Front cover slide

Welcome to a new book – and a slower, freer pace.

Are you yearning to slow down, but feel as if you’re trapped on an ever-turning wheel of tasks and stress? Read Slowing Down in a Speedstressed World. You’ll find that you aren’t trapped, and that you can slow down. Consider my award-winning book your new ally as, step by step, you create a calmer, more effective pace of life.

Back cover slide

“Bravo!” … “Read this book.” … “Extremely valuable.”

Readers are applauding Slowing Down in a Speedstressed World. The book’s kind, clear wisdom is guaranteed to guide you into slowing down from stress. You'll learn to work more effectively with your time and with the anxiety that’s kept you on the run. Read - and become, as one reader discovered, “MORE PRODUCTIVE!”

Author slide

“ I can’t slow down — I have too much to do.”

As a psychotherapist, I heard words to this effect frequently. Yet, near-constant hurry only creates more stress because our human design, from our cells on up, thrives on balance. So, I set out to write this book, conducting numerous interviews and a pace-of-life survey. My greatest wish is that you’ll find Slowing Down in a Speedstressed World as helpful as others have.


% of adults suffer stress-related symptoms*


% of people who lack spare time frequently feel stressed*


much to do in 2 little time: the dilemma addressed in this book


people were interviewed or surveyed by author

What My Book (Winner of an eLit Award) Offers You

The key to slowing down

The most obvious reason for your daily rush may be a desire to excel at work, to cross off your to-do list, or to feel worthwhile in retirement. Underneath, however, anxiety is often haste’s true “fuel.” The key to slowing down lies in relating differently to anxious feelings and thoughts. My book’s strategies for working with anxiety will benefit both your pace and your life.

Slowlutions® for a hasty pace

You can slow down. In our “hurry up” culture, however, an ally can make all the difference. I designed this book to act as your ally, coaching you to put brief “slowlutions®” into practice. You’ll find slowlutions® tailored to your lifestyle, whether you’re parenting, working, retired, or unemployed. “What’s my slowlution®?” is guaranteed to become your go-to mantra as you slowly free yourself from your hasty pace.

Reasons to revalue slowness

We can’t slow down all the time, of course, but we do need balance. Here, we discuss slowing down as a valuable tool for rebalancing haste’s over-activation of body and mind. You’ll explore how slowing down even briefly can contribute to closer, kinder relationships and to higher quality work. Read, and appreciate anew the wise saying “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Kindness, kindness, kindness

In modern times, new tasks keep arriving. After a while, no matter how fast you try to keep up, it’s easy to start believing that you’re not trying hard enough or, even, that you’re failing. I promote kindness throughout the book because you may have forgotten to offer it to yourself. Kindness is invaluable to slowing down: it eases stress and anxiety - and it’s guaranteed to help you remember that you are just as important as the items on your to-do list.

Samples from the Book

Chapter 1

All Roads Lead to One:
Speedstress’ Three Dilemmas

San Francisco’s dawn fog often makes a cocoon around Dave Banner’s condo building. Given a few hours, the sun burns the thick mist away to reveal the charm of pastel homes and green succulents set along winding streets. On most weekday mornings, Dave outpaces the sun in achieving a slow burn. With words that are tense and hurried, the purchasing executive tells the story of his speedstressed life, one in which he is geared up from the moment he rises:

“The alarm goes off in the morning and so you get up to start your day and you make breakfast, you make coffee, you get your clothes ready, you make your lunch, you get dressed, and head off to work. From the minute that you get up you’re receiving data, you’re thinking about your emails, you’re thinking about your projects, you’re thinking about is the bus going to be late, so you’re already stressed before you even leave the house.

Then you get to work and then you deal with all the ins and outs of whatever job you’re in. You do that all day, then you stop work, you deal with the commute home, then you eat dinner, take some time for yourself, hopefully. You go to bed, and you do this five days a week, six days a week. When is there time for friends? When is there time for yourself? When do you relax? When are you allowed to slow down and not check email?”

Dave is anxious, rushed, and focused on the tasks ahead. In short, he is speedstressed. Based on his comments, I’d guess that Dave would describe himself as extremely stressed. If so, he’s not alone. A 2012 American Psychological Association (APA) survey on stress reports that nearly a quarter of adults put themselves in that category, while 44 percent report that their stress has increased over the past five years. Dave – and, perhaps, you – might agree with another finding from that survey: lack of time is viewed as a major barrier to making changes that would lessen one’s stress.

Is this the story of your life?

If you, like Dave, move anxiously through more days than you like at a pace faster than you feel comfortable with, you are speedstressed. (Please take care not to belittle or deny your speedstress by comparing it to others’. If you feel hurried and stressed, you are, even if the person next to you isn’t.) You may walk, drive, eat, talk, or, as one person told me, “sleep,” faster than feels right for you. Often, your pace and focus on task-completion result in a lack of clear awareness of your bodily and emotional experiences, as well as of the activity around you. When fatigue or hunger, or any manner of human need or desire, does make itself known, speedstressed thinking may cause you to ignore it in favor of pushing through your list. …

Dave falls into the speedstress-inducing dilemma, “too much to do in too little time.” This dilemma represents the primary mindset and circumstances that most commonly underlie living in a tense rush. However, we’ll also explore two additional dilemmas that act much like a starter’s gun at a race, causing people to accelerate into the first, or primary, dilemma. The three are:

Too Much-Too Little Dilemmas

Demand Resource People most affected
#1 Too much to do in too little time Employed/Parents
#2 Too much time with too little to do Retirees/Job-seekers
#3 Too much expense for too little income Job-seekers/Retirees/In-debt

Which too much-too little dilemma is driving your tension and fast pace? If you don’t see one here that applies to you, ask yourself what demand is causing you to live too fast because you perceive it’s related resources to be inadequate?

However you answer that question, any speedstress-inducing dilemma is usually comprised of two elements: A perceived mismatch of demands and resources and the perception that the mismatch is too much to handle with calm and balanced pacing …

Copyright © 2014 Marian Read Place. All rights reserved.
Not for reproduction of any kind.

Chapter 4

Dug In: Speedstress as Habit

“I have been able to break some other bad habits in the past, and so I think if someone would have said [a rushed pace] was a habit, maybe that would have helped.” – Shelley Beason

Feeling too tense and over-activated to head home after a day at work with top executives, Stelle Shumann would unwind at the mall. “I found I couldn’t just come off from rushing around into calming down. I didn’t have the tools for it,” she recalls. Soon, no part of Stelle’s week afforded respite. “On your weekends you’re running around and everything’s rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush. You’re so hooked into it,” she says.

Stelle’s use of the word “hooked” is telling: Speedstress can become habitual; it certainly had for Stelle. You’ll recall that her original trigger for rushing was her anxiety about being fired if she was viewed as not busy enough. Yet, here she describes hurrying through her weekends, when her boss wasn’t present and work wasn’t expected of her. Stelle rushed because it had become her default behavior, or habit. If you’ve tried to slow down and experienced anxiety that prevented change, or if you’ve suddenly found yourself right back in your tasks again, speedstress may well have become a habit for you.

Once a habit is established, its automatic nature often shuts down our awareness of it. We don’t think about our behavior, or the beliefs driving it, we simply do it. Like dry, hard-packed soil that resists a shovel’s attempt to turn it, habits require the “rain” of our attention on them before change can occur. Often, the costs that result from turning to one-note behavioral responses in a dynamic world (including our own biopsychological universe) are what first prompt us to offer such awareness.

In this chapter, we’ll explore five elements as lenses through which you can explore speedstress’ habitual nature: triggers, the recurring behavior, reward(s), craving, and belief(s).

Of course, no one likes to think of her- or himself as having unhelpful behaviors, much less habitual ones; yet, we all succumb at one point or another. So, treat yourself with kindness as you read on. You might also want to foster change by considering how each element might serve as a doorway into reshaping your pace.


What stimulates us to develop and practice a habitual behavior? In the case of speedstress, there are three universal triggers.

1. The dilemma. As we’ve discussed, a too much-too little dilemma, with its perceived or actual mismatch between demands and resources, is the precipitating trigger. Haste seems the obvious solution.

2. Anxiety

Copyright © 2014 Marian Read Place. All rights reserved. Not for reproduction of any kind.

Chapter 6

The Necessity of Slowness

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid

The breeze causes orange-gold leaves to rise and fall like small sighs that drift downward toward the pond behind my house. Ducks glide across the water, quacking as others appear, making a dark wedge in the blue sky. Enticed by the shining circle below, the birds begin gliding downwards. Yet, in their final moments of descent, they tilt slightly away from their watery haven, as if they are fighting their own decision to come to rest. I realize they are braking so as to glide safely onto the water, rather than suffer a hard landing.

Slowing down is a necessity, a fact as true for us as for those ducks. A man we’ll call Evan will help to highlight this important reality.

Evan owned and managed a business, so he found it very difficult to take vacations, says his leadership and career coach, Joan Roberts Eastman. In this, Evan was much like those ducks tilting away from that glistening pond; unlike them, however, he didn’t intend to ease into rest. Over decades, Evan worked doggedly and with all good intention until, in middle age, he had a nervous breakdown so severe that he had to be hospitalized.

Evan had what, in vehicular terms, we would call an accident. Like many of us, he had a harder time accepting his own need to “brake” than he did that of the 3,000-pound mass of metal he called his car! Yet, the reality is this: If we are to rebalance away from tense and tired over-activation, we often have no choice but to, quite literally, slow our pace.

Why do I say this?

While speed tends to shift us toward tense activation, slowing down moves us toward calm. Any readers who are parents know this, for few children downshift from raucous play into sleep without an intervening period of calm – be it a warm bath or a softly-spoken story. Moreover, slow’s soothing powers don’t fade in adulthood; rather, they provide researched benefits. …

What’s my slowlution? (Exercises to ponder or practice)

WMS? Enlist a friend: For one minute, walk together very quickly while one of you talks and the other listens. Switch roles and repeat. Slow down and talk about your hurried experiences as listener and talker. What’s different at your slower pace?

WMS? Think back to times when slowing down has proven powerful. Keep your eyes open for its benefit in the present.

Copyright © 2014 Marian Read Place. All rights reserved. Not for reproduction of any kind.

Chapter 18

This, Too, Shall Pass: Relating Anew to Anxiety

“It is awfully hard work doing nothing.”
– Oscar Wilde

Anxiety will prove the truth of Mr. Wilde’s words.

Because the brain equates unfamiliarity with lack of safety, slowing your habitual hasty pace will spark anxiety in you. Sharon Dornberg-Lee discovered just that as she intentionally began to take walks and reserve time for lunch. “[The fact] I have even less time to focus on work in some ways creates more anxiety, but I find it’s more than worth it,” she says.

Sharon has learned to co-exist with her anxiety, rather than resisting it or letting it block her from moving toward calmer energy. As a means to the same end, we’ll explore anxiety as your ally, and your relationship to it through the lenses of resistance, acceptance, and what I call “conscious co-existence.” Relating in new ways to your in-the-body experience of the feeling will complement your efforts to decelerate your thinking.

Anxiety as ally

As a start, let me introduce what may seem a counter-intuitive idea: Anxiety, though it can be misguided at times, is on your side. I say this because the emotion’s sole purpose is to keep you safe. Its unsettling, uncomfortable nature exists for a reason, prodding our minds to alertly scan the environment for threat and priming our bodies to spring into “fight or flight.”

Because our felt experience of the emotion is, at best, unsettling and, often, distressing, we usually don’t respond to its protective intent with anything close to gratitude. As a result, rather than assessing whether anxiety’s “Danger!” signal is accurate, we sometimes perceive our less-than-comfortable experience of the feeling as the threat itself. We may try to escape or resist anxiety, whether by eating, drinking or, as we’ve seen, by staying overly busy. Thus, the anxiety that will arise as you slow down may prove an especially strong potential trigger for the hasty behaviors you are trying to change.

Resistance, however, is futile. …

Copyright © 2014 Marian Read Place. All rights reserved. Not for reproduction of any kind.

Choose a chapter

  • Chapter 1

    - All Roads Lead to One: […]
  • Chapter 4

    - Dug In: Speedstress as Habit […]
  • Chapter 6

    - The Necessity of Slowness “Take […]
  • Chapter 18

    - This, Too, Shall Pass: Relating […]

Buy Slowing Down in a Speedstressed World!  
It’s both a kind and a wise investment.

Kind, because slowing down will benefit not only you, but those you love.
Wise, because slowing down successfully in today’s hurry-up world requires an ally.

Buy now

Content Overview

Linking Haste & Stress

Changing your pace of life requires understanding why you’re rushing. Drawing from real-life stories, we explore haste as a well-intended but ineffective solution to three modern dilemmas that provoke anxiety. Whether you are working, retired, or seeking employment, living on the run increases stress – and often becomes habitual. Understanding this opens the door to successful change.

Revaluing Slowness

Pacing plays a potent, but often unnoticed, role in our lives. While our culture looks down on slowness, I invite you to revalue it as a necessary balance to the over-activation that stress and haste cause in mind and body. You’ll rediscover how slowing down into calm (or fun!) can help offset the tiredness and tension that result from living at speed.

Making the Decision

Journeying from Nelson Mandela’s prison garden to a southern house under renovation, you’ll cross the distance between thinking about slowing down and actually doing so. The reality that each of us has only one chance at this life prompts important questions: How do you want to live? What are your reasons for easing your pace and your stress? You’ll bring your motivations into focus as a means to deciding – with a “capital D” – to slow down.

Practicing a New Pace

In the midst of our speedstressed world, the five-steps of “i slow” serve as your reliable core practice for changing your pace. When you forget to slow down, you’re encouraged to practice great kindness — and begin again. This imperfect process is one in which brief “slowlutions®” can have significant effects. The w-step, in which you actively watch for rewards, will make clear how slow’s gifts can ripple through your life in unexpected ways.

Managing Anxiety

Anxiety fuels haste and haste fuels anxiety. As with any change in habit, when you begin slowing your hasty pace, your anxiety will climb. Relating differently to this uncomfortable emotion will prove vital to your success at slowing down. Here, you’ll learn new strategies for managing anxious feeling and thoughts – rather than letting them set you on the run again. These new skills will adapt to many areas of your life, freeing up your energy.

Slowlutions® for You

Whether you’re a young parent or a retiree, employed or seeking work, there’s a chapter here tailored to you. Your chapter’s wisdom will draw from the experiences of many: From the new retiree who vowed not to make firm time commitments for six months to the employee who slows down to better prioritize her tasks. You’ll discover many new ways to free yourself from hurry and stress, vastly improving your experience of life.

Additional Themes

♦ Accepting what’s real: your human need for balance.

♦ Empowering your thinking in order to slow your pace and ease your anxiety.

♦ Persistence and progress, rather than perfection.

The Book’s Design

♦ Short chapters; self-pacing encouraged.

♦ Exercises to ponder or practice.

♦ A wealth of slowlutions® that cost nothing and can be done almost anywhere.

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Advance Praise for the Book

Marc Gunther, Writer, <em>Fortune Magazine</em>

Marc Gunther, Writer, Fortune Magazine

"Marian Read Place’s book reminds us that we cannot sustain our relationships, communities, or environments unless we also sustain ourselves. Offering short chapters and accessible exercises, Ms. Place, a psychotherapist, encourages her “speedstressed” readers to take small steps toward a kinder, more balanced pace of life. If you’ve largely checked out from life in order to check off your to-do list, read this book."

Pamela George, PhD, Retired Professor of Educational Psychology

Pamela George, PhD, Retired Professor of Educational Psychology

"Marian Place’s book was written for women like me. … My life seemed “an unending plot line of tasks, tension and lack of control,” as this book describes so well. The tales of those Ms. Place profiles are used well as illustrations, warnings, and lessons-learned. She shows us, quietly yet powerfully, how we can take ordinary activity more slowly, with intention and focus, to achieve a calmer energy and a happier self."

Jane G. Calthrop, M.Ed.

Jane G. Calthrop, M.Ed.

"Bravo! Finally, a book on slowing down that also addresses the anxiety that inevitably pops up during change. In a new and hectic job, I’ve used its tips and wisdom to help me stay calm and centered. As a training professional, I highly recommend this book to anyone who believes they can’t slow down. You can!"

Peggy Payne, Co-Author, <em>The Healing Power of Doing Good</em>

Peggy Payne, Co-Author, The Healing Power of Doing Good

"This book shows how slowing down is not only pleasurable and healthy but MORE PRODUCTIVE! Extremely valuable information for anyone who feels a bit stressed or pushed to the wall."


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About the Author

Author Marian Read Place

Marian Read Place, LCSW

Marian Read Place, LCSW has been a psychotherapist since 1992 – and a writer since 3rd grade, when she authored and illustrated her first book. She has lived in locales with diverse tempos – from the rush and bustle of New York City to the easier rhythms of a small desert city and her current hometown of Durham, N.C. – all the while taking note of pacing’s powerful effects. Early on, while working in television, Marian was struck by the fact that news anchors could slow down and compose themselves in a mere ten seconds before going on the air. As technology accelerated life, she began noticing speed’s effect on awareness, relationships, and mental health. Marian’s observations, as well as the wisdom of more than 45 interviewees and nearly 100 survey respondents, are woven throughout Slowing Down in a Speedstressed World: Practical Skills & Kindly Advice. She welcomes your feedback.