5 Reasons to Slow Down This Summer

It’s summertime! There are so many things I love about the summer. Sunshine, warm weather, barbeques, festivals, outdoor seating, runs along the lakefront, walks around the city, longer days, and pool time. Oh and ice cream (mint chocolate chip, please). What I don’t love about the summer, however, is that it goes by way too quickly. Calendars fill up ridiculously fast and in the blink of an eye, it will be Labor Day weekend.

As excited as I am for many activities and events this summer, there is also a feeling of anxiety. There seems to be too many things to do and too little time. The pressure to fit everything in can leave the fun stuff . . .well, not very fun.

We are all so busy. And when we’re not, we feel like we should be. Our culture seems to be stuck on fast forward. Whether it’s with kids or family or work or other obligations, most people I know are a bit overwhelmed and running from one commitment to the next. And I think the fact that we’re constantly connected to the Internet and social media contributes to our on-the-go-always-multitasking-never-unplug-or stop mindset.

For whatever reason, I think women particularly feel this pressure. Certainly, the modern feminist movement was very successful in imposing the “women can and should have and do it all” mindset. Unfortunately, this infiltrates all women’s thoughts, whatever our life stage, and sets unrealistic expectations. Instead of achieving empowered, super-woman status, it leaves many of us exhausted, unsatisfied, disappointed, and frustrated.

Perhaps it’s time to take a break from the crazed culture and reflect on the nature and cause of our busyness. Here are 5 reasons to slow down this summer:

  1. Relationships. When times are harried, relationships and friendships are sometimes the first to suffer. If we find ourselves unable to spend valuable time with those closest to us, that is a good sign that a schedule “cleanse” is necessary. Women are particularly relational. Maintaining and cultivating relationships is so important to us and to those around us.
  2. Overcommitting is Undervaluing. We often aim to please people, which can make it very difficult to say “no.” We often find ourselves way overcommitted to a variety of things. They all may be good and productive activities, but that does not mean we should be doing all of them all at the same time. This usually leaves everyone worse off and prevents us from making really positive contributions in other areas. Focusing on fewer matters increases the value of our commitments to them and demonstrates more respect for others involved.
  3. Just be. Our fast-paced society can make it seem wrong or lazy to schedule free time, which is so unfortunate. Leaving time to relax or to really enjoy the simple things in life actually makes us more productive.
  4. True Priorities. In the midst of chaotic schedules and self-imposed to-do lists, real priorities are frequently shoved out of the way. I think it’s helpful to identify a very short list of must-do’s (e.g., sleep, exercise, prayer, family time), commit to doing them no matter what, and trust that everything else will fall into place.
  5. Life is Short. Running hurriedly from one thing to the next often leaves the days a blur. We are here for such a short time. It is so easy to lose sight of that in our goal-oriented, always-on culture. I think it’s worth stopping occasionally to assess whether truly important parts of life are being buried in deference to “busy.”

There may be times (days, weeks, or months) where it is, or at least feels, almost impossible to slow down. Many circumstances are beyond are control. To the extent possible, however, I think it’s worth reevaluating and restructuring our days to leave room to breathe.

There are 24 hours in a day. It can often seem like there is not enough time to complete everything on our to-do lists. Remember, though, that God didn’t err in the amount of time He gave us to accomplish all that He wants us to do. This summer, sit down, grab a glass of lemonade, and bask in that truth.

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