This season of retreating light and advancing cold invites us to step down a gear. Autumn is a time to slow down. The leaves fall to the ground around us: the trees know it’s time to let go. To hunker down and save energy for times of new growth.
Our own personal seasons don’t have to copy the trees exactly. We don’t have to spend all of autumn and winter lying low, in a state of snooze. But we do need to honour ourselves, and recognise our own call to go slow.
I know I’m feeling it in my bones that I can’t just keep going full tilt, all the time. I suspect I’m not alone. My body is telling me it’s had enough, that not everything has to happen right now, that time spent in stillness and quiet is just as vital as time spent busily doing.
So often we think how nice it would be to slow down – to step off the world and the commitments it throws at us for a little while. But it just doesn’t feel possible. So here I offer three practical ways to slow down. Actions that are within my grasp, and yours.
1. Let go of shoulds
I’m not going to pretend the daily grind just stops when we’d like it to. In my own life I still need to get the children to school, and to football (so much of my life is spent standing on the sides of freezing pitches, wishing I was elsewhere!). People still need to be fed, bills still need to be paid, work still needs to be done.
This is all true. And, yet, I know for myself that there are some things I do because I feel like I ought to. Things like post on social media for my business. Or take the children into town for a treasure hunt (even though they’re not desperate to). Or do some new training .
None of these tasks are bad, in themselves. They are often enjoyable! But they become a burden when I’m driven by the ‘should’. So I am trying to form a habit of checking in with myself before planning something new. Am I doing this because I want to, or because I should? And if I’m doing it because I should, do I really need to? And if I need to, can I make it as simple as possible?
2. Go outside
I had to include this one because it’s so simple, and so helpful. Whenever I’m feeling frazzled I try to get outside. Even if it’s just for three minutes in the garden with a cup of tea. Even if it’s raining. Even better if it’s for a 20 minute walk.
It’s not a miracle cure, it doesn’t make all my problems disappear. But it does give me a chance to reset and refresh. And, usually, it’s enough to help me feel a bit less overwhelmed. For the world to feel as though it’s coming at me in a slightly less aggressive manner.
3. Book a massage or reflexology session
Of course, I had to talk about this! But not just because it’s my job. Before I started my own practice I booked a monthly massage for myself, for years. And it’s not an exaggeration to say I needed it.
I’m sure I would have survived the early years with my two boys without my regular massage, just about. But I would have been a lot more frayed at the edges. A lot less me.
For me, there is something uniquely special about stopping and experiencing the benefit of therapeutic touch. Something no other relaxing activity can offer. That session on the couch really lets me drop into my body, without even thinking about it.
It’s one time where there are zero demands on me. I don’t have to do or be anything. I just have to lie there and let it happen. And that frees my mind up. To relax, properly.
And when that happens, my body starts to speak. It quietly lets me know where I’ve been holding onto emotional hurt. Where I’ve been coiled, ready for action, despite the fact there’s no sabre-toothed tiger around the corner.
That little slice of respite carries over into the rest of my day and week. It gives my body time to recalibrate. I feel calmer, and there is power in the calm. It’s not only a nice feeling to have – it seeps into how I approach my life. My massage (and, more recently, reflexology) sessions enable me to make calmer, wiser choices as I negotiate the hustle and bustle of life.
So there you have it. An invitation to be inspired by the trees, and honour the call to slow down whenever you hear it.
I’d love to be part of your slowing down. To book a massage or reflexology session with me, simply get in touch here.