This morning, on my way into clinic, I witnessed a young lady in her mid-20’s being knocked off her feet by a cyclist. The cyclist hadn’t jumped a traffic light, nor was he cycling on the pavement. The lady, presumably on her way into work, was in such a rush that she chose not to wait for the lights to change at the junction and attempted to cross the busy road while the traffic was moving. A handful of city-workers helped her to her feet, the cyclist apologised, and everyone continued their morning rush.
The lady was fine, but as she dusted off her knees and continued on her journey, I wondered if it would change her approach to life. Would she take more time, be more mindful, and appreciate the now?
As I walked further up Bishopsgate towards Liverpool Street, I noticed just how many more people were in a hurry, rushing here, there, and everywhere. And it reminded me that I’ve been there. 10 years ago, that was me. Rushing into work an hour early, never taking lunch breaks, all in the hope of getting home on time. For me, it never worked. My days were just even longer, and I ended up in a state of burnout with a myriad of health issues and my work suffered because I was just too tired to do anything. And then I realised, I’m almost pushing myself back to that point again – I have two young children (one of whom has currently forgotten how to sleep!), I’m studying for my mid-year exams, I’m running two businesses and doing some mini-courses alongside them, and I’m not taking time for myself again.
With hindsight, I can see that rushing into work early and not taking breaks, is a recipe for disaster. But seeing that unfortunate lady get knocked off her feet, made me realise that whether we work in the City or not, we need to take the time to be mindful, slow down a little bit, take the time to appreciate good food and good company, do regular yoga and meditation, and preserve our wellbeing… but who has time for all of that AND their work?!
So here are 5 simple ways to slow down, in a busy world:
1. Shower in the dark
This is without a doubt, my favourite way to switch off and remove myself from stress.
2. Mindfulness Apps
Download one of the many available (I like Headspace, but there are many others) and take 10 minutes during your commute to listen to the guided meditation session.
3. Take regular short breaks
If you can’t manage a full hour for lunch, take a short 10 minute break every two hours. Go for a short walk, get some fresh air (and some vitamin D if the sun is shining!), do some deep breathing, perhaps a few yoga stretches if you can find somewhere to do them.
4. Eat well
Batch cook at the weekend – spend an hour making a huge pot of soup with vegetables, lentils, perhaps a little meat or fish. Then everyday, take at least 20 minutes away from whatever you are doing, and have a portion of that soup for lunch. So much more nourishing than a meal-deal grabbed from the shop and eaten at your desk while you catch up on emails. For evenings, make a stir-fry, or invest in a slow cooker so you can arrive home to a homecooked ready meal.
5. Cut the caffeine
If you’re using coffee or caffeinated drinks as a crutch to get you through the day, to get you going or to keep you going, then there’s a problem. Try switching to green tea (I love Pukka’s Green Tea with Matcha tea bags) which contains a lower amount of caffeine and an amino acid known as L-Theanine, which relaxes the nervous system and reduces anxiety.
Hopefully this has given you a few ideas, and maybe the drive to make some changes to your life. And if you have any other ideas for slowing down in our busy world, I’d love to hear from you!
Kate Knowler is a nutritionist available for 1-to-1 appointments at the Allergy & Health Test Clinic, for clients looking to improve their wellbeing through food and lifestyle changes.