Ferris Bueller famously said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Unfortunately, society didn’t heed the warning in 1986, and life in the 21st century is moving faster than ever.
In a constantly connected world that’s dominated by dual-income households and endless responsibilities, it’s common for life to rush by. We give little notice to the things that make life beautiful. This fast-paced lifestyle can lead to chronic stress, illness and dissatisfaction.
Let’s dive into the importance of slowing down in our fast-paced world, and more importantly, how to accomplish this monumental task with our busy schedules.
The Impacts of Constant Connectivity
It’s hard to believe that the dawn of the social media revolution was a mere 15 years ago. Smartphones have only become a household staple over the past decade. With the development of cloud technology and constant mobile connectivity comes a dark side: a life of constant connection.
Social media has been proven to negatively impact mental health, contributing to insidious disorders like depression and body dysmorphia. The curated moments and intense editing create a culture of comparison that encourages constant benchmarking. Why is this person so much happier than me? Why can’t I be that successful?
In addition to social media’s impacts on our mental health, there also comes blurred boundaries. It’s not uncommon to check your work email late in the evening — in fact, it sometimes feels impossible not to. Constant scrolling can harm relationships in profound ways that can lead to a disconnect where it matters the most.
This constant connectivity stems from a fast-paced lifestyle where we expect everything to happen instantly and don’t want to miss a moment. However, taking a break from smartphones and social media can be immensely therapeutic, leading to better sleep, mental health, and stress management.
Give yourself a curfew and leave your phone away from your bed at night. Then, start leaving it in the car as you run errands. Finally, turn off your push notifications and alerts, checking in only at scheduled times for new messages or updates.
The Benefits of Time in Nature
Living in a fast-paced world means being too connected to responsibilities and not connected enough to the world around us. Taking time in nature is a great way to slow down and reset.
In Japan, there’s a practice known as shinrin-yoku — forest bathing. Scientific studies have proven that reconnecting with nature through forest bathing positively affects both mental and physical health. These findings are congruent with a concept known as the biophilia hypothesis: the idea that humans are a part of nature and thus require time in nature to feel whole.
Create time in your schedule to disconnect from your devices and connect to nature, even if it’s just 10 minutes in the morning before your day begins. Take in the sights and sounds around you. What can you hear? What do you feel?
The Impacts of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is often referred to as a silent killer for its devastating impact on the body. Stress leads to hormonal dysregulation, inflammation, and the development of diseases over time. Studies also show a connection between chronic stress and cognitive function, leading to memory loss and diminished executive function.
When asked, most people will tell you that most of their stress comes from work, overfilled schedules, and overwhelming familial responsibilities. Taking time to slow down and unwind is crucial to protect your mental and physical health.
The Benefits of a Good Night’s Rest
According to the CDC, one in three adults fails to get enough sleep. Unfortunately, getting a good night’s rest is often sacrificed for other responsibilities, whether intentionally or not. In some cases, people fail to sleep due to stress and anxiety, which causes hormonal disruption that leads to more stress and anxiety. Others sacrifice sleep for a phenomenon known as revenge bedtime procrastination.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your sleep quality, including creating an optimal sleep environment to help promote better rest. Sleep hygiene is important and by creating the conditions to help you get the best sleep you can ensure your success.
To do this, your room should be dark and cool with ambient noise and a supportive mattress. Experts recommend sleeping on your side as the best position for deep, restorative sleep. Health.com reports, “the lateral nature of this position helps keep airways open, allowing those who snore to rest more comfortably. Studies have shown that side sleeping can even help clear brain waste, permitting you to think more clearly and efficiently.”
Slowing down isn’t just about living longer; it’s about enjoying the time you have on Earth. Give yourself permission to rest and unplug from the world, and learn from the wise lessons Ferris Bueller shared so many years ago. After all, he knew how to take a day off.