On Slowing Down

By Jess
1 Aug 2022

Today is my first day “back” after a month off of Instagram. This post is definitely not about that experience (I’m still processing that), but it’s related to much of what I’ve felt being off of social media. Anyone else have a hard time slowing down? Like even when you try to take a break, you’re still multi-tasking or thinking about a million things or feeling guilty for trying to slow down. Taking a month off of social media made me more aware of my behaviors, impulses and feelings. And I also noticed over time I felt less pressure to go, go, go.

On Slowing Down

It feels like I blinked and it’s August 1st. There’s less than a month of summer left (not technical summer but before school starts summer). I’ve probably been more present in my day to day life this summer than I have in years (embarrassed to admit that). Not only have I been off of social media but I’ve made an effort to slow down. It’s not easy. Society will tell you if you’re slowing down, you’re falling behind. You have to hustle. Multi-task. Don’t miss out. Even having fun turns into a rush to fit it all in.

And it makes sense. We live in a country that runs on capitalism, with no guaranteed paid sick leave, no paid vacation, no paid maternity leave, and no universal healthcare. How can anyone focus on slowing down when our society is telling us to hurry up. “No days off,” right?

Truth be told it wasn’t until I slowed down that I noticed all the things I was missing out on. The little details, the seemingly mundane. The stillness and the quiet. It also wasn’t until I slowed down that I realized how tired my mind has been. In slowing down I found clarity, boredom, curiosity, connection, and even fear. Who am I and what is my worth if I’m not doing or creating something?

Slowing down is a practice and one that takes effort. I am still unlearning the idea that I must always be busy, working, productive. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the last month it’s that time goes by fast no matter what we do with it. At whatever pace it goes, slowing down can be time well spent.


Quotes on Slowing Down

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Lao Tzu

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

“We may feel productive when we’re constantly switching between things, constantly doing something, but in all honesty, we’re not. We’re just distracted.”

Leo Babauta
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16 Comments

  1. There is so much power in slowing down, and I so appreciate this post. I saw a quote the other day stating something along the lines of, “I always dream of summer, but it is never quite as magical as I imagine.” Especially in New England, I think there are many that have this toxic, non-realistic “Nantucket dream” and although they may live in a beautiful area, they’re in this denial that it will never be as magical as a “true” New England summer (ie: in a mansion, on an island.) Everyone is in a rush to rent the best beach house, everyone is in a rush to make day trips to beach towns, etc. If we could all slow down and appreciate our local farmers markets, nights spent indoors watching movies because it’s too hot outside, or even just a casual stroll around your neighborhood drinking your morning coffee, I think there would be less pressure & less “rushing.” Oh, I could go on about this for hours (as I’m sure you could) but wow, I really just loved this post.

    8.1.22 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Courtney you have totally captured the magic of slowing down. YES to all of this. So much of our summer has been neighborhood walks, hanging out at home on the deck, strolling through the farmer’s market. Simple, easy, unfussy. It has been glorious! Could not agree more with what you’ve said.

      8.1.22 | Reply
  2. Kelly wrote:

    I agree, it’s hard to force yourself to slow down. We are currently on vacation in a beautiful home with two other families on the coast, and we had a yoga instructor come for a class today. It was super slow and relaxing. At first, I was annoyed – it wasn’t the workout I was looking for. I realized had to completely change my mindset and tell myself: I need to relax. That’s why we are here. This can be slow and easy and still be great.

    8.1.22 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      I definitely am constantly checking myself and my mindset. It’s nice when you can do it in the moment and experience something for the better. Thanks for sharing Kelly.

      8.3.22 | Reply
  3. Lauren wrote:

    This was great. It reminds me of something my therapist suggested: purposelessness. We feel that everything we do has to be productive and put so much pressure on ourselves to go go go. Even going for a walk is to make sure you get enough exercise or walk the dogs. But what about strolling around just because it’s a nice day and you feel like it? It’s not always easy to remember, but I’ve been trying to do things that are fun with no other motive and it’s been helpful! Also gotten me out of my comfort zone and tried new things. It just takes so much time to unlearn past ingrained behaviors and ignore societal pressures around hustling.

    8.1.22 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Oh wow I love thinking about it like that. I am definitely guilty of assigning productivity and “purpose” to everything. But yeah going for a walk because it’s a nice day and I feel like it. That sounds great! I really like the idea of less pressure and things just for fun. Sounds easy but I know it can be hard in practice. Thanks for sharing.

      8.1.22 | Reply
  4. Becca wrote:

    I relate to this SO much! I always feel better when I’m forced to slow down (eg camping or on a boat with zero cell phone service) but I find it so hard to do in my day-to-day life. Continuing the journey of trying to do a little more each day/week/month

    8.1.22 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      So true! Usually the best times are when I forget my phone or leave it at home. The forced separation is good for the mind and soul.

      8.1.22 | Reply
  5. Kristina Hayes wrote:

    It so strange to me that I have seriously slowed down since having my first child in February. He will be 6 months old tomorrow and I have never had so much “rest” ever before this new chapter of life. I was always go go go, new adventures, things to do, people to see, schedules & time to stick by. Now we get there when we get there. We nap. We take milk breaks. We just sit outside and watch the birds. I has been absolutely wonderful to have a total mental shift in what is important right now. I know this chapter will pass soon and I will be chasing a toddler, but for now I am enjoying the simple moments with my baby.

    8.1.22 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      That’s amazing Kristina. I love that motherhood has helped you with that shift. Enjoy those simple moments it goes by so fast.

      8.3.22 | Reply
  6. Christina wrote:

    Dalai Lama said….if you are in a hurry then take a detour. In other words stop and smell the roses as was also a phrase when I was growing up. Yes learning to slow down and concentrate on 1 thing has become very challenging in this day and age. I had to learn the hard way to slow down but I did and life is so much sweeter this way. You don’t always have to be productive or creative or multi tasking. You have started your journey this past July. Keep going. Enjoy your beautiful child. They grow up so fast and you never get the chance to relive missed opportunities. Enjoy your family, be your own best friend. Your loved ones are the most important people in your life. Everything else can wait it’s turn. Have a wonderful start in August

    8.1.22 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      That is for sure. Time is flying by. Thanks Christina.

      8.3.22 | Reply
  7. Shelby wrote:

    First of all so many claps for taking a whole month off IG and planning to get off the app entirely. I’m continuously drawn to your content as it is a fresh of breath air amongst the noise. I recently took a 3 month break from IG myself as an experiment and am now trying to navigate what to do. It feels like there is no middle option when it comes to social media and I can’t wait to read about all of your thoughts from your break. Thank you and keep up the inspiring work!

    8.1.22 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Thanks Shelby. Honestly I hear you on that. When I opened the app to go back on after my break it was like my brain couldn’t handle it anymore. Wild. Looking forward to chatting more about navigating social media for work and personal use.

      8.3.22 | Reply
  8. Kristina wrote:

    Love your thoughts on that – so true and it is really hard to slow down, I fully agree. But it is worth every effort I guess 🙂 Thanks for sharing…

    8.3.22 | Reply
  9. Susannah wrote:

    Hi Jess,

    I’ve been thinking a lot about not using social media and appreciate your thoughts on this.
    As someone who connects their community and business through these methods, I am curious how you are connecting with your clients and global community if you are not using IG and FB.

    I do find that even though I go to these sites to connect with specific groups I can get lost scrolling and so am considering leaving all together.

    Thanks as always for you truthful insights.
    Susannah

    8.7.22 | Reply