Slowing the pace of life

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
A comment I hear a lot, and one I find myself making, is that life seems so fast paced now, writes life coach Jan Aitken.

Jan Aitken
Jan Aitken
The result is often feeling overwhelmed and not quite in control - it’s an uncomfortable and unsatisfying way to live. But, is there an alternative way to live? Can we slow things down?

For starters, I’d like to control what I can and live my life in a way that supports my health and wellbeing, to make more room for the things I enjoy. Setting a slower pace, where possible, is one way to do that. It’s not a new concept — the "slow living" movement has been around since the mid 1980s.

Living a slower life doesn’t mean doing things at a snail’s pace. Slow living is a philosophy or mindset that you can apply to many or all areas of life, for example not always rushing from one thing to the next or

being conscious of how you spend your time, figuring out what is important to you and incorporating it into your routine.


Fast has become ingrained: fast decisions, fast-food, things becoming urgent even when they’re not.

By deliberately applying the slow living mindset to our lives, we create a more balanced life. We start to ask questions about what’s important, simplify our schedules, making time to enjoy the important things and connecting deeply. We can figure out our own pace of life and fit in our top priorities. This is not a "method" to fit everything we currently juggle into our lives — that’s the exact opposite of what slow living aims to achieve. While living slowing we still live full lives and have moments of slowness or "pockets of calm" in them.

Exactly how you apply the slow living philosophy to your life is a personal decision.

In Carl Honore’s book, In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, he states: "... the Slow philosophy can be summed up in single word: balance. Be fast when it makes sense to be fast, and be slow when slowness is called for. Seek to live at what musicians call the tempo giusto — the right speed."

We may not always have control over the pressures and pace of life, especially at work, but we need to learn to control what we can.

Figure out what your priorities and core values are and then orient your life around them. If you don’t, then you risk focusing your time and energy on something that ultimately turns out to be a waste.

Then think about what aspects of your life feel like they are too fast? What would you like to do more slowly? What things are paced just right?

Focus on slowing the things that match your priorities and values. Allow more time to do the things you want to do and get comfortable with quiet or down time. Not every moment of every day needs to be actively filled. A few ideas for slowing down include:

•sitting at the table for the evening meal

•bringing your awareness fully to the task you are presently engaged in

•forget multi-tasking — it just scrambles your brain and reduces your focus

•keeping holidays and weekends simple

•ditch some screen time and develop or rediscover a hobby

•do something every week (preferably something small every day) just for you

What would slowing down look like for you?

Take a little time to have a think about it and see where

you can slow down your life and create pockets of calm.

Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach. For more go to



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