Issue 62 / Slow Down To Speed Up And Achieve More

Slow Down To Speed Up And Achieve More

Sep 23, 2016

Sometimes you need to take a step back in order to move forward! 

We have 48 thoughts coming to us every minute. That’s 700 000 thoughts per day. Take a moment to think about that.

We are bombarded with stimulus at almost every turn — billboards, television, radio, etc. We move fast in fear that if we don’t act immediately, we’ll lose opportunities. It’s not just with material things but with life goals as well. We are constantly asked by family, friends, colleagues and sometimes even strangers on first encounters about what our plans are in terms of family and career. The pressure to keep moving forward is enormous. School, career, marriage, kids — we want it all to flow smoothly by a certain age and when it doesn’t, we panic.  

The South Asian culture is very goal focused. From a young age we talk about future weddings and encourage stable career paths in medicine, law, engineering or finance. A loving, warm, culture, South Asian elderly do not do this with ill intentions but with dreams and hopes. The problem is those hopes can turn into pressure. A consequence is that we feel rushed; we develop a habit of saying yes to things without reflecting on if we even want to do them. In a frenzy we make fast decisions that can slow us down later (anyone that's been divorced as a result of rushing into marraige can attest to the years of joy they ended up losing). 


Our culture is very focused-driven but it's time to slow things down. 
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A culture that associates being agreeable with being respectful, we have a norm of saying "yes." We have a habit of taking on too much to please others leaving ourselves exhausted. Sacrificing our own wants and desires to appease societal norms can lead to problems. In 2013, mental health illness in South Asian communities accounted for 22 per cent of the disease burden; 7 per cent more than cancer.

Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disease, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and addiction are some of the illnesses falling into the category of mental health. South Asian suicide rates continue to climb. Research from the United States demonstrates that South Asian women have a higher suicide rate than the rest of the general population and India has over 100,000 suicides per year.

We cannot site one sole cause and or factor and want to be clear that many mental illnesses are linked to bilogical factors (we are not suggesting they are caused by family pressure). What we are suggesting is that removing the stigma around mental health can help our mental health as a community.

We have to be open to discuss mental health issues without judgement and the role that societal pressures and expectations play. We need to slow down to make the best decisions on how to move forward with more peace and less pressure.

Sometimes the idea of slowing can be viewed as another task on our list of to-do's. Don’t let slowing down stress you out. It’s much easier than you think.

Try some of these simple, free strategies:


Taking a moment to stop brings clarity and focus.
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We have so much stimuli coming at us that we are in a state of being reactive. We want to respond to things immediately. We make decisions too quickly — often big ones (marriage for example). Our fear of losing opportunity propels us into making the wrong ones. Focus on direction over speed. Rushing into the wrong choice will only take you backwards at a later point.




A few deep breathes make a difference.
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That’s what you should do when you pause. One of the first subconscious reactions in stress is an increased heart rate while one of the easiest solutions is pausing to take a few deep, long breathes. It only takes a moment, it’s free and it's clinically proven to reduce stress. Close your eyes right now, take five long, deep breathes; the likelihood is you’ll feel an immediate sense of focus and calm. Take these pauses throughout your day to help stay focused, clear and calm.


Pay attention to the present moment.

 walking meditation
Slow down your stroll to appreciate your surrondings.
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Meditation is a concept you can bring to any task — walking, eating and even cleaning. It involves being attentive to the different senses and sensations involved in what you’re doing. When you’re walking for example, notice your surroundings; look at the trees you pass by, notice the colours you see, the noises you hear and feel the movement in your body as you take each step. There’s so much beauty we miss and take for granted while we rush to reach our destination.

Say NO.
  Steve Jobs
Words of wisdom from Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.
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Just do it. You do not have to do everything for everyone all the time. You’re not a bad employee if you refuse taking on extra projects; you’re not a bad parent if you can’t be at every extracurricular and you are not a bad spouse if you don’t have a home-made meal every night. If you’re stressed, burnt out and irritable, you will end up damaging the relationships you’re taking on so much to improve. You’re not selfish for not sacrificing every part of yourself at every point — you’re smart.

When we slow down we create the opportunity to become aware of what we really want. That clarity leads to focus; that focus leads to accomplishment; that accomplishment leads to gratitude; that gratitude leads to joy; that joy is what makes life worth living.

Rachna Sethi


Rachna (@thesassyspiritual) is a graduate of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program from the University of Toronto, a certified Educator with two bachelor degrees and a diploma in Art Therapy. She's dedicated to living with a compassionate approach. Committed to helping people integrate Mindfuln...


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