How to Slow Down + Relax— Even When Life is Busy

Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot to simplify my life. I’ve decluttered my home, become more intentional with my time, and learned how to prioritise self-care. All of these decisions have gone far to help me slow down and relax.

Most days I feel well and balanced—BUT my minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean that I’m immune to stress and overwhelm. There are still days when things feel out of control and time gets away from me.

The difference is that now, I’m more aware. Gratefully, I’ve learned to recognise when I need to slow down my busy life. Also, I know there are proven strategies that can help.

If you’re struggling to calm a busy day, here are 10 simple acts that will help you shift gears and find more ease. These are practical steps you can take right now to slow down life.

Foreground: A white box with the text "How To Slow Down And Relax, Even When Life Is Busy" Background: a bright and cozy scene with a sweater, journal, and plant.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I recommend products and make a small commission on purchases, at no additional cost to you. Click here for the full disclosure statement.

10 Simple Ways To Slow Down + Relax

1. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

When I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I’ve learned that there are three specific changes I can make to my environment in order to slow down and relax: lighting, scent, and sound.

For example, around 6 pm most evenings:

  • I dim the lights (by turning off overhead lighting and switching to small lamps)
  • put on a calming playlist (my current favourite is the Into the Wild soundtrack)
  • and then put some lavender oil into a diffuser.

Whenever I do this, something instantly changes inside of me. I still have to clean up dinner, bathe my babies, and deal with bedtime—but somehow those tasks feel different. It feels less like work and more like I’m *flowing* through my evening. It’s a subtle shift, but it’s enough to help me slow down and enjoy the mundane yet beautiful parts of my everyday life.

2. GET SOME FRESH AIR

When I used to work in the corporate world, one of my go-to ways of creating ease in my day was to take five minutes to go outside and stare at the clouds.

The fresh air and the sunshine would invigorate me, plus there was something special about looking into the sky and feeling small. It always helped me find perspective; suddenly my inbox and to-do list didn’t have the power over me it once did.

These days, you’re likely to find me leaning out an open window, taking a deep breath, and letting my eyes rest on the city below me (my apartment is on the 17th floor). I take a few minutes to notice the little details—pedestrians crossing the street, the mountains in the distance, the sounds of the city—and again, I find perspective (even with crying children and a basket of laundry to fold!).

Related Post: 10 Simple Pleasures That Make Life Beautiful

A view of a city skyline at dusk.
Taking a moment to slow down, be present, and enjoy this beautiful day.

3. CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF

If you catch yourself thinking, “How can I slow down my busy life?” —I recommend you stop what you’re doing and take two seconds to check-in with yourself. Ask simple questions such as:

  • What do I need to feel better?
  • In this moment, what matters most?
  • What am I feeling right now?

These questions help me step back and look at the big picture, which again gives me the perspective I need to slow down and live in the moment.

Tip: Take things a step further by exploring these journal prompts for self-care—or try these mindful journal prompts (these always help me when I’m feeling anxious!).

4. READ FOR A FEW MINUTES

I know that when you’re busy, taking a few minutes to read is probably the last thing on your mind. Instead, most of us tend to view reading for pleasure as a “treat”—something to do after you’ve done everything else on your to-do list.

I’m definitely not immune to falling into this trap BUT I’ve found that if I’m intentional about reading during the day (even if it’s just for a few minutes) it helps me to slow down and relax.

I’m not sure the science behind it but if I had to guess, I’d say that reading forces your brain to focus. It makes it impossible to multitask, so for a few minutes at least, you can truly rest.

Need something new to read? Here are a few novels I’ve recently enjoyed (affiliate links): A Man Called Ove, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and The Alice Network.

5. OBSERVE YOUR BREATH

When it feels like time is slipping away, a quick and easy way to regain control is to observe your breath.

This article goes in-depth about the many ways you can practise breath awareness but I’ve found that one of the simplest ways is to take note of how your breath feels on your nostrils. It might sound silly but I highly encourage you to give it a try!

Another technique I really enjoy is alternate nostril breathing, I find it really energises me when I’m feeling drained.

a bright and cozy scene with a sweater, journal, and plant.

6. WRITE A LIST

Another of my favourite ways to slow down is to take a few minutes to write a list. I love this list journal by Breathe Magazine (affiliate link) or simply try one of these ideas:

  • gratitude list
  • bucket list
  • travel wishlist
  • things that bring me joy

I like writing lists because they’re so simple. While I’m a HUGE fan of journaling, I understand that sometimes facing a blank page is overwhelming. List writing, on the other hand, makes it easier to decide what to write about and in turn, it’s easier to get started.

7. MOVE YOUR BODY

Physical movement is another one of those things that we tend to overlook when we’re busy, but I think this is because of the expectations we set for ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up with the belief that moving your body is only valuable if it’s a “proper workout” but in my experience, this is far from the truth.

Instead, I’ve found that taking even a quick five minutes to stretch, do a few yoga poses, or to take a short walk can do wonders for your wellbeing. It grounds me; the more I’m aware of my physical body, the easier it is for me to get out of my own head.

8. PRACTICE SIMPLE RITUALS

This is something I started doing after the birth of my daughter. In the early days, I spent a lot of time at home with her and too often, I felt like the day would slip away without me realising it. Of course, I was mindful of my limitations as a new mum but still … I craved something to help me feel grounded and more at ease.

The solution I landed on was creating small rituals throughout my day: burning incense while I made coffee, washing my face and apply a nice moisturiser during nap time, stroking her hair while I nursed her. It might not seem like much but the sum of these little rituals combined added a rhythm to my day, which helped me to slow down and enjoy my time as a new mum that bit more.

Quote against a dark background: "Do something nice for yourself today. Find some quiet, sit in stillness, breathe. Put your problems on pause. You deserve a break." by Akiroq Brost
A gentle reminder to slow down and relax. Do something for you today.

9. DISCONNECT

Have you ever noticed that when you spend time online, on your phone, or in front of the TV … that time just slips away? I’m not sure about you but I know that for myself, a few minutes on Facebook can quickly turn into 30.

Now, I’m obviously not against the internet or social media, but I do believe that we should be mindful of our approach. If you feel the need to slow down a busy day, one of the quickest and easiest things you can do is make the intentional decision to disconnect for a while.

10. SET BOUNDARIES

Finally, one of the best ways to slow down is by setting boundaries. In this case, I’m not talking about saying “no” to other people (although that’s often a good idea too!). Instead, I’m talking about creating your own mental boundaries.

For example, one of my biggest challenges is often trying to balance getting work done (either around the house or for this blog) with taking care of my children. It’s easy to let these conflicting life priorities overwhelm me—but I keep this from happening by setting boundaries.

This means making a conscious decision not to worry or stress about something for a set period of time:

  • I’m not going to think about housework or my blog for the next two hours while I play with my daughter.
  • I’m going to do housework for the next hour and not feel guilty about encouraging my daughter to play independently.
  • Today during nap time, I’m going to focus on my blog and not worry about the dirty dishes in the sink.

I don’t necessarily think this way every day, but whenever I start feeling like time is getting away from me, I use this tactic to regain control. The result is I’m usually more productive AND I feel better too.

How To Slow Down Your Life

If this has inspired you to learn more about slow living, here are some additional blog posts that you might enjoy:

What do you think? Do you have any tips to help slow down and relax? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts! x

Sharing is caring!

4 thoughts on “How to Slow Down + Relax— Even When Life is Busy”

  1. Your blog has definitely helped me to understand how my brain sabotages me with distracting thoughts. I am working on being mindful in the present moment so that I enjoy what I’m doing at the time and not distracted by what’s to be done in the future (or what didn’t get done in the past LOL!)

    Reply
  2. I discovered this at the perfect time! I’ve spent the entire day feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and unproductive, and was about to let that feeling seep into my nighttime too. But this was the reminder I needed to give myself a chance to disconnect and take it slow. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Great article. This is going to be a big part of my life the following year and hopefully years… I want intentional living and simple living. I enjoy the gadgets and tv and computers/ipad etc… but I have to push back and be more jealous of MY time. I get stuff done but Monday turns into Friday WAY too quickly … and not like you can enjoy the weekend because it’s automatically Monday again ?? I sometimes have to think a minute or so of what i had for supper “last night”. It’s like my life is on auto pilot and I just want to get off and enjoy life more! I have a blessed life truly but it feels like my brain just says all day long you got this and it goes and lays on the beach or something unknown to me LOL. I try rituals but I can’t stay consistent. I have always had problems with staying consistent. I am trying new hobbies of photography and painting. I feel they can go together and i rather enjoy them so far. Thank you for your blog and this article. I love how you mention on occasion you slip into ‘the dark side’ of all this from time to time and you have to pull back also. I know it will never be completely easy and done for us. It will always be a slight struggle and require effort on our part especially with the crazy evil world we live in but i feel like I am making strides for the good and I will certainly use your suggestions here to help me along my journey. Thanks and GOD bless! Jonathan

    Reply

Leave a Comment

shares