Living life in the slow lane
For me, September feels like the start of a brand-new year – regardless of the fact that there’s still four months left. Everyone’s back from their Summer holidays, back to school, university, maybe back to work. And this far on in the year I feel like I need a break until January! Daily life seems to be a never-ending to-do list – which never gets completed because there’s always something more important happening. This has got me thinking about how I can live my life at a slower, potentially more enjoyable pace, and be more mindful of what I’m doing, which led me to discover the idea of slow living. But what exactly is slow living, and how can it benefit us? I’m sure you’ve all heard of slow fashion or slow food, but slow living is not quite as popular yet.
What does it actually mean?
Slow living is almost a state of mind, it’s a way of using a reflective approach to life and ensuring that things we do have a purpose and we can recognise their purpose by being conscious and mindful. It means structuring your life around meaning and fulfilment. It is as simple as it sounds. As an example, instead of rushing around in the morning running late for your train, try to wake up a little earlier and do ten minutes of yoga or meditation to calm your mind and give you a chance to enjoy what the day has to offer. It’s amazing what a simple routine can do to relax and calm your mind and allow you to be more mindful. Slow living is all about making slow changes to your routine, rather than becoming a master of zen overnight. It is a step by step process which can take a while to truly settle into.
How to start a slow living lifestyle
- Prioritize sleep
Sleep is so, so vital for our health and many of us know we don’t get enough but still stay up and watch ‘just one more episode’ on Netflix knowing full well it means we will only get four hours of sleep. We need to learn to prioritize our sleep for our wellbeing. There are countless studies on the importance of sleep, and the benefits of getting a full good night’s sleep. As adults we should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a day for us to be fully functional the following day. It enables us to replenish our energy, and repair our bodies following the day’s activities, and even affects our mood the next day.
- Say no
This is an important one, particularly for people who suffer with any mental health problems, or bowel problems. Sometimes we just need to be on our own for a bit, and not have to worry about making conversation with people we hardly know, or pretend that the stabbing pain in our stomach isn’t there. And that’s totally fine. It’s become more acceptable recently to be able to say no to going out when your body is screaming at you to stay in or to go to bed. Because self-care is essential for us to keep our minds and bodies healthy, and saying yes when we want to say no will not do us any favours. Use the power of no to protect your time, wellbeing and happiness.
- Reconnect with nature
Going out for a quick walk on your lunch break or even going for a run around the forest at the weekend are both simple ways to reconnect with nature. It’s essential for our health to be able to get outside, and feel the fresh air on our face and be able to breathe in fresh air, rather than the stuffy air indoors. If you’ve ever been stuck inside for days from injury, illness or an upcoming deadline you’ll understand. Sometimes it’s hard to recognise that leaving the house is the best thing to do, but it feels so amazing when you finally get out! Walking is a form of meditation in a way, it enables you to really look at the space around you and get lost inside your own mind, rather than feeling stuck behind a laptop screen.
- Keep a tidy environment
Tidy space, tidy mind! This is a big one for me, as I struggle to concentrate at all when the space that I’m in is a mess. Before I can sit down and even think about my work, the washing up must be done, kitchen clean, desk clear, the list is endless. I think it’s true that having a clutter-free space is conducive to having a restful mind.
- Be present
Being present could mean something different for everyone but in this instance, I mean limiting screen time. While this may be much harder for some people than others, it’s possible to do in small steps. Start by putting your phone out of reach when you’re having dinner so you can’t endlessly scroll while eating, or turning off the TV while you’re in bed and try talking to your partner or reading a book instead. In this modern world it can be so difficult to switch off and be present in our lives, but it’s one of the things that will make a huge difference, and we will find in time that we enjoy life much more when we are present and not staring at our phones.
These are just a few ways to get started with living slower, the list could be much larger but I don’t want to overwhelm you and make you completely change your lifestyle! These simple steps are just suggestions to get started. Please feel free to share with your friends and message me with any other tips you have which could benefit us and help us to live slower.
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