Slow September has taught me a great deal about time; the value of it, the way in which I perceive it and how I spend it. The experiment of slowing down this month has brought to light areas of slow living that I plan to take with me and put into practice, it has also revealed my weak spots and the places where I carry too much stress and become 'full of care'. In another way, I have also seen the trendy 'slow living' side of this popular lifestyle hash tag, and the pressures and comparisons it can place on you, especially when it is linked to having a neat, ordered and Instagram filtered life.
As I move into the rest of the year I will take these lessons from slow September with me:
Being kind to myself - I put too much pressure on myself to always be switched on, getting things done and this leads to stress, tension, overwhelm and a feeling of resentment. Being kind to myself means I do not take on extra activities, chores or responsibilities, I delegate what I can and know that I am doing my best in any given situation. When I am kinder to myself, I am kinder to others and everyone benefits from me slowing down.
Saying no, particularly to myself - I make lists, pile on the expectations and put additional work into my day because I want to be either a) the helper, b) the achiever or c) the perfectionist. Seeing this, and saying no to putting on another load of washing or rushing to the shops or dropping off something to a friend because I have 10 minutes to spare is an important way of protecting my boundaries and being realistic with my time.
Saving spare time - I have realised that time is like savings in the bank, you can store it up for intentional use, or you can fritter it away on unnecessary 'things'. I have realised this month that both my time and money can be honoured, saved and invested more wisely if I am intentional about how I use them and put appropriate boundaries in place. Thinking about how I spend my time (and money) and being in charge of it, directing it with clear focus is a surprising realisation from slowing down this month.
Doing less does not mean I am less - how much I do in the time I have is not a reflection of my worth. Also comparing how much I do to other people is a complete waste of my emotional energy and time. Focusing on what I can and want to achieve each day, without looking at others is something I have to work on, knowing I am good enough in myself and for my family is all that really matters.
What have you learnt by slowing down? I'd love to know in the comments below or on my Instagram feed @iamsarahalexcarter I am looking forward to carrying the lessons slow September has taught me into the rest of the year and beyond, there is always room for improvement, but being aware of how I spend and use my time is key. Knowing why I use my time in the way I do and how it can be beneficial is a good start on the path to a slower and more mindful life.