what happens when you slow down?

Remember when I talked about how the move would help me to reduce my hustle, cut back on my hours, and maybe take a weekend off? Well, it’s happening. Slowly, but surely I’m spending less time working and more time living. I woke up on Saturday morning and didn’t feel the necessity of opening my laptop, checking and writing emails, planning more shoots. And I just finished up a few projects that have always been on my mind, but I just never had time to actually execute. I am totally overwhelmed by this amazing feeling of IT IS HAPPENING.

On the weekends though… I start to realize how little I’ve focused on myself the past few years. My body is exhausted, but my mind is totally restless. I constantly worry that I should doing something, even if it’s not work… laundry, dishes, cooking, anything. So on Saturday I forced myself to sit in a chair and read a book (this is what I’m reading at the moment, BTW). It was a struggle and I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that. Not many people have the luxury to actually take a day off like that to just read, but I did and it was truly difficult. I couldn’t quiet my mind and it felt impossible put down the phone. My mind was all WHOA WHOA WHOA, what is going on here?! The same thing happened at the gym this morning: they have a strict no-phone interaction policy and I kept catching myself falling into the old habit of reaching for it to check how many like my latest Instagram got or what’s new on Twitter. Aka shit that is not actually important at all.

I’m aware that this isn’t an overnight process, but I am pretty damn shocked by just how difficult it has been for me to slow down. These few examples have made me aware of just how bad the problem has gotten. But as I grow my awareness (like this morning at the gym), I start to really explore what happens if I don’t immediately respond to that text or check Facebook comments. This practice has also given me a bit of clarity as to WHY I am so attached to my phone: many of my friends don’t live in Seattle, so that glowing rectangle is the easiest way to keep in touch. The barrage of texts and constant photo and video sharing essentially happens in place of real, live human interaction. As someone who says she places high value on one-on-one in-person interaction, I’ve instead begun conducting all friendships via social media and texting. It’s this weird feeling of never being truly alone with myself.

I’m left with lots of questions now: How much connectivity is too much? And how do I stay in touch without being constantly accessible? It’s a strange balance, one that I’m working on more and more these days. If you’ve got any insight or tips or even just similar stories, I’d love to hear them.

photo from my Instagram — follow me here!

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Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest digital influencer and former textile designer with an eye for beautiful things. Jojotastic is a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress home, interior styling, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style.

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Leave a Comment

9 Comments

  1. 5.1.15
    Jackie T. said:

    Get a massage girl; you deserve it! I definitely recommend getting a 90 minute massage, so much better than just an hour. It will give your body that initial chance to relax and then you can zen-out for the remaining time. It might even give your creative subconscious brain a chance to work out the details of your next big idea :) as well as train your body how to relax.

  2. 4.28.15
    Amelia Anderson-Mooney said:

    I can completely relate to the fight your mind gave you about slowing down. After finishing grad school (at SPU!), internship, fellowship, and now working chasing grants and seeing patients, I was shocked when my mind felt restless, anxious, and guilty when I tried to relax. I still have a hard time watching a movie or TV without doing something else at the same time. It’s sad when working less actually feels threatening. I’m trying to approach my schedule more purposefully and mindfully now, even though those changes won’t kick in for a while. I hope facing being afraid to slow down really pays off like I hope- I feel like I’m missing out on life and on ME by being so focused on work!

    • 4.29.15
      joanna said:

      it’s so great to know i’m not alone. thank you!

  3. 4.28.15
    Erica said:

    Working on this as well. My roommate’s pretty convinced that I live in a constant state of exhaustion. Like other goals, it helps me to have a buddy to keep me on track and accountable. In my case, my roomie, who will sternly tell me to relax on the weekends. It probably sounds weird, but it’s helping.

    Something that I learned from working at this firm is that it’s important to set expectations of when you’re reachable to clients, and it’s your responsibility to stick to those. Going down the slippery slope of being available for them all the time isn’t necessarily great customer service… working on that too :)

    • 4.28.15
      joanna said:

      oh absolutely, agreed! sometimes it’s more a matter of telling myself than clients though!

  4. 4.28.15
    lisa james said:

    Love your post. I think slowing down is always a good thing. Even when others might disagree with it. Sometimes you have to steal time-unplug from certain distractions. If most of your friends are out of state, I think its fine to only text/chat on social media.Sometimes the only way to stay connected is online. Its our “lifeline” these days. There are definite time wasters there that can be a bad thing. Sometimes I go to my paper planner/journal to break away from the digital world for a bit. That’s when i feel calmer. Something about putting pen to paper takes me back to a pre-digital pace and i naturally slow my breathing and pacing. Each of us knows when its time to decompress and sit out the latest youtube facebook trending topics or posts from friends, etc. My weakness is pinning on Pinterest-I can stay away for a day tops, then i pin like a fiend when I return. Ironically, I pin to boards that emphasive living slower and more artfully. Its a work in progress.

    • 4.28.15
      joanna said:

      thank you SO much for chiming in and all of your advice. it’s great to know i’m not alone!

  5. 4.27.15
    leigh jackson said:

    Hi Joanna, lots of good thoughts here. I am here in Seattle, I am an artist and I have been wanting to try out Elm Coffee and would be interested , I would love grab a coffee and meet you. I am a cat and dog lady too. I specialize in modern dog paintings

    • 4.28.15
      joanna said:

      hi leigh, it would be awesome to meet up! i’m always up for elm, it’s DELICIOUS! wanna shoot me an email and we can set up a time? hello [at] jojotastic.com <3