Are you catching up or catching on?

“I am just trying to get caught up.” That’s what my friend told me one morning when I asked her how she was doing. “Caught up to what?” I said. She looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face, cocked her head to one side and raised her eyebrows as if to ask “What are you on about?”

We are all guilty of it—trying to catch up—whatever that means!  It’s ironic that in modern times technology is continually being invented to save time yet we use that time to do more and more things and end up feeling that we are already somehow inexplicably “behind” before we get out of bed. As we rush headlong into the day to get “caught up” we invariably feel we never manage to accomplish all we want to do. Our human body is trying to make sense of it all but failing miserably because our heart struggles to find some way to keep pace and it is constantly trying to “get caught up” to the speed of the mind, to the speed of the world. Something has to give.

The recession may have slowed us down a tad but the frantic pace of the world is still hurtling by at lightning speed. The fast life is all around us – fast food, fast cars, fast conversations, fast families, fast holidays, and fast quick fixes to everything including your health. The thing is the biological costs of ignoring stress are staggering, manifesting in cardiovascular and other systemic diseases including accelerated aging. The psychological costs are equally large with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other emotional illnesses associated with unmanaged stress.

How about trying to “catch up” to something more soothing, peaceful, and nourishing than this frantic, desperate, questing pursuit of everything. Let slow be your new fast before you succumb to the myriad of health conditions that are a result of leading fast, stressful lives. Do yourself and your heart a favour. Make a conscious choice to:

1. Do less. Instead of more, focus on what is really important, what really needs to be done, and let go of the rest. Put space between tasks and appointments, so you can move through your days at a more leisurely pace.

3. Disconnect. Go off line. Leave your phone behind. Go outside and enjoy the serenity of water and greenery. Try to do this daily — by yourself or with loved ones.

4. Drive slower. Make it a habit to slow down when you drive. Appreciate your surroundings. Driving will be more enjoyable, and much safer. You’ll use less fuel too.

5. Breathe. By fully focusing on each breath, you bring yourself back to the present, and slow yourself down.

For a while now slow is my new fast. I have found when I discipline myself to go slow I enjoy more. Slowing down is a conscious choice, and not always an easy one, but it leads to a greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness. It doesn’t mean you put the tools down and have no goals or activity in your life. If anything, I have accomplished more with slow and steady than fast and frantic. Instead of racing round like a manic monkey you will become more relaxed, more focused and more available for yourself and others. Pushing faster through the gauntlet of a ‘to do’ list doesn’t necessarily mean we get more done. In fact, the more you try to ‘catch up’ in life, the less you address the things that really matter and in the end you may never catch up to anything.

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