zen habits : breathe

Slow Down and Enjoy Relationships

I keep my time saved in a box
From going fast in cars
I’ve piled it up high
From saying hello to friends with a quick goodbye
~Kathryn Williams, Flicker

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Corey Allan of Simple Marriage.

The world is seemingly moving at a faster pace. Everywhere you turn, the pace is quick. Deadlines are moved up, workload is increased, kid’s schedules are packed, to-do lists are long, housework never ends – it’s chaos.

At least it feels this way.

Has the world really sped up? Are there more things happening today than 50 years ago? No, and no.

Some things around us may involve more pressure and feel like it’s moving faster, but many times it only feels this way. Thanks to the Internet and cable we hear about everything that happens, immediately.

Our interconnectedness through technology has helped create the illusion of a faster paced world. It’s also created the illusion of less loneliness and isolation – but there’s nothing that can replace real life connections with other people. Physical contact and interaction is vital.

This loss of contact and the perceived pace of the world produces a feeling of chronic anxiousness and a decrease in the ability to find pleasure in some of the simple things.

Honestly, when was the last time you stopped and took in the smell of fresh baked bread? Or colored with crayons? Or walked barefoot in the grass? Or took a few minutes to just breathe?

No where is the impact of our pace felt more than in marriage and family. It’s extremely difficult to move hurriedly through your day and then slow down enough to enjoy your family or your spouse in the evening.

Some of the reasons marriage and family relationships go through sour patches is the squeezing they get from our schedules, disconnection, and pace. It’s easy to get caught up in other things and have the immediate outweigh the important.

To reverse this, here’s a few ideas to try:

Start small.
No change in life is easy or comfortable. Working to let go of the pace around you and creating your own speed takes time and should be attempted in small, incremental steps. Begin by giving yourself permission to slow down. This may seem like a no brainer, but many people believe they don’t have permission to slow down. You do. Whenever life seems to move too fast, take a deep breathe. Three to five slow, deep breaths will slow everything down.

Leave the office.
And I mean leave the office. Shut off all projects, messages, emails, phone calls and conversations and leave the office at the end of the day. Most everything can wait until the next day, so leave it alone until then. As an added help, create a routine to help you disengage from the office on the way home. Walk down the stairs slowly rather than taking the elevator. Drive down tree lined streets rather than the interstate. Walk or bike home from work if possible. Listen to good music while on the train or bus. Stop by the gym for a workout. No matter which way you transition from work to home, make it intentional. Breathe. Relax. Breathe. Let work go. Then walk through the door to your home and enjoy time with those you love.

Turn off all electronic gadgets.
This one is simple. Turn off the phone. The Internet. The television. Spend time talking, playing games, take a walk outside. The point is, unplug and connect with other humans.

Be 100% present.
This is tough at times. But it also is a source of increased tension in life. When I’m with my kids and have other things on my mind, my kids become a pest and source of frustration – at least that’s the way it plays out. When I’ve got work on my mind, my son’s request to play cars is an annoyance rather than an invitation into the world of imaginative play with my child. Whatever you are doing, focus on being 100% present. Multitasking is impossible anyway. Focus on doing one thing at a time and being 100% present while doing it.

Take a walk.
Make it a priority to walk with your spouse and your kids each day. There’s tremendous benefit to being out in nature, even if it’s nature in the city. Want a sure-fire way to improve your marriage? Walk and talk with your spouse at least 30 minutes a day.

Eat outside.
There’s something great about being in nature. There’s something even greater about sharing a meal with others outside. Head to the park for a picnic, eat on the patio at home or restaurants.

Prepare for your day.
Spend a moment at the end of your day preparing for the next day. Pick out clothes, make lunches, talk with your spouse. Then in the morning, before you jump into your day, take some time a simply sit quietly. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Breathe slowly, meditate, pray. What a great way to start each day.

Corey is the editor of Simple Marriage a site filled with laid back information that will make your relationships better. You can subscribe via rss or email.



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