Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

How to Slow Down Your Busy Life

If you want a slower life, you have to get off the hamster wheel.

Ever find yourself feeling like a hamster on a wheel? Perhaps you’ve been going so fast in your life that you felt like you were in a centrifuge—pinned by have-tos against the walls of your days as everything flies past in one big blur. It can be exhausting, leaving you with a sense of helplessness.

It’s essential at times like this that you remember the choices you do have. More often than not, when people take a serious look at their lives, there are important, helpful changes they can make—if not in that very moment, then at some foreseeable time. Three fundamental ways you can improve your overly packed life are as follows:

Do less. Appreciating, enjoying, and savoring life doesn't just happen. You must first have the clarity of focus to pay attention to what could be making you happy in the moment—something you can’t have if you are constantly worrying about what else needs to be done. But, if you cram less in your day, allowing for some “empty” spaces, then you’ll find that you no longer feel dizzy from constant running. You can slow down what you are doing and pay attention to positives in the moment, which just might make you happy.

Do more self-care. You hear it all the time if you pay any attention to the advice out there on living a healthy life: eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. The reason this advice is all over the place is that it works. So redirect all that energy you use to find excuses into making these things happen.

Do something you enjoy. You can’t have a happy life if there isn’t anything you do that you enjoy. So take the time to figure out what those things are and then do them—often.

If you don’t know where to start, simply pay attention to yourself. What interests you? What do you think might interest you? What used to interest you? You don’t have to know what you would enjoy—only what might enjoy. Then it’s a matter of “trying things on,” much as you try on clothes in a store to decide whether you think they are the right fit for you.

Do more “being” and less “doing.” To slow your life down from a dizzying blur to a positive experience, you need time to just be. You can do this in many ways, such as going for a walk, sitting quietly with a cup of tea, or meditating. What’s most important is that you allow yourself to appreciate the moment.

By following this advice, you are essentially choosing to slow down the hamster wheel. Rather than continuing to be carried by a momentum that overtakes you, you will feel more in charge of the pace and direction of your life. And, you will likely find that you enjoy the ride!

(I am sharing the video below to offer some perspective on what your life might be feeling like if you are overcome by the speed of your life as you continue to race forward. You can hear people laughing, but it's probably not so funny when you are the hamster.)

Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice and is on the medical staff at Robert Wood Johnson, Somerset in Somerville, NJ. She is also a regular contributor for the WebMD blog Relationships and is the relationship expert on WebMD’s Relationships and Coping Community.

New Harbinger Publications

Dr. Becker-Phelps is also the author of Insecure in Love.

If you would like email notification of new blog postings by Dr. Becker-Phelps, click here.

Making Change blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional assistance.

Personal change through compassionate self-awareness

More from Psychology Today

More from Leslie Becker-Phelps Ph.D.

More from Psychology Today