Ten tips to slow down your life

A driverless car freewheeling down a hill doesn't slow down by itself. It requires a driver to apply the brakes. Your life is a hill. Are you a driverless car? Consider this your driving lesson in slowing down.

Slowing down requires scheduling and specifically devised activities that interrupt you from incessantly clicking e-mail, Facebook, Twitter; text messages ... don't pretend you don't. We all do it.

Here are 10 tips for slowing your life down and regaining some headspace in this crazy modern world.

1) Plan sacred slots into your weekend

Treat relaxation with the same solemn seriousness that a nun treats religion. Schedule slots into your weekend where you decline coffee meet-ups and gym sessions. It's tempting to say yes to all these fun things, but they require leaving home, changing clothes, travelling, being punctual – all things you do on weekdays and deserve a break from. Reserve at least two three-hour slots every weekend to enjoy your own company in your own home, in your trackies and baggy t-shirt. Block out these slots in your calendar. Don't ignore them.

2) Make the most of being an Aussie

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) this month found that Australia is the happiest nation in the developed world. Enjoy your country, its beaches, its huge blue sky and the natural environment that urges you to stroll by and leisurely admire it on a Sunday.

3) Switch off all technology from time to time

Many of us stare at a screen for eight hours a day. Turn off the laptop or smartphone, even for an hour, to take a breather from the sometimes bewildering pace of it all. Leave your phone at home for that stroll, or turn it off during those sacred relaxation slots. If that seems unrealistic, try a week-long experimental Facebook hiatus. See if you feel less connected - or just more relaxed.


4) Follow @DalaiLama on Twitter

Once the technology hiatus is over, check out the Twitter feed of the Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. His soothing tweets will remind you of a gentler time and encourage reflection.

5) Find the soundtrack to your new pace

The very tools we use for our adrenalin fixes can be used to chillax. Just as music can speed us up for jogging, it can equally wind us down. Whether it's classical, soul, emo or ballads, select the soundtrack to your desired mellow state, run a bath and press play. And just as social media can exhaust us, it can refresh us too – here's my suggested chill out play-list on Spotify.

6) On yer bike!

Getting around on a bicycle is often faster than any other mode of transport for short distances. It's also surprisingly relaxing as you cruise along, so dust off those lycra shorts. Actually, scratch that. Just do it in your trackies. Please.

7) Wear yourself out to chill out

Heard of a jogger's endorphin rush? It's a potent thing. If you just can't seem to unclutter your discombobulated mind, intensive cardio will often do it – then you can vegetate happily.

8) Bikram yoga

Bikram yoga is one of the best ways to force overachievers to relax. If normal yoga leaves you restless, Bikram will both calm and exhaust you. The soothing but soaring high you feel afterwards has to be experienced to be believed.

9) A weekend off the booze

Drinking speeds you up, then quickly slows you down in all the wrong ways. Slow down on a natural high rather than on a depressant. Hangover-free weekends make a world of difference. Look up Hello Sunday Morning for tips on short-term sobriety.

10) Join a kibbutz

There are 256 kibbutzim in Israel. If none of the above works for you, perhaps it's time for a more radical change. Don't think for one second it won't be hard work; it will. But it'll be a break from the competitive and commercial nature of capitalism. Your body will be exhausted. Your brain just might get back into the gear it needs to function at its best.