Go slow for less stress

Summer is a lazy season, rarely imbued with any sense of urgency. My suggestion is that this year you hold on to that slow feeling straight through until Christmas.

Why go slow? Because it could make you more productive, less stressed and potentially, much happier.

Carl Honore wrote In Praise of Slowness, when he found himself reaching for a book entitled One-minute Bedroom Stories and realised that his “rushaholism had got to the stage where I was trying to speed up even those precious moments with my son at the end of the day”.

Who can’t relate to that?

Personally, I get a little panicky at the thought of slowing down, a sure sign that I need to slow down more than most. Here are the questions I ask myself when my life is speeding up to frantic levels.

In the last week, have you:

● Eaten a meal walking or standing up?

● Repeatedly pressed the button on the lift even when you know it doesn’t make any difference?

● Walked up or down the escalator because you just can’t wait?

● Eaten al desko (at your desk)?

● Fallen asleep over dinner or while commuting?

● Broken the speed limit?

● Packed most of your down-time with activities or chores that you just “have” to do?

Answered “yes” to any of these? Carl Honore’s conclusion on our need to speed may give you pause, as it did me: “Our obsession with speed is taking a terrible toll on our work, health, relationships and sex lives.

The good news is that more people around the world are resisting the pressure to do everything in a hurry and by slowing down are living richer, fuller lives.”

So keep that summer feeling – take time to chat to a stranger, cook a meal from scratch, have a long bath, lift the phone and have a leisurely chat to an old friend, switch off your mobile or take off your wristwatch, simply sit quietly, doing absolutely nothing.

I don’t think it’s easy for speed freaks like me, but it might just give us back our lives.

Elisabeth Wilson is a counsellor and psychotherapist and author of Slow Down, (Infinite Ideas, £17.99)

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