5 Unexpected Benefits of Slowing Down
When you are an Extremely Busy Person and live on the fast line, sometimes life got to stop you before you derail. It’s probably what happened to me.
When I wrote down my intention and goals for 2019, I was far from imagining what the first trimester of the year would bring.
Things started in a fantastic way. I went on holidays to Lisbon. It was awesome and I enjoyed spending time with family and friends.
I returned to London fully motivated to invest more time in Self Care. Being on holidays had shown me how exhausted and in need of rest I was. I slept sometimes 16 hours straight because my body was presenting me the bill of an intense Christmas season at work.
Little did I knew that my wish for more down time would be granted but, not in the way I imagined.
Weeks after holidays, I sprained my ankle and knee. I had to stay almost out of action for about two months out of action and at some point could only walk with the help of a lovely crutch which I baptised with the name of Mila. Please don’t ask me why, because It just came up like that.
For a person like me who leads an action-packed lifestyle and take pride in being agile, it was hard, frustrating and sometimes very lonely to be locked up at home. Moreover, experiencing pain was something I would totally skip if I could.
Now, I am getting better with the help of physiotherapy and can already walk and have been returning to active life slowly.
Despite the initial challenges, when looking back, I can find a silver lining in the past months.
Here are my golden nuggets of being forced to slow down. Number 4 is definitely my favourite:
#1 -It reminds you that you are just human
When you are healthy and able there is this tendency to feel like we can do anything and push harder. Even when pain strikes, the message that most of us take from it is: "no pain, no gain".
Going through immense pain made me respect my body more and more. I realised that pain is a signal that you need to pack up and help the body find some relief.
In the beginning of my injury, me a person who used to be unable to take a tablet without behaving like a 5 years old, I befriended pain killers quickly and could totally understand why they can become addictive.
When you are experiencing strong pain, you end up learning when to take painkillers. Sometimes beforehand, just in case the pain strikes badly and it’s too late. Some days, I felt almost like a Pavlov dog.
Now, when I feel pain. I acknowledge it, stop and do what I can to relieve it. It’s ok to be sensitive and vulnerable.
#2-It shows you what matters
Sometimes we get so entangled with our roles and responsibilities that life becomes a non-ending list of tasks to complete.
When you are unable to perform the most mundane of the tasks such as walking or going up the stairs without holding onto something, you start seeing the value of so many simple things.
When I am in shape, I am on top of my game. I can run to catch the bus, carry plenty shopping bags, cycle wherever I want and sometimes even dance for fun. suddenly all this was temporarily on hold.
I could notice myself looking at people running, cycling or swimming and feeling a sense of nostalgia. I thought of times when I was too lazy to do any of these activities and regretted it badly. I even felt envy towards people running past me.
I made a conscious decision to tune into gratitude. It reminded me that despite being unable to walk properly, my situation was a temporary one. There are so many people out there who face much more challenging disabilities and they seem to find a way to enjoy life regardless of their circumstances.
This was also an opportunity to appreciate so many things I took for granted - being able to get dressed or have a shower quickly and most important, to show empathy and kindness towards others. I notice the people who gave me seat on the bus, hold the lift and doors for me or help me reach for top shelf items at the supermarket. It was a little thing, but every little helped.
#3-It shows you who matters
My job and lifestyle allows me to interact with hundreds of people. I end up becoming familiar and spending more time with people in work and social settings than with my loved ones.
I pretty much run the risk of confusing good interactions with connections all the time. However, I have been learning that just because we see people all the time doesn't mean that there is a meaningful connection. Sometimes the relationship is just part of the setting we find ourselves in.
A connection can only become meaningful when we look at the people we interact with as worthy of our interest even when they are no longer present or "useful" to us.
2Pac used to say that you will know who your real friends are when you are about to get evicted. I say that you will know the quality of your connection with the people around you when you stop showing up one day. Who is going text, call or even notice that you didn't show up?
I have been lucky to have an awesome family and very good friends. During this period they have showed up for me every single day. Some accompanied me to appointments, cooked for me, checked on me on a daily basis and kept me company on the days when I was grumpy and miserable. I am deeply grateful for all the love I have received.
Surprisingly, I also received kindness from places I didn't expect. I was blown away, because some of the people weren’t people I interacted with that much.
#4- It allows you to reconnect with yourself and your passions
Being at home for two months proved challenging at first. However, over time, it presented an opportunity to re-examine my life and take some small actions.
The gift of free time proved to be amazing:
I organised my paperwork
Watched and re-watched my favourite series
Worked on this website
Read all the books I had read only halfway through
More important, I realised how much I missed spending time at home chilling and doing simple things such as cooking or soaking up the sun. I am also rediscovering the joys of drawing and painting.
Ps- I graduated the Food Academy cum laude - a posh way to say with distinction. My final project wasn’t the winner, but I was very proud of myself and maybe one day I will bring the concept I presented alive.
#5- You gain a bit more clarity around your purpose
Sometimes, I experienced high levels of anxiety. There were days where I felt that my body and mind were under attack.
I go around teaching others how to increase their wellbeing and suddenly here I am facing the same challenges. I had to constantly remind myself to use the tools of trade.
The first step was to mitigate or eliminate any source of stress possible. Self Care was at the core of everything I did in my everyday. I was more aware of my body and when I started feeling restless, I would just notice my body and take long equalising breaths.
As I was going through all this, I started thinking about so many people who struggle with anxiety and it breaks my heart to think that some might not event have the tools to help themselves calm down and relax. This prompted me to bring back to life the Wellbeing & Lifestyle activities open to the community.
I have partnered with The Canvas Cafe to use their Community Hub. They were generous to allow me to use their venue for free. I just had to make a donation by paying a meal for a homeless person.
I wanted to do it long time ago, but I have always came up with reasons as to why the time wasn’t right. I have to thank this injury to get me moving.
You can join these events. Most of them are free or donation based.
That’s all from me folks.
We all know that life sometimes sucks and it would be much easier if everything just goes the way we wish and expect.
Sometimes we might be forced to slow down. However, this might bring many benefits along the way.
See you soon.
Feel Good > Enjoy life