By Joy Ballard
If there is one message heard loud and clear in the areas of emotional, spiritual, and physical health, it is to slow down. While anxiety skyrockets and technology accelerates, a call can be heard under the ruckus to slow down and go the opposite way.
Far greater minds than mine can take care of explaining why slowing down matters. However, if you’ve also felt a stir in your heart to turn around and walk against the current of our times, here are 12 ways that my husband and I have used to intentionally slow down. Pick one and commit to it for a month or longer before adding another. You might even pick just one to focus on this year.
- Drink slow coffee. When our run-of-the-mill drip coffee maker died recently, we started using our french press and realized we love the methodical process of making coffee this way, not to mention the improved taste!
- Read books. When my kids were little, I wish I knew then that there really is time to lift my mind above the mundane tasks before me to remember the greater story I am a part of. Yes, that is what great books will do for you!
- Sit outside. Our outdoor time often involves lawn care, house care, child care…but rarely just the joy of simply sitting to enjoy good weather and good company.
- Cook from scratch. Not only is it slower, but also healthier. The kitchen truly is the heart of the home when chopping veggies side by side while chatting about the day.
- Get up earlier. I apologize, but it is true. Waking up earlier will allow your morning routine more time and less rush. You could more leisurely sip coffee and read your Bible, take a longer shower or eat a better breakfast.
- Go to bed earlier. On the flip side, early bedtimes not only make early mornings more feasible, they also keep you from late night snacking and TV binging. Paired with a great book, you will be amazed at your improved quality of sleep!
- Hang laundry. Use the washing/drying/folding time as an intentional way to slow down and spend time thinking or praying about your day. Hanging laundry to dry when possible is a perfect way to take a breath of fresh air in the middle of your day.
- Become a plant lady. The work of tending plants is a gift that helps us take time to notice and care for the needs of something that God created. We partner with him in this creation care which in turn refreshes our souls.
- Manage your phone. We were not created to know all things or be entertained at all times. I have deleted email, social media and news apps to purposefully make them difficult to access so that I will slow down and be more intentional about my choices.
- Write cards/letters. Recapture the fun of sending and getting written words in the mail. Send a friend or relative a written note or letter just because. Enjoy the experience of waiting for a reply and once you get it, saving it for just the right moment to read.
- Sabbath. Learn more about it and incorporate this incredible practice into the rhythms of your life. A good way to start is to focus on worship, rest and delight. What are things that bring your heart to a place of worship, rest and delight? What would your spouse answer?
- Take the long cut. To my kids, the long cut is the obvious opposite of the short cut. Sure, you could get there faster, avoid some traffic, risk your life a little more. Or you could take the long way home and use the time to practice patience and enjoy some tunes. It is as true for driving as it is for life.
All these ideas are really rhythms or routines. We have created a world where a frantic routine is the way of life. In order to get off that roller coaster, you need new routines to take the place of old ones. These types of rhythms help us to grow in love, joy, peace and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which is the best way of life.
Wife Step: What will be your first slow down focus point for the year?
Joy was born and raised in a multicultural, bilingual family in the country of Mexico. Although she loves a good taco, her love for a Minnesota guy won out. 14 years of marriage, 4 kids and many geographical locations later, they now reside in Indiana where her husband is completing a doctoral program. Together they love helping couples discover the incredible adventure marriage was intended to be. They have led many marriage small groups, ministries and retreats, but their favorite way to connect with other couples is by simply sharing life together. When not deep in the throes of homeschooling and parenting, Joy enjoys devouring books, stringing words together, dabbling in watercolor, and sipping coffee with friends. Photo credit: Woodford Sisters Photography