Two years ago, as October faded to a close, I felt myself fading with it. After a marathon of school, church, birthday, and holiday events, I needed to recharge. That was the beginning of what’s become my annual November Slowdown.
Each year, about this time, I step back from the breakneck pace of life and ask myself: Where am I feeling rubbed thin, and what’s the best way to rebuild?
My plan varies depending on the year’s particular stressors. For 2016, here are the top 3 culprits:
Noise. It’s everywhere, and most of it has to do with this ridiculous election. I can’t read my Facebook feed or check the headlines without being bombarded by urgent, angry, insistent voices. I need earplugs for my eyes.
Illness. After a major health upswing last year—thanks to the healing power of clean eating—the past two months could accurately be described as a nosedive. I’ve been fighting physical discomfort on several fronts, simultaneously, and I’m ready for a breather.
Work. We own two businesses. I split my time between them each day, and never manage to feel like I’ve accomplished enough by the time the clock strikes School’s Out. This constant (self-inflicted) pressure to be productive has stolen my ability to relax, and I can’t seem to get rid of the permanent knot in my belly.
There’s nothing magical about November that makes it a good time to intentionally address these stressors. If anything, it’s one of the harder months to slow down, smack in the middle of a school term and the pre-holiday buzz.
But I’ve learned my limits, and each year they seem to fall right around October 31. So here’s my plan to recharge in Slowvember.
Screens. I’m also deleting all but the essential apps from my phone, so I won’t be tempted to waste my Slowvember staring at a screen. Going screen-free has been a consistent element in my November Slowdown, and I’ve never regretted it. I usually couple it with no work in the evenings, and give myself permission to devour books to my heart’s content (see #3).
My body is fatigued. The speed of life and demands of an overwhelming workload have gotten in the way of intentional, healthy habits. I’m going to attempt to refuel in these ways:
Eat clean, with grace. Back to the greens, the bone broth, the whole foods. But not to the extent of obsession. I spent a year learning to balance “healthy” with “practical.” This is the month to practice that balance.
Move. And not on the treadmill, in front of yet another screen. All those hours in the office have left me craving the open sky. Before the winter freeze sets in, I’m going to get out into God’s creation and log some miles.
Sleep. I routinely spend eight hours in bed. Problem is, books or screens carve away large chunks of that time. Eliminating screen time is a no-brainer, but there are few pleasures in life greater than reading a good book before bed. So I’m going to make an effort to get to bed earlier, but be disciplined about setting down that novel at a reasonable hour.
When my kids have time off, they automatically know how to spend that time. They play.
My eldest makes things. My middle builds things. My youngest…well, she follows around the people who are making and building things. Point is, they indulge in things that bring them joy and recharge their batteries.
As an adult, how do I play? What brings me joy and rejuvenation? The same things that did when I was a child: reading and writing.
Wordy Wednesdays. In November, I’m taking Wednesdays off to “play.” I’ve already lined up writing dates with my friend, Lisa, and pulled a few unread books from my shelf. Wednesdays will be all about crafting and consuming words. And coffee.
Of the three elements to my November Slowdown, this is the toughest. I’m giddy about the concept of devoting an entire day each week to the activities I love most, but I know what will happen when the time comes—I’ll be tempted to feel guilty about indulging in my passions.
This is a symptom of the workaholism that’s been gradually slipping its fingers around my throat over the past few years. I’m determined not to let it rob me of much needed refreshment, and I’m so thankful for a husband who is fully supportive of losing his office manager on Wednesdays for a month.
There it is—my plan for Slowvember. If you were to create one of your own, what would it look like?
Where are you feeling rubbed thin? How do you play and rebuild?
To read more about November Slowdown, check out these posts: