Escape the Christmas stress by developing the mindful habit of “wait a little”. When we take time to slow down it not only improves our well-being it can also make life more enjoyable for those who are with us. The fifth blog of this CHRISTMAS series by Val Mullally.

S is for Slow Down

When I think back to my childhood in the Africa “bush” so many images come to mind. The huge red sun dipping slowly over the horizon in the evening, swimming in the river with fish nibbling your legs, raucous birdlife of amazing colours, moths and spiders as large as saucers, dry dusty soil – and thorns.

African sun at dusk

Thorns of all shapes and sizes, each inflicting its own type of pain. People who haven’t lived in that climate cannot imagine the variety of thorn:

  • large, spear-like woody acacia thorns that cause your foot to ache for days after an unfortunate encounter
  • the annoying little paper thorns that pepper your bare feet
  • the wicked devil’s thorns, like singular wooden marbles with vicious spikes in every direction, making it impossible not to get spiked
  • And the “wag-n-bietjie” thorns – “wait a little” because when you are caught by a string of these sharp, curved thorns which hook into your flesh and clothing, you have no choice but to “wait a little” and disentangle yourself.

Wait-a-Little As a Daily Habit 

Often it is the unpleasant things like illness or injury that hook into our lives and force us to  “wag-n-bietjie”. What if we choose to slow down and notice where we are in life, rather than waiting till circumstances force us to stop.

When we slow down we become mindful –  we become more aware of new information, we notice how one thing impacts another and we become more sensitive to the intricacies of situations.

Between stimulus and response there is a space… In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” Stephen R. Covey

Within the bustle of Christmas, let’s create pleasant slow-down moments.

Time to stop for a cuddle.  To go for a walk.  To watch children playing. To do nothing. To reflect.


Slow down this Christmas and enjoy peace joy love

Make space for the things that breathe life into your being 

Wait a little –  in an inner place of quiet stillness.

Each of us needs periods in which our minds can focus inwardly. Daniel J. Siegel

One simple way is to notice your breath. Stop the rushing. Just notice your breathing – in and out. Take time to notice the beauty around you. Open the door of awareness to experiencing awe.

Awe puts on the brakes, and keeps us still and attentive. Hedy Schleifer

The word “awesome” has become an overused superlative that has lost much of its meaning. Awe is not about “cool” – awe is much deeper. It touches our souls. Awe shows up when we slow down.

Why slowing down matters

Slowing down matters for our own well-being and it matters for those who are with us. We become more aware, more attentive, and we take stock of our lives. When we slow down, we open the door to awe.

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. Henry David Thoreau. Walden 

Paul Piff says awe makes us nicer and happier: “Awe causes a kind of ‘Be Here Now!’ that seems to dissolve the self, and as a result makes us act more fairly, more generously, more ethically.”

escape Christmas stress - slow down

So over to you: 

  • What helps you to slow down? 
  • What do you see are the greatest benefits when you slow down?

Last edited December 19th 2018

morris minor cartoon


‘Double de-clutch! Yeah, I know what you mean. We used to have an old morris minor,’ laughed my friend on the other end of the phone.

My dad’s hobby was cars.  I grew up in the heart of Africa in the sixties and early seventies, which meant that I drove a number of ancient bangers that most collectors would now love to have in their classic collection. I had my licence at age sixteen and those early driving days required a whole range of skills that weren’t part of the official test but were mandatory for keeping the wheels turning.  Double de-clutching required slow and careful gear-changing to prevent the ear- jarring rasp of metal on metal. You also had to know how to push-start your car (sometimes as a solo act). Windscreen-wipers were so poor that you would periodically put your hand out the window with a cloth to try to clear the screen a little.  Steep hills were a feat in driving, with undersized engines and slow gear changing that eroded what speed you did have. When you knew you had a steep climb ahead, you accelerated as hard as you could on the downhill approaching the climb and then you prayed there would be nothing to slow your speed. Lose too much speed and you would have to stop, change back to first gear and laboriously crawl the remainder of the hill. I remember one particularly steep hill in the Matopas, Zimbabwe, where we had to roll back down and start all over again.

I think we learnt a lot of skills and patience driving those old iron steeds but now it’s great to be able to jump in my car, turn the key in the ignition and expect smooth-running travel to my destination.  We did the best we could with what we had then but what an improvement. (Have you seen the latest Audi A5 ‘Ugly Duckling’ advert? I love it!)

You may be asking what this has to do with parenting. How I see it is that you have the choice to ride in an outdated, and often inconvenient mode of Parenting, that will often feel uncomfortable and exhausting, or you can choose to trade that in for something that has taken advantage of new breakthroughs in awareness and enjoy your Parenting journey.  In either vehicle you’ll end up at the same destination but one ride will be much smoother and kinder on you all than the other.

I, for one wish, I had known when my children were young what I know now about how to parent.

Some of the key things I’ve learnt are:

– how to REALLY listen

– what exactly do we mean by self esteem, why it matters

– why Emotional Intelligence is core to your child’s success and what we as parents can do about  it

– how to use conflict as a growth opportunity

– how to discipline to get the results you really want

– the power of our negative thoughts and what to do about it

–  how to create a win-win experience for all concerned.

Would you like to ride in the equivalent of the latest Audi A5 when it comes to your Parenting?

This year is your chance to discover what a coaching approach to Parenting is all about.  The Koemba Foundation module is over three weekends, (Friday evening and full day Saturday) and commences in Tallaght, Dublin on Friday 1st February 2013.
Sign up today to benefit from our 10% Early Bird discount.

Last edited January 11th 2013