a chance to catch up. One way is to notice how your body is reacting to input around it. At night, take a moment to close your eyes and notice how different parts of your body feel.
As we take time to notice things, it helps to pay attention to signals our bodies may be giving us that it needs to slow down. This is hard for performance driven individuals and particularly difficult for a person who feels stressed out, in a hurry, pressured to get things done, and in general, always trying to catch up and often worried. For those individuals, and others, slowing down becomes another thing on the to-do list! That is not how you want to approach improving your mental and physical health. At my practice, Dawning Phoenix, counseling clients are encouraged to slow down, even just temporarily PAUSE, for their own benefit, and often for the benefit of their relationships (including work relationships). Start small and pick one thing that may help you pause in the midst of all the busyness. Take 3 deep breaths at a red light. Turn off your cell phone for 30 minutesduring the day or an hour before bed and leave it off until after you’ve been awake for 30 minutes the following morning. If you use your phone for an alarm or for music, consider more traditional alternatives (drag out that alarm clock in a dresser or an old boom box in a closet somewhere or buy one secondhand at a store like Goodwill). Lastly, take the time to enjoy a meal without rushing. It is simply a short PAUSE: sit down, eat slowly, and chew your food, savoring the flavor. This is considered a mindfulness technique. For more on anxiety, consider our anxiety management support group that meets bi-weekly (http://dawningphoenix.com/services/group-counseling/), and for tips on eating slowly for your health, see http://tipsonlivinghealthy.com/chew-your-way-to-better-health/