Guide To Slow Living: How To Slow Down and Enjoy Life
We live in a constantly connected and ever increasingly fast-paced world, which is starting to have it’s affect on the way people are experiencing life. Statistically speaking, people are sleeping less, are experiencing chronically high levels of stress, and even though connected electronically are feeling more isolated and lonelier than ever. This is in large part because our in-person relationships have a direct impact on our overall health and mental well-being, and online relationships are not capable of replicating this same impact.
So what do we do? More and more people are beginning to be drawn to a slower, simpler life, which we can see by the popularity of things like the Marie Kondo method of tidying up, tiny-house living, capsule wardrobes, and our interest in the Danish word Hygge to describe a feeling of cozy wellness.
We are starting to seek out training in mindfulness and meditation, and farmers markets have become a trendy place to “connect with our food”. What all of this says is that we are craving connection and slow living — but is it possible for all of these practices to really get us there if we don’t address the giant elephant in the room, which is how we are choosing to approach and enjoy every single day.
Guide To Slow Living: How To Slow Down and Enjoy Life
The following steps will take you through how you can start to look at your current lifestyle and identify what areas you may be able to make changes in immediately, and what areas you may have to work towards in the future.
Step One: Mind
The first step to embracing a slower, more enjoyable way of living is to begin with your mindset. Take time this week to write down the recurring words that repeat in your head. Are you constantly telling stories that make you feel as though there is never enough time in the day (I understand that you may very well also be overbooked but we are going to handle that in future steps).
What is the overall tone of your inner dialogue?
Regardless of what your work/family/lifestyle may look like, we get to choose what we say to ourselves on a daily basis.
Begin to tell yourself each morning that there is enough time in the day. When that voice tells you that you don’t have time for lunch, remind yourself that in fact you do. At the end of the day take the time to write down one good thing that happened that day or that you are grateful for.
These simple practices are so important when it comes to bringing more enjoyment and less stress into each day. With time your mindset can also be the fuel you need to make necessary lifestyle changes that will bring you closer to the kind of slow living lifestyle you wish to have.
Step Two: Body
How are you treating your body — be brutally honest.
Are you taking time to create space around meal time to enjoy, appreciate, and digest your food.
Are your treating your body with the respect it deserves by giving it consistent movement, and self-care?
Where do you feel you could improve and treat your body better?
Rather than approaching it from a place of punishment, choose to view your body as the miracle vessel that it is. Your body is this incredible physical shape that protects your beautiful soul and allows you to do all the wonderful things you were meant to do in this world.
So if you want to incorporate slow living into your life, your body has to be on board. So how can you treat your body better?
Can you say kind words to it each day and night.
Can you take 30 minutes uninterrupted for meals?
How about self-care? When was the last time you pampered your body with a face mask, a bath, or a long-walk tech free by the beach?
These things are not luxurious they are how we as humans enjoy life, and since when did enjoying your life become an indulgence? If you are feeling this way I want you to remind yourself that you deserve to enjoy life and anyone who tells you differently — well they probably need to read this article more than you do so send them my way!
Step Three: Lifestyle
Lifestyle is the hardest part of slow living, because so many peoples lifestyles are quite literally the exact opposite of slow. We are programmed today to add as much as we possibly can to our plates until we eventually drop everything out of pure exhaustion.
Adrenal fatigue is a very real condition that is a direct result of our bodies overworking themselves to the point where our hormones no longer function the way they are meant to and we feel like total and complete crap. Unfortunately (and fortunately), your body is incredibly smart and has been programmed to be able to withstand an excessive amount of stress before it begins to get out of balance — but we shouldn’t let it get this far.
This is why when it comes to supporting your health with slow living you need to take a hard look at your lifestyle.
What do you have control over and what do you not?
Are you going to bed way too late?
Are you saying YES way too often when you should be saying NO?
Are you impulse shopping to mask your feelings?
Are you filling your life with things and people who bring you immense joy or just create clutter? And yes you can experience both mental and physical clutter.
If you want to embrace a slower paced lifestyle then you need to get real with where your lifestyle is at right now, and what changes need to be made to get it to the place you want it to be.
So take some time to write out what your dream week would look like. Notice who you would be spending time with, what you are doing, how are you eating and moving, how much FUN are you having, and how you feel?
Now write down what your lifestyle looks like this week. Notice where there are overlaps between the lifestyle you want and the one you currently have. Appreciate these pieces even if they are small — changing your lifestyle isn’t going to happen overnight and you need to give yourself some grace.
Step Four: Relationships
Often times our relationships can be one of the most difficult aspects of embracing slow living — especially if you are a care giver constantly being pulled in many directions. When it comes to your closest relationships (I’m talking about your immediate family) it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Make sure that your spouse, partner, children, or parents are involved in the conversation about slow living and make sure that everyone has the chance to vocalize their own interests and desires when it comes to slow living. Not everyone may have the same desires as you do and that is 100% okay, everyone is allowed to live the way they want to.
But if you and your spouse are equally on the same page about the lifestyle you want, and especially if you have younger children that still (kind of) do what you tell them to, then I would highly recommend finding ways to engage them with FUN slow living activities.
This could look like:
More time outside, less time with TV
More craft time, less impulse shopping
More time in the garden and kitchen, less time playing video games
Relationships and community have been found to be one of the best indicators of happiness, and since the goal of slow living is to literally enjoy life more, your relationships are a pretty important part to make time for, focus on, and connect with.
Step Five: Career
Having purpose and work does make us humans feel fulfilled, but with the constant and excessive work culture that exists today our work has quickly become in many ways our entire lives, and not a part of our lives.
Your work also may be the most difficult piece of embracing a slower lifestyle since most likely you work for someone else, and are subject to a type of culture that may not align with the lifestyle you want.
But rather than dwelling in how much you hate your job or how trapped you feel, you need to start with addressing your work from a place of appreciation.
What does your work allow you to do?
Does it pay for your mortgage, heat, and food?
Does it give you security?
These are really wonderful things that not everyone has and so you should take the time to reflect on the positive aspects of your work and appreciate them.
Once your mindset has shifted from feeling trapped to at least a little gratitude, it is time to start thinking realistically about whether or not this career is right for you.
If you come to the conclusion that it is not, start to examine what it is about this career or job that just doesn’t fit. Is it the hours? The culture? The pay scale?
Now write down what aspects of this career or job do fit? Do you like working with people? Do you like being remote? What would you take and leave if you could?
Once you have a clear picture of the type of non negotiable's you need in your career it’s time to research how you could make those happen.
Does it mean working for yourself or a progressive forward thinking company?
Are you willing to take a pay cut for much more flexibility?
Once you start asking these questions you will realize that no one is trapping you in a career you hate but you. And while no you may not be able to transition into a better fit overnight, just knowing that you are working your way towards a career that is a better fit will be enough to make you feel so much more free.
And remember — not everyone needs to have their job be their life passion. Your work can be just that — work, and as long as it is allowing you the lifestyle you want there is nothing wrong with it not being anything more than how you spend a proportion of your week and how you afford the lifestyle you want.
Now that you have worked your way through these five steps it is time to take action.
What do you feel you have the most control to begin improving and working on today?
Where can you bring more slowness, intention, and joy into your life TODAY?
While transitioning to the ultimate slow living lifestyle of your dreams may take time, you can start enjoying your life more this very moment. Because guess what, your life isn’t waiting for you — it’s happening right now, and I for one hope you take a moment to take a deep breathe, slow down, and relish in just how wonderful it is to be alive today.