In her regular feature, Times wellbeing guide, Lucy Parker, from Flow Tunbridge Wells, invites you to slow down and smell the Christmas roses!
Have you noticed how things tend to speed up in mid-December as we all race towards the finishing line of Christmas Day? Although, of course, there is no line and it’s remarkable how time soon slows back to a snail’s pace as we slip into January, officially the longest month of the year. It’s a little like the time warp we experience as the train arrives in Charing Cross and we disembark at speed, brushing off the slow pace of home and tuning into a quick step for London. The adrenaline pumps, the copycat mirror neurons tune in and before we know it, we’re going about our day in quick time, racing from venue to venue, chat to chat and one thing to another, bish bash bosh!
Time, as we know, is relative and so it’s merely our perception that alters how we view the Christmas rush or the London vibe, and that’s great news! Great news as it allows us to play with time in our own way and become a Time Lord of our choosing. Let me introduce you to a trick I’ve been using for years. You know that final Christmas supermarket shop that you’ve been dreading, the one where there’ll be a fight over the sprouts and there’s been a rush on the redcurrant jelly?
Here’s what I do, I consciously allocate the whole hour I know it will take to get around – and add half an hour more. So, I have 90 minutes on my side and no need to stress. The time is mine and I’m going to enjoy it. I set my slow and steady intention as I drive towards the supermarket and have my mind set to a mixture of curiosity and calm before I reach the car park queue. Once parked I take a moment to stop and stare. To breathe and observe the mayhem from the warm solitude of my driving seat. Then I disembark and move slowly. So slowly it’s luxurious, leisurely, and serene. I ample toward the trolly area and stroll into Sainsbury’s with a glint in my eye and merriment in my heart. Once in, I purposefully glide up and down the aisles as if I’ve never been before and I may as well be in Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I smell the smells, taste the tasters, inhale the atmosphere, and marvel at the colours and textures all around me.
Now I’m aware this may sound a tad crazy. It’s not the normal way of doing things and it’s a little laborious perhaps. Yet it works! My shopping is done, I’m relaxed and happy and it’s likely taken me at most 30 minutes longer than tackling the shop like it’s a rugby match. I leave calm, merry and bright with not a bruise on my arm or torn object in my basket. Result.
What about the kids I hear you cry! When my boys were young, I was on my own with them and they had to come with me everywhere, even to the Christmas Eve supermarket shop, and guess what, we went slow! We made it into a game; ‘spot three green things’, ‘three shiny things’, ‘a purple star’. They loved the game, I went slow, and we all left there feeling like we’d been to the fun fair, just without candyfloss. We glided around the aisles together in a harmonious bubble, only mildly interrupted by a few tuts, or eye-rolling from the more frantic shoppers, and we had fun, it helped.
And if you feel that slow is boring, remember that in your rush, you might just be missing the most important details of your day in a whirlwind of smoke and mirrors. Slow allows us to stay present, to notice and stay connected to our surroundings. In the words of Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
If you’re feeling the stress of the season mounting up and think you could benefit from talking to a qualified counsellor, please do get in touch. I have availability for weekly sessions and am keen to support you back to health.
Lucy Parker, Coach, Counsellor, and Senior Yoga Teacher
Flow Tunbridge Wells