Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Living at a Slower Pace

One thing that I've noticed a lot more since I've been living with MS is how much of a hurry everyone is in these days.

I used to walk briskly when I didn't have MS. Now that I can't walk that quickly anymore, I can't help but notice people rushing past me everywhere I go. It's like I'm standing still and everyone else is moving.

Being a reluctant slowpoke, I sometimes run into a problem where I'm following someone when they're showing me where something is in a store, or what room I need to go to in a building, etc. and they end up getting several yards ahead of me. I guess I just need to get in the habit of letting them know I can't go that fast.

It's not easy watching the rest of the world scurrying past you or running ahead of you. It gets me thinking, though, what is the hurry? Why can't everyone slow down a little?

Sure, life is hectic these days. Even I sometimes have feelings of urgency, of being 'busy', although I can't physically keep pace with those feelings. With so much on our plates, time has become a precious commodity. But, in a way, are we maybe overbooking our days a bit? Maybe we are trying to squeeze too much in.

One thing I have to do now that I am living with MS is to find a balance between tasks, time and energy. Since I can't rush around, a packed schedule is unrealistic. So I have to juggle tasks and errands to fit my limited energy budget.

I still get restless sometimes. When you've got a lot to do, it's only natural. Inside, I still feel like I want to hurry up and get things done, yet my body moves a lot slower than I'd like it to. Internally and externally, I have to slow things down.

If you're looking to slow the pace a bit, here's what I'd suggest:

Pare down the 'to-do' list. Go to five different places in one day? Are you kidding me? Not gonna happen. I can go to one place a day, maybe two, so I have to decide which are the most important. Chores are the same way. I choose one or two things that absolutely must be done that day, and that's it. The rest can wait.

The key word is: Prioritize. Spread things out a bit instead of trying to get it all done in one day.

Avoid getting overwhelmed or stressed. Give yourself plenty of time to get things done so there's no last minute rush. Don't take on more projects at work or extra responsibilities than you can handle. It's okay to say "No" once in a while.

Relax. Make time for yourself part of your schedule.

Plan a day of doing nothing. It seems every day we're busy. Even on the weekends there's always much to do. Pick a day where there are no major events to go to, no shopping trips or chores that can't wait, and just relax all day. Veg out and watch TV, lie on the beach, whatever you need to be totally relaxed.

Being slowed down by MS has really taught me a lot about appreciating things more. Slowing down a bit won't lessen how much you can get done, but it will reduce stress and increase your enjoyment of life. Life may be a rat race, but even the slow tortoise made it to the finish line.

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