In Praise of Slowness…de-stressing life

“It’s one thing to say you’re going to slow down, but a slow hobby helps you put those words into practice.” says author of  “In Praise of Slowness”, Carl Honore.

1.  A slow hobby– like painting,  photography, reading, gardening, tai qi and swimming, can act as a brake on your hectic pace.  “Slow hobbies, help you cultivate the lost art of concentration and being in the moment.  They have a meditative quality to them, and that calming effect goes beyond the act itself.  Maintaining that inner stillness enables you to negotiate the fast moving waters of the rest of your day.”

2. Become a gardener– caring for flowering plants may help you relax and get grounded.  Japanese researchers found that re-potting plants lowered fatigue and promoted physiological relaxation.  They also found that working with flowers seemed to have an even stronger positive effect than working with nonflowering plants.  Even just looking at flowers and a green garden, can reduce blood pressure, increase concentration, productivity, and help you recover from illness.  It also shortens postoperative hospital stays, with less need for pain meds.

3. Practice slow yoga– it emphasizes drawn-out breath,  for each movement you make. Like tai chi, it uses many repetitive flowing moves, creating more awareness between mind and body.  Swimming not only elongates and releases our muscles but also increases endorphins which uplift us.

4. Take a nap– a Harvard study found that people who regularly napped at least three times a week for an average of 30 minutes,  had a 37 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who didn’t nap.  It also boosts serotonin, which may lead to improved memory and performance, and weight loss.

5. Do one thing at a time– alot of us believe we get more done by multitasking.  But research at the University of Michigan shows that the opposite is true.  “If you concentrate on one task at a time, you get more done faster and make fewer mistakes.”  Taking on chores one at a time reduces chronic stress and protects your short-term memory, which comes under fire if the brain is overtaxed.

6. Meditation– teaches us to focus.  All day your mind is chattering and when you meditate, you can hear your own inner wisdom and breath.  Studies have shown that practicing meditation and breathing improves blood pressure, can help reduce chronic pain, enhances mental clarity, fortifies the immune system, and promotes a sense of well-being.

One of my favorite guided meditation CD’s are by Jon Kabat-Zinn :  Guided mindfulness meditation (it includes 4 CD’s, seated meditation, 2 yoga cd’s and the one I use the most-Body scan meditation:  Using the breath, he guides your attention thru the entire body)