Take It Easy

“Looking back, I know that if I would have simply slowed down, I would not have had so many nasty falls that got me here today.  I know I was always moving too fast.”    –Emma, age 92, wheelchair-bound

Haste makes waste.” –common American idiom

**

It seems too easy to simply tell oneself to SLOW DOWN and then actually do it.  But if it were that easy, many more people would be doing it.

We live in a fast-paced world.  Most of us maintain a constant rushing speed because we think we have to.  We think we have so much to get done, and so little time to do it.  In many cases, this is true.  We overload our home and work schedules, because many Americans wear “busy” as a badge of honor.  If we aren’t busy, then we aren’t producing.  If we aren’t producing, then we are not playing the game.  And if we aren’t playing the game, well…you see where this is going. 

It may not be possible to remove ourselves from any of these obligations.  We may have children who need us as parents.  While we are doing that 24/7, we also must fulfill our work obligations.  Many people must work to make ends meet.  Some people have signed up for a complex material lifestyle that demands work to pay for it.  Others work because they love their jobs, and they are fulfilled by them.  Perhaps others are a mixture of all the above. 

Regardless of why any person finds themselves in the “busy” trap, it is necessary to examine how this rushed lifestyle is or is not paying off in the end. There are visible benefits to completing tasks, but the energy exerted must be weighed against that outcome, and only the person engaging can answer that question.

If one’s accomplishments require them to be in a constant hurried state, this increased level of stress is not good for the heart or the soul, and puts the entire body at risk.  If one’s goals and tasks require a compromised sense of safety, then it is safe to say something needs to change. 

If you find yourself in any of these situations, it is time to stop and think about the outcome vs. the sacrifices it takes to achieve it:

  • Driving too fast in order to get to the next stop.
  • Distracted driving, including texting, talking on the phone, eating one’s lunch, or completing other work-related tasks while driving.
  • Sacrificing sleep to complete tasks, or consistently getting poor-quality sleep.
  • Not having enough time to prepare or buy healthy foods.
  • Not having enough time to eat.
  • Consuming too much alcohol, sweets or other foods that may compromise health.
  • Smoking to relieve stress.
  • Multi-tasking on the job or at home.
  • Not watching where one is walking, whether it is outside, inside or in public.  Fall risks increase dramatically when attention is not paid.  Watch your step—literally.
  • Compromising safety over style:  shoes are the means that connect us to the ground we walk on, and certain kinds of shoes/heels can pose a safety/fall risk.
  • Not taking time to relax and unwind on a regular basis, including vacations.

**

The list can go on and on, but simply remembering these two words is the bottom line:  SLOW DOWN! 

Many of us once had a busy schedule with work and family obligations, but no longer do.  However, we continue to perform some tasks too quickly, because we don’t realize that we no longer have to be in a hurry. 

As we age, our balance decreases and our strength wanes, which increases the possibility of falling.  Many of us continue to move as quickly as we always have, but the reasons we once moved that fast are no longer a reality.  We don’t need to keep up that pace, but we do. And the risk of falling increases exponentially. 

**

As Emma stated above, falls often happen simply because the person was rushing unnecessarily.  So much pain and heartache could be prevented by simply slowing down, and exercising prevention.  

**

Since you are already in the groove of slowing down with driving and moving about, why not keep going when you are eating?  So much digestive grief could be avoided if we all simply chewed our food more, which requires reducing our rate of intake.  Chewing each bite slowly not only makes it easier to swallow, but it produces more saliva, which, in turn, aids in the digestive process. 

Anyone is at risk for choking.  We have all heard of someone who has required the Heimlich maneuver to save their lives, perhaps you have even needed it.  Slowing down while eating greatly reduces this risk.

We are all guilty of trying to talk with food in our mouths, especially dining out in social situation, or with a group.  When you talk with food in your mouth, you are inhaling, which greatly increases the choking risk. 

Most of us have another bite ready on the spoon or fork as we are chewing the one in our mouth.  Or, if it is a sandwich or slice of pizza, most of us don’t put it down.  Simply placing the utensil or finger food down will make you stop to think about the bite in your mouth, instead of the next bite waiting to go in your mouth.  This is generally a hard habit to adopt, because most of us have rushed through meals for most of our lives.  When you have thoroughly chewed and then swallowed the bite in your mouth, only then should you pick up the next bite. 

Most of us have the time we need to eat slowly, even if we think we don’t.  Some people’s lunch breaks are minimal or non-existent, almost forcing them to eat too quickly.  Think about your pace while you are eating; perhaps you have extra time to slow down, thus reducing your chances of poor digestion or choking. 

**

The best bonus in changing these habits is this: slowing down lets you enjoy life more.  Rushing through every day, driving fast, walking fast and eating fast is a habit too many of us have.  Take a moment to think about these habits if you do have them, and take a little extra time.  It will be worth it.