March 2024

By Jeannine Moga, MA, MSW, LCSW

In Praise of the “Slow Day”

In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Jeannine Moga, MA, MSW, LCSW talks about the deliberate practice of taking some time out to disconnect from the demands of daily routines, technology, and social pressures. Check out these suggestions; by exploring and committing to one or more of these acts of self-care, you might find one (or several) that work for you!

I distinctly remember looking forward to winter when I was a kid, mostly because winter brought with it the possibility of a snow day. (And who doesn’t love a day filled with naps and hot chocolate and ZERO school?). Living in Minnesota for many years led to the adult realization that snow days just didn’t happen. There was no amount of snow, no weather foul enough to keep children or adults snugged up at home for a freebie. This does not mean, however, that my desire to press pause – to get off the roller coaster of deadlines and commitments and general adulting – has been erased.

Fast forward many years. It’s not just the snow days that are hard to come by – it’s any day that isn’t filled with an endless to-do list. And whether I’m on the clock or not, those days are also filled with constant screens, the yawp of social media, and a 24/7 news cycle that cranks out updates with my morning alarm.

At the end of 2023, I was feeling that familiar sense of frazzled. I asked myself why I seemed so committed to (as author Elizabeth Gilbert has called it) ‘worshipping at the altar of busy’? I started wondering why I always felt so pressed to fill up every ounce of my time with more work. What would happen if I started allowing myself to take a slow day?
Not snow day. A slow day. A day of intentional rest. A day of no screens. A day to dilly-dally, nap, daydream, putz and play.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

In some faith practices, a day of rest is called Sabbath. I grew up in a household that was marginally religious. While we sometimes attended services on Sundays, that day of the week was more often reserved as a “Family Day.” On Family Day, my siblings and I weren’t allowed to hang out with friends or do mountains of homework. Nor was that the day for chores. Sundays were the day carved out for observing a different sense of time. We rested, created small adventures, dawdled, and ate together.

I thought about this practice and resolved to give myself one dedicated day each week to re-familiarize myself with “slow.” Now that we’re well into 2024 (and most New Years resolutions have fallen by the wayside), I am happy to say that my goal to observe a “slow day” every week is holding firm. A slow day will look different for everyone, but for me it must:

1) Be intentional. It can fall on any day of the week, but it must be consistently carved into the calendar as a day of rest.

2) Be fiercely guarded. No squeezing in an appointment, no catching up on work. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.

3) Be agenda-less. If every moment of a slow day is filled with stuff, it no longer qualifies as “slow.”

4) Exclude social media. For me, social media is a thief of time and peace.

5) Exclude social commitments. I allow myself to not be needed.

6) Exclude screen work. Laptops are turned off; phones and tablets are put down.

7) Include a meaningful ritual. For me, it is taking my elderly dog for a walk in the woods. It’s our Sunday “Stroll and Sniff.” She loves it, and it forces me to be present without constantly attending to the clock.

8) Include a few moments of connection. If a friend or family member pops up into my mind, I make a point to pick up the phone so we can connect voice-to-voice.

9) Include creative time, just for kicks and giggles. Working with my hands quiets my brain. This can take the form of gardening, baking something from scratch, or making an unbridled mess with a pile of craft supplies.

10) Include pondering. Pondering allows my brain to freely wander without focus or goal. Pondering often begins on its own once I step away from screens and give myself some space to breathe.

What’s your favorite way to slow down? And can you commit to making the “slow day” part of your self-care?

  1. Every other Monday is Mental Health Monday for me. After working a crazy weekend in emergency, I allow my self a day of “nothing”. No phone calls, or text message, PJ’s on the couch, snuggle with my cats, read a book, or binge a favor show.

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