5 effective tips to slow down time and savour the moment

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The older we get, the faster the years pass, but what if there was a way to slow things down and savour every moment?

5 effective tips to slow down time and savour the moment

Do you remember how long the summer holidays felt when you were a kid? Weeks stretched out like aeons, and the next school year was but a distant dream. As we grow up, those weeks seem to shrink. Suddenly, we find ourselves in disbelief – not quite sure how another year has passed.

Time is a tricky thing, and our perception of it can stretch and shrink. When we’re young, we haven’t got many years under our belts, so it tracks that years feel longer (for a 10-year-old, one year is 10% of their life). Children are also developing, soaking up new information and growing. They’re having more new experiences, and creating formative memories.

As adults, one year feels like a blink of an eye compared to the number of years we’ve been around. We have far fewer new experiences, and tend not to be learning and growing at such a rapid pace. Days become more formulaic and predictable, making them seamlessly blend together. After all, our brains can only hold onto a certain amount of memories, so unless we do something out of the ordinary, we’re likely to let go of the same-y ones.

Now we understand why time rushes past as we age, what can we do to slow our perception of time?

1. Inject some new experiences

Routine and sameness makes the days whizz by, so try to incorporate spontaneity into your life. Taking trips to explore new places, learning a new skill, and connecting with new people are all brilliant ways to do this, but it can be as simple as finding a different lunchtime walking route, or changing up where you’re working from.

Tap into your inner child and see the world through their lens. Ask ‘Why?’ more often, say yes even when it scares you, and follow the threads of your curiosity – see where you end up.

2. Pay attention and savour more

An easy way to hit the pause button in your daily life is to be more mindful and pay attention. This may be noticing the gorgeous light streaming through the window, taking a minute to relish your morning coffee, or even being fully present during a conversation.

Savouring is about really enjoying and taking in every detail of something. This may look like going for a walk and focusing on the way the sunshine feels on your skin, or taking pictures of the flowers you pass. Try engaging all your senses and notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. When we stop to pay attention, we pull ourselves out of auto-pilot, and plant ourselves in the present.

3. Start single-tasking

When we try to do many things at once, our attention flits around like a butterfly which, understandably, can make it feel as if time’s going by faster. Single-tasking encourages us to focus on one thing at a time which, as well as improving productivity, can help us slow down the perception of time.

So, next time you have a task to do, shut out any distractions and focus on that, and only that.

4. Carve out some white space

The more we stuff our time with to-dos, the more our days feel rushed. We slip into reactive mode, and lack a sense of spaciousness. One way to change this is to intentionally

How to cope with worldwide tragedies

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What can we do when our news feeds are filled with tragedy?

How to cope with worldwide tragedies

Worldwide tragedies feel like they’re happening more and more these days. This is likely thanks to social media, 24/7 news broadcasting and the Internet in general which has the power to update us on traumatic events unfolding in real-time.

While scrolling on TikTok yesterday (an app I typically use for lighthearted, funny content) a live news segment interrupted my feed, discussing a school shooting in Texas. This morning many of us have woken up to the terrible news that 19 children and two adults have been killed.

I don’t have children, I don’t live in America, but of course this doesn’t stop news like this affecting me. We don’t have to be close to a situation to understand the impact.

Following Covid, many of us have been left feeling almost hypervigilant, more attuned to bad/scary/worrying news than before. This can make dealing with a world tragedy even more difficult, even if we aren’t directly affected.

So what can we do when we witness tragedy, injustice and traumatic events?

Let yourself feel your feelings

Give yourself a little space to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Let the tears come, let the anger rise. If you can, pour this out in a healthy way - perhaps writing in a journal or talking it through with a loved one. When we bury negative emotions, they can bubble up when we least expect it.

Zoom in

Once you’ve had some space to feel your feelings, zoom in to where you are right now. Notice where you are, who you’re with, what’s around you. Hopefully you are somewhere safe, so remind yourself of this. Say to yourself “I am safe” and focus on breathing (try this breathing technique). Sometimes when we witness tragedy, our brain reacts as if we’re there, so it’s important to ground ourselves in the present to reiterate that we’re OK.

Zoom out

Now it’s time to zoom out and consider all the good that’s happening in both your world, and the wider world. When bad news floods our feeds, it’s easy to be consumed by it. Take some time to step back and recognise what brilliant things are happening in your life right now to help you tap into gratitude. Then try to expand this to acknowledge the wonderful things happening worldwide to help develop optimism, search for positive news stories online and see what comes up.

Remember you can hold both grief and hope

We are complex beings and can hold complex emotions. If you’ve managed to find a sense of gratitude, optimism and hope by doing the above, remember this is OK. You can still feel grief at the tragedy, you still care. This life isn’t black or white, it’s a rainbow of emotions and we can feel a range at any one time.

Take action

Often when we learn about worldwide tragedies we can feel angry, angry at the injustice of it all. Something that can help this is to take action. This may be by donating to charities to support those affected, giving blood, signing petitions or even spreading the word about the cause. Feeling like you’re doi

Habit stacking: the new game plan for change

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Is it possible to build new habits by taking advantage of old ones?

Habit stacking: the new game plan for change

When you’re trying to make a change, whether it’s wanting to improve your work performance, make healthier choices, or to save more money, one of the challenges is ensuring the changes stick. It’s hard. Behaviour change requires discipline and, when life is busy, it’s all too easy to find excuses that prevent you from making new routines and lifestyle choices a priority.

But you do have something at your disposal that can help – your current daily habits. Yes, one of the most efficient ways to build new behaviours is to identify an existing habit that you can ‘stack’ a new behaviour on top of.

Habit stacking is a form of implementation intention and, according to life coach and therapist Claire Elmes, it’s one of the most effective techniques you can use for successfully introducing new habits.

“The idea is to use an already existing habit to help organise your new habits sensibly and logically,” says Claire. “The existing behaviour acts as a ‘trigger’, so you are teaching your brain that, when you have completed your existing habit, you then do your new one.”

How does habit stacking work?

The habit stacking formula is simple: ‘After/before [current habit], I will [new habit].’

It could be:

  • Before I brush my teeth each morning, I will meditate for two minutes.
  • After I sit down to eat dinner, I will think of one positive thing that happened today.
  • Before I turn the light off at night, I will kiss my partner.

Habit stacking works because your current habits are well-ingrained.“Tagging new habits onto ones that we do unconsciously allows the process to feel manageable and achievable, allowing more chances for success,” says Claire.

Once you get the hang of it, you can start to create larger stacks by linking more and more habits together. You can even create general habit stacks to guide you whenever the situation is appropriate. For example:

  • If I see a set of stairs, I will take them instead of using the lift/escalator.
  • When I go to a party, I will introduce myself to someone I don’t know.
  • If I buy a new item of clothing, I will donate one to charity.

Tips for success with habit stacking

1. Look at the bigger picture

Where and when you choose to place a habit into your routine is important. You need to think about the best window of opportunity for when you’re most likely to be successful.

“If you’re looking to include 10 minutes of yoga in your day, it would be helpful to consider where this will naturally fit into your routine,” advises Claire.

“It might be as soon as you wake up, after getting dressed, when you’re having a cup of tea/coffee, or when you’re fully ready. You might decide that after you make your coffee, you’ll do your 10 minutes of yoga while it’s cooling down, and then you can drink your coffee.”

2. Be specific with your cue

Goals like ‘read more’ or ‘eat healthier’ are worthy causes, but the inten

Cost of living crisis: how to protect your money and mental health

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As the cost of living increases, we’re looking at how you can mind both your money and your mental health

Cost of living crisis: how to protect your money and mental health

Recently, it’s felt like we’re stuck in a stream of mounting pressure, as we’ve faced one thing after another. And with the cost of living on the rise, many of us will be worried about the immediate future.

The Resolution Foundation Think Tank estimates that an extra 1.3 million people will fall into absolute poverty in 2023, including 500,000 children – and middle-earners will likely also feel the strain as bills and monthly outgoings rise.

It goes without saying that this is going to have an impact on our mental health, as financial wellbeing and mental health are connected. In a survey of more than 1,000 people by the mental health charity Mind, 73% reported that when their mental health is poor, they struggle more to manage their money, and 74% also said that difficulty managing money then went on to affect their mental health.

“If you live with mental illness you may be on a reduced income, face increased costs, or find it hard to budget, while money worries can also place pressure on your mental health, leading to increased stress, worry, and anxiety,” Laura Peters, head of mental health and money advice at the charity Mental Health UK, explains. “This can create a worrying cycle that can impact other aspects of your life, such as your relationships, work, or where you live. Improving your financial security and understanding the best way to manage your money can have a hugely positive impact on your mental health.”

Money where your mouth is

But, truth be told, even just talking about money can be difficult, let alone taking steps to manage it. Of course, speaking about it is the first step to getting help – both practical tips and emotional support – but our fears and anxieties are often an additional barrier.

“There are lots of reasons why people find it hard to talk about money worries,” Laura says. “Parents or carers might feel pressure to support loved ones who rely on them. Some of us might feel like we want to keep up with friends, even though we can’t afford to match their spending habits. And many people in debt tell us they feel a huge amount of shame and stigma around their situation.”

In research by the Money & Pensions service in 2020, which surveyed more than 5,200 people across the UK, researchers found that nearly half the adult population (48%) say they have worried about money once a week or more in the past month. It would be fair to say that that number may have risen in 2022, but the survey also looked into the most common reasons why UK adults avoid talking about their money situation, finding ‘Shame/embarrassment’, ‘Not wanting to burden others’, ‘It’s not how they were brought up’, ‘It causes stress or anxiety’, and ‘Thinking they should be more successful than they are’ were among the top causes.

“Money worries can make people feel really isolated, but a lot of people will experience money worries at some point in their lives,” Laura says. “You are not alone, and it’s

Tips for flying when you have a mental illness

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Travelling by plane can be a uniquely challenging experience, so we’re sharing our tips to avoid any turbulence

Tips for flying when you have a mental illness

The stress, lack of sleep, crowded airports, and culture shock of far-flung soils are all known triggers for those with mental illness. Some years ago, I attempted to board a flight to Ibiza, but had to check out at the last minute due to some mild hallucinations which make up part of my schizo-affective disorder – I thought I could see people from the past at the airport which disturbed me.

According to the World Health Organisation, severe mental illness contributes to one in three health crises in air travel. There’s also been a paper in Psychiatric Times that looks into the subject of travelling with a severe mental illness, which says that 20% of travel incidents have been described as ‘psychotic’.

All this to say: if you worry about air travel, you’re not alone.

The good news is that, with some strong planning and the right tools for relaxation, you can travel safely and happily with a mental illness like mine.

Since the ill-fated flight to Ibiza, I’ve flown to Barcelona and Belfast happily, calmly, and incident-free. With the help of transformational coach Kanika Tandon’s expert advice, we’re exploring some essential tips for flying with a mental illness.

1. Take your medication

It’s crucial that medication is factored into travel to prevent relapse. As luggage can sometimes be lost, you can take your medication in hand luggage to keep it near you at all times, which can give you some peace of mind. For the stay, a pharmacy can sort out a scheduled pack of medication for each day. Plus, don’t forget to order any repeat prescriptions in advance to cover your time away.

Kanika supports these sentiments, adding that it’s important to factor in medication when you prepare for your flight: “Take all your necessary medication in advance and have all you might need.”

2. Stay calm and breathe

“Stay calm and take some deep breaths,” says Kanika. “Using exercises, such as square breathing [breathe in for the count of four, hold for four, breathe out for four, and hold for four] or 7-11 breathing [breathe in for the count of seven and out for the count of 11] to stay calm.”

Some other tested ways to relax before, during, and after your journey are to order a camomile tea, take lavender oils to inhale, and listen to soothing music. I found leather recliners you could pay to relax on at Liverpool airport once. These had built-in massagers, and were helpful in soothing me before my journey.

3. Stay out of your mind

“Trying to engage in senses other than your thoughts can be a distraction to worry and panic,” says Kanika. “Staying out of your mind means that you keep all your five senses engaged. What do you see, feel, hear, taste, and smell during your journey?

Any scents that you associate with relaxation can work well. For instance, peppermint, or lavender for staying calm.”

4. Try therapy

“You may wish to consult a therapist before you travel,”