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Health & Balance

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8 Reasons To Slooow Down

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Janis Graham

Redbook Magazine Logo

Winding down the pace of your life just a tad can make you happier and healthier. Here's how!

The Hurried Woman Syndrome. The good news: If you can learn to rush just a little bit less, studies show that you'll lower your risk for high blood pressure, have better relationships, and live longer. And no, you don't have to overhaul your schedule. "Slowing down just a few moments a day can be beneficial to your health," says Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., coauthor of Stress Free for Good. Below, the sweet rewards of downshifting — and simple ways to take it slow.

1. Slow down to lose weight.

One surprising source of stubborn extra pounds: eating on the fly. Gobbling your food doesn't give your stomach the 20 minutes it needs to signal your brain that it's full, making it easy to unknowingly cram in more calories than you need. What's more, postponing lunch or dinner to finish that one last thing slows calorie burn, according to a British study: If your body can't predict the timing of its next meal, it's more likely to store calories as fat as protection against starvation.

How to take it slow: Instead of wolfing down a meal mindlessly while you're watching TV or catching up on e-mail, turn off the technology and really chew each mouthful mindfully, paying close attention to the flavors and textures, suggests Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet. You'll learn to appreciate that eating is feeding your body and spirit. "And when you don't eat on autopilot, you naturally eat a little less," says Somer. Think about it: If you realize you're full before taking those final few bites and drop your fork, you may cut out as many as 100 calories a day — which is all it takes to drop 10 pounds in a year. So give yourself at least 20 minutes to enjoy a meal.

2. Slow down to be a better mom.

It's not easy to truly connect with your kids when there are toys to pick up, meals to prepare, and endless other chores to get done around the house. But the less time you spend doing things with your children when they're young, the greater the odds that you'll run into family conflict — quarreling frequently about curfews, smoking, alcohol use — when they hit adolescence, according to a study from the Netherlands.

How to take it slow: You don't necessarily need more time with your kids; you simply need to use the time you do have a little differently — namely, by focusing your full attention on the little moments. For instance, instead of assembling lunchboxes at the kitchen counter while your children eat breakfast, sit at the table with them and chat for a few minutes while sipping your coffee. Or stop folding laundry for five minutes and help build a Lego castle. These short bursts of shared do-nothing time really count: They let children know they're valued and loved and keep you in touch with the fulfilling joys of motherhood — plus, they pave the way for better communication when your kids hit their turbulent teens.

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