Episode 065: 10 Simple Ways to Slow Down for Type-A People
Are you a Type A person who's always-on-the-go, crossing off *our* (because I’m one of ‘em 🙋🏻♀️) to-do lists and attached to your phone, tablet, or laptop - or maybe even all three at once?
Then when you start to shows signs of stress, like breakouts, fatigue and other health issues and you’re asked, “How’s your stress levels?” you might not even realize that you're stressed...#amright? 👀
So we’re told that we have to slow down and take it easy, but neither comes naturally to us. In fact, it’s a learned behavior that we have to constantly and actively work on. 💆🏻♀️
In this episode, I'm sharing ten simple ways to slow down for Type-A people!
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Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Hi there! Welcome back to another episode of The Live FAB Podcast. I’m your host, Naomi Nakamura.
In last week’s episode, Episode 064, we explored whether stress is really such a big deal and we even got a little into the trenches on how stress impacts your nervous systems and what the physiological responses to stressors are.
And in sharing my history with stress, I talked a lot about how I internalize a lot of my stress and how it’s deeply rooted in my personality, being a Type A person.
And I heard from so many of you, how you can relate because you’re a Type A-er too and like me, do take some pride in this.
So today, I’m dusting off an old blog post I wrote about two years ago and sharing 10 ways that we Type-A’ers can teach ourselves to slow down. Because for high energy, ambitious folks like us, slowing down doesn’t come naturally to us. It’s a learned behavior that we have to teach ourselves and actively work on.
Now we Type A people, we’re always on the go, am I right? Whether physically on the go, or, our minds are always on the go, meaning always on, whether that means crossing off our to-do lists or attached to our phones, tablets, or laptops - or maybe even all three at once! Hey, I’ve done this before - more times than I’d like to admit!
We live by this kind of hype right? I mean, it defines us! So much so that when asked how’s our stress levels, we might even feel like we’re not suffering from any stress, right?
But here’s the cold hard truth - the Type-A personality and lifestyle in and of itself is a stressor.
I know, I know, I was a little offended when I heard that too, and then wondered why my adrenals were depleted, why I couldn’t sleep and why my cortisol tests came back all over the place!
Here’s what my typical day back then looked like:
My alarm went off every day at 5 am. But really, I’m that person, like Kramer from Seinfeld. I wasn’t a huge Seinfield watcher, but man that episode, about Kramer’s natural body alarm clock? That resonated with me because that was me!
Set my alarm for 6 am, I’ll wake up at 5. I used to set my alarm at 5 am every day which mean I was up around 4. Like clockwork, every single day - weekends included!
I’d jump out of bed, and wash up and by 5:15 am I was dressed and ready for my workout.
I’d scarf down a banana because I thought that I was properly fueling my workout, which lets get real, wasn’t like it was more than an hour on a weekend, so fueling wasn’t even that necessary if I’d eating a nourishing meal the night before…. Then by 5:30 am, only 30 minutes after my body woke up, I’d be out the door for a run or off to the gym.
As soon as my workout was over, I’d rush home, jump in the shower and get ready for work.
It was also about this period that my hair, makeup, and wardrobe took a backseat to all of this because every minute of this daily routine mattered and I just couldn’t be bothered with those things anymore.
After I was decently dressed for the day, I’d hastily make a breakfast smoothie, something I still love to do today, then I’d pack my lunch bag, my work and laptop bags, my handbag and any other “bag” that I needed that like - like say, a gym bag for my second or third workout later that day.
You could say that I was a crazy bag lady!
During this time, I worked outside of my home. My office was only about 10 miles away, but in the Bay Area, distance doesn’t determine traffic. So I’d sit in traffic - which is a BIG stressor.
But while I inched along the freeway, I’d be checking my phone, reading my work emails to mentally prepare myself for the office. Or sometimes, my work day would start with conference calls that I took in my car.
Confession: I didn’t have Bluetooth back then so yes, I was a dangerous driver.
As soon as I sat down in my cubicle, I had an overflowing inbox, deadlines, meetings and a host very micro-managing people in leadership positions that I worked with.
If you’ve ever worked for someone who’s a micromanager, you know how aggravating and stressful it is. Imagine working for an entire group of them. Fun times.
By the end of the workday, I’d either be stressed trying to make it to a group exercise or yoga class in time - how ironic is that - stressed out trying to get to yoga in time - while I sat in the painful evening commute.
By the time I got home, I had just enough time to scrape together some dinner, unpack my bags only to repack them for the next day and then go to bed.
And then I got to get up and do it all over again the next day!
Does this sound familiar to you? Can you relate?
The sad thing about this was that it was all self-imposed. I didn’t need to get up every day at 5 am. I certainly didn’t need to work out every day at 6 am, and half the stress of my 6 am workout was so that I could get to my group exercise class in time to be in the front row. Or to get to the track before anyone else did. Nor did I need to do a second or third workout.
It was all my Type A, overachieving tendencies.
And when I look back at this period of my life, what was missing, from the insane DAILY schedule was downtime and connection.
Time spent with friends and loved ones.
During that phase of my life, I thought that I just didn’t have the capacity to add anything else on my plate but in hindsight, a lesson I took away from all of this is that there’s always time.
There’s always time to connect with someone, no matter who they are, no matter where they are, yet most of us are so disconnected from the people closest to us!
We have more devices and apps, now than ever, to simplify our tasks and make us more productive, to accomplish more things faster than before and yet our to-do lists have never been longer.
And I can attest to this! I just spent the past weekend setting my goals and planning out my business plan for 2019. While the rest of the world is winding down for the holiday season, those of us in the health and wellness space - we’re gearing up for our busiest season of the year. And my to-do list is a mile long. So I have to be very careful not to just replace running with entrepreneurship…
So here's the bottom line - life is short, and time flies, especially in today’s fast-paced world.
And if we don't take the time to slow down and be present - to enjoy the moment, it WILL pass you by.
But for some of us, the Type A’ers who are so wired always to be on the go; we just don't know HOW to do that!
You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand because like I said, this is a learned skill for me and something that I really have to work at. I mean, when I think of vacation, I’m like, “YES, UNINTERRUPTED TIME TO WORK ON MY BUSINESS!”
But that’s not vacation...
Am I perfect? Hell no - I’m a work-in-progress, so here are some tips that I have been doing that’s helped me learn how to slow down and enjoy life and focus only on the important parts of my day.
1 | Set aside time to prioritize my daily objectives By focusing on the most important tasks for the day, I’m able to eliminate the hustle and stress of trying to accomplish everything at once.
There have been days where I am literally trying to work on five things at once and I’ll get a call or a Voxer message, hang up and then have no idea what I was just doing.
So when I’m on my game, I’ll spend Sunday night or first thing on Monday morning planning out my week with a CEO Hour, something I learned from Racheal Cook.
Then, at the end of every day, I’ll review my to-do list and pick three things (only 3!) that I’ll work on the next day. Sometimes its super hard to only pick three things, so I have to make sure that those the things that will make the most impact on what my top three things are for the week. This helps me to stay focused. If I can get my top three things done early, then anything else I’m able to do is just gravy!
A tip that I have here is to find the right tools and systems that will help you. I’m not going to tell you that one particular planner or app is the best one to use because we are all so different. For example, I hate planners that the hours listed in them. I just my Google calendar to schedule my hours and I’m not going rewrite everything in a paper planner.
If you are interested in what I do, its a combination of Google Calendar for my overall schedule, Asana for project planning.
I also use an Erin Condren planner for mapping out the bigger projects for my business only - events, promotions, new programs, those type of things. Seems like a lot of tools, but it’s what works for me right now, so you find the tools and create the systems that will work for you.
2 | Cut your personal internet use by half
Oooh, this is a juicy one!
Technology is a big element in most of our lives. No doubt, it is in mine and it’s also a significant part of me running my business.
But the personal use part can definitely be minimized.
Social networking, email, Googling, Wikipedia’ing while watching a show, Amazon shopping, keeping up with my maxed out amount of Words With Friends Games - it’s no wonder we have short attention spans and lose focus so easily! Our minds are wandering through hundreds of topics, thoughts, and ideas all at once!
I’m trying to reduce my mindless idle, personal online time by spending it outside with Coco Pop - taking her to the beach, the park, or going out for a long walk. Or doing a new workout at the gym, meeting up with friends and just connecting with people in real life. This is one thing that I really appreciate about my work with Beautycounter because it’s forced me to get out and be social again! Ironically, it was training for marathons all the time that had me losing touch with old friends. Some people might think that I’m only focusing on online connections for my business, but a large part of it has come from in-person connections too!
When it comes to reducing screen time, one thing that I’ve found helpful is to close all of my browser tabs and turn off ALL push notifications on your phone. In fact, the only notifications I now get on my phone are phone calls, text messages, and sports scores. This has been a huge help in reducing my distractions!
3 | Enjoy the outdoors
When you start to prioritize your to-do list and reduce your screen time, you just may find yourself with extra hours in the day. Use this time to take a break. Go for a walk, listen to an audiobook or podcast and breathe in some fresh air.
I remember the first time I went out for a walk - not a run - I thought it was the biggest time waster because I could do the distance in half the time if I ran. But that was the besides the point.
If you recall in Episode 064, we talked a lot about tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as your rest and digest state. Being outside in the fresh air, moving your body in a gentle way will do wonders to help you with that.
And, speaking from personal experience, the best ideas come to me when I’m out on a walk so its still a productive time!
4 | Slow Down and Chew!
Are you a fast eater? Are you always the first one at the table to finish your meal?
That’s totally me!
But when I learned that fully and completely chewing your food helps with the physical process of digestion, and ultimately gut health and you all know how in Functional Nutrition, gut health is the foundation of all health - when I started being more mindful of how well I chewed my food, I realized that I more fully was able to appreciate the different flavors and textures of food.
When you pay attention to your chewing, you’ll naturally slow down your eating, which will then lead to better digestion and gut health, AND you’ll begin to distinguish new tastes, aromas, and consistencies!
As a side note, noticing new flavors, tastes and textures help me with my cooking skills to be able to throw together meals without always having to follow recipes!
5 | Connect with family and friends We all say want to spend more time our friends and family, but how often do we make the time for it?
Sure we’re connected on social media, and we text each other, but how often do we catch up in a meaningful way where we’re truly listening and connecting?
I once had a manager who was very into body language, which was fine, but he would always call it out. It was very awkward and uncomfortable, but I get what he meant.
And being in the presence of other humans allows us to connect on a deeper level.
As someone who’s not married, and thankfully, does not have roommates, if I don’t make the effort to connect with my family and friends in person, I can go days without seeing anyone.
And I’m not usually one to get lonely but going too many days without connecting can sometimes feel that way.
So put away the cell phones, steer clear of noisy environments, and allow yourself to connect with your community on a deeper level.
6 | Make time for yourself
Okay, I just talked about connecting with other people, but if you’re always around other people, it’s equally important to make time for yourself.
Be honest, when was the last time you had quality downtime with yourself?
I challenge you to designate one night on your calendar a month to read that book you've been wanting to read for months, take an Epsom salt bath, get a massage, watch a movie or simply do some meditation and restorative yoga.
All these things will help you tap into your parasympathetic nervous system and will do wonders for your stress level!
7 | Give yourself more time
Us Type-A’ers, we like to stick to a plan which is usually wrapped around a tight schedule.
But how about this - and I had to learn to do this myself, which is why I have different tools in my planning system…
The next time you’re writing out your to-do list, factor in a realistic estimate of how long those tasks will actually take. I found that I wasn’t doing this, so tasks were taking longer than anticipated which made me anxious and overwhelmed.
I mentioned I use Google calendar and I have different categories for different things so my calendar is prettily color-coded. Well, I started scheduling EVERYTHING on my calendar, including lunch, walk breaks, downtime and someone saw it and told me it stressed them out.
It doesn’t have that same effect on me because I designate a time for everything I want to do in a day, including all the downtime and self-care practices so I actually don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed.
8 | Take the scenic route
I talked about traffic being horrendous and if I’m honest, I have very little tolerance for it because its such a time waster because like many of us, I’m usually in a rush to get from one place to another.
Here on the Peninsula, in the Bay Area where I live, we have two freeways - 101 and 280.
I primarily take 101 because its the shorter route to most of the places that I go, but it also is for everyone else, so 101 is usually very crowded.
On the other hand, 280 is the longer route. It’s hilly, less lighted and further out of the way, but its also much more scenic.
So sometimes, every though its a little out of the way, I’ll take the scenic route, or “Bay Area backroads” just to appreciate what it has to offer.
The next time you’re on the road, or even on a road trip, whether it's across town or several hours away, try taking the scenic route.
Driving through open fields, along the coast, through the mountains, or viewing a city skyline - it can be a simple way to add a little extra into your day.
9 | Sit for a minute with your eyes closed before you turn on your laptop
We hear a lot about meditation and how helpful it is for so many people. It can also be a little strange, especially for the Type A. I remember feeling so awkward the first time I tried it.
If you can relate, don’t worry - this is a totally normal feeling! The good news is that you don’t have to do formal meditation sessions if they don’t feel right for you - at least at first.
In Episode 064, I talked about the power of the breath - deep breathing is a powerful thing. And its the simplest way to calm your nerves, quiet your mind and beat overwhelm.
So how about, before you turn on your laptop to start your day, or pick up your phone, how about taking a minute to sit down quietly, close your eyes and take a few deeps breathes before you dive into the craziness of the day.
I recently got an Apple watch and it has these alerts reminding me to move but also to take breathing breaks. I mean even Apple knows that deep breathing can be tremendously helpful in managing your stress and ultimately your health.
And the best thing is that it doesn’t take a lot of effort!
Just a few moments of deep breathing can set the tone for the rest of your day. Take a minute to empty your mind with deep breaths before jumping into your day’s work.
10 | Remember your "why"
Long-time listeners have heard me talk about how having a morning routine really helps me set the tone for my day.
When I first wake up in the morning some of my first thoughts are, “What day is it?” and “What’s the first thing on my calendar that day?”
But on days when I take a few moments to think about goals - long and short-term ones, as well as aspirations.
I also try to spend about 5-minutes doing some writing, using a practice I’ve talked about before called, “Early Morning Pages.”
One thing that I think is important to add in is to take time to recall milestones and things we’re proud of. My friend, Katie Leadbetter, who I’ve had for several episodes, had tagged me in an Instagram challenge to post what accomplishments I’m most proud of.
And it took me a long time, a few days, to come up with three! And I realized that as a Type-A’er, I’m so driven to achieve, I don’t take time to pause and appreciate what I’ve accomplished and I do think its an important thing to take stock on.
So to recap, the ten simple ways for Type A people to slow down are:
Set aside time to prioritize the top three things to focus on every day Cut your personal internet use in half Enjoy the outdoors Slow down and chew! Connect with people in real life Make time for yourself Gift yourself more time Take the scenic route Sit for a minute at your laptop with your eyes closed before you dive into your work day Remember your “why”
Yes, clean eating and exercising are essential, but it has to be in the balance with everything else going on in the rest of your life.
I know that for many of us, achievement and high energy is engrained into our personality, but it’s so critical to take time to slow down, learn how to manage your stress, prioritize sleep, eat all the veggies in the world and generally enjoy life!
This doesn’t come naturally for all of us and it doesn’t come naturally to me, which is why I know that I have to keep myself in check and remind myself to do these things too.
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
Come on over to the show notes, or find me on Instagram and share with me your best tips on how to slow down, especially if you identify as a Type A person too.
You’ll find the show notes for this episode at www.livefablife.com/065.
And while you’re there, be sure you subscribe and join my email list for weekly updates and behind-the-scenes exclusive. You can even sign up to be notified when my new program opens in early 2019!
Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate your time and your attention, and I’ll see you next week!
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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.