Living Life in the Fast Lane
The modern hectic lifestyle has unquestionably become part of dominant culture in today’s developing nations and the rapid pace at which our lives are programmed is not likely to ease any time in the future. We live in a world of fast food, fast cars, express checkouts, 3-hour express shipping, fast holidays, fast- conversation and speed-dating. Our frantic lifestyle reflects our culture’s unspoken message that “speed is better”. Conversely we are told that to live at a slower pace we must sacrifice achievement. By maintaining a 24/7 lifestyle, busily going from one activity to another, we are convinced that the quality of our lives are improving by fitting more into our day, but is it really?
Never before has the prevalence of chronic stress, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders been so high, as well as physical illness. The hectic pace at which we live our lives is clearly at the cost of our psychological and physical health. More than ever people are reporting a sense of feeling disconnected with their lives, never truly enjoying each moment; we are sacrificing depth and enjoyment for speed, and feel overwhelmed about our lives.
Another aspect of our lives that are taking a hit is our relationships. We do not allow time to cultivate meaningful connections with others, which is known to make us happy. Clearly, the detrimental effects on our health are sending the message that people were not designed for this rapidly paced lifestyle. We are designed to function at a rapid pace when needed, however a period of rest and recovery in “cruise mode” should follow; however we are ignoring this innate way of functioning.
The Rise of the “Slow Living” Movement
If you are feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the turbo setting your life has been set at, you are not alone. An alternative lifestyle has been created by people who wish to connect with their experiences on a deeper sensory level again, who value their health and quality, rather than quantity of their experiences. The slow movement was created by an Italian Carlo Petrini in the 1980’s in response to the opening of a McDonald’s on the Spanish Steps in Rome, which was intended to challenge the fast food phenomena.
The slow movement is a way of connecting with things that bring people meaning and happiness in life such as people, places and food. The movement is not anti-ambition, achievement, work or capitalism, rather it is about doing things at the right speed and depth, striking a balance between rapid pace and cruising. The movement strikes parallels with the practice of mindfulness, which is about living in the present moment, placing an emphasis on the immediate sensory experience as a way to connect with life, which leads to greater satisfaction and has evidence of reducing stress and symptoms of psychological disorders such as depression. The movement includes, “slow travel”, “slow cities”, “slow food”, “slow schools” and “slow money”, as well as “slow living” on a day-to-day basis.
Suggestions for Slowing Down
- Breathe, If you are feeling stressed, frenzied and frantic at times throughout the day, stopping and breathing deeply functions to slow your heart rate and aids in relaxation
- Slow thinking, allow time for slow thoughts and idleness. Try and slow down the rapid internal chatter that often clouds our minds.
- Monitor Speed, think critically about whether or not the task at hand requires a rapid speed or not. If you find yourself working unnecessarily fast, try and bring things back to a slower pace.
- Allow for more breathing space between activities, we often go from one task to another without a break in between and do not allow ourselves to collect ourselves properly. Allow for 15 minutes of free time between tasks if you usually only allow 5 minutes. You will find you are less stressed and your day feels less chaotic.
- Schedule time in your week to do nothing, it is important to recollect yourself after a hectic week. We need time to relax and unwind otherwise we risk burnout and experience unhealthy levels of stress.
Article By: Vision Counselling and Psychology, Perth, Western Australia
Web Address: www.visioncounselling.com.au
Published: 27/12/2015 “Mindful Living”, (Slow Movement), Available: http://www.slowmovement.com (Accessed: 2014, December 03).
“Hurry Up and Slow Down”, Andrew May (The Sydney Morning Herald), Available: http://www.smh.com.au (Accessed: 2014, December 03).
“How to Beat the Virus of Hurry”, Jacqueline Forster (The Slow Magazine), Available: http://www.slowmagazine.com.au (Accessed: 2014, December 03).
Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club