There’s an upside to slowing down?

Jane is scared to slow down and smell the roses, even though she is 63 – and her daughter is worried about her. Jane has asked psychologist Dr Emmanuella Murray for advice.

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Q. Jane
My daughter keeps telling me to slow down, and I think she’s right, but I can’t help myself. I’m 63 and never been one for going slow, or smelling the roses, so to speak. I think I’m scared to slow down because I’m scared of getting old.

A. While it is wonderful to hear you are so active, I think you and your daughter might be onto something. Slowing down won’t make you feel older – it will make you feel more alive. If we are always rushing about, we can easily live our lives on automatic pilot. In other words, we can stop noticing what’s going on around us because we are not fully present.

Women often pride themselves on being able to multi-task, but the truth is, multi-tasking isn’t good for us. It’s stressful! It’s much better for us to focus on one thing at a time. In psychology, we call it mindfulness, which means focusing on the here and now. It’s the opposite to living on automatic pilot.

You can stay active, busy and young, but by practising mindfulness, you will reduce your stress level, improve your concentration and memory, and you won’t worry your daughter so much.

There are simple ways to practice being mindful. While walking, observe everything around you – what do you see and hear and smell? While stopped at traffic lights, notice what’s around you – what is the most common colour and make of car? While eating your dinner, what flavours can you taste? What colours can you see on the plate? How does the texture of the food change as you chew?

You don’t have to be mindful all day, but taking the time to slow down and mindfully focusing on what’s happening will pay off in so many ways.

Dr Emmanuella Murray is a clinical psychologist who has been practising for more than 10 years. She works with children, adolescents, adults and couples, and presents to professionals and community groups.

If you have a question for Dr Emmanuella Murray, please send it to [email protected]

Written by Janelle Ward

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