We’ve had a bit of a minimalist theme on the blog lately- we’ve shared tips for bringing some hygge into your home, ways to reduce your waste, and a look at Marie Kondo’s famous organizing methods. Maybe it’s the start of a new year that’s been inspiring us to look at ways to live more by living with less, but whatever the reason, this softer way of life feels like a much needed balance to the hectic world we live in.
Another area of minimalism that we’ve been particularly drawn to lately is the slow living movement, and in today’s post we want to share some tips for embracing the art of slow living.
Slow living. The term is somewhat self-explanatory, but what does it mean exactly? While interpretations of the lifestyle do vary from person to person, the overall idea is to live a life more intentionally, more mindfully, choosing quality over quantity and taking the time to slow down and soak up the simple pleasures of life.
In a world where it’s becoming rare to be without a device on hand at all times, or even two or more devices (and one else guilty of scrolling through their phone while watching Netflix?), making the conscious decision to slow down can be a radical act and not nearly as easy as we might hope. We are bombarded with distractions, surface entertainment, and a constant resounding message to do more, spend more, and be more. As we wrote here, even things like the wellness industry and self-help world, intended to help us become healthier and happier, can often push the message that we need to do and be more.
In response to this, a community of people have begun embracing the slower side of life. On her blog, A Girl Named Leney, slow living advocate Leney offers her personal definition of the lifestyle:
essentially, it's taking the time to enjoy life's gifts in the various, often over looked, forms they take.
even when they require extra steps.
even when they require more time.
even when there's a to do list hanging over your head.
maybe even especially when.
because it's a healthier way of living.
i’m still learning what living intentionally, sustainably and mindfully means for me.
i hope that in the pursuit of finding those answers for myself i inspire you to seek out what that means for you in your own life.
because i think we could all do with a little bit more slowing down, to take notice of the aspects in our day-to-day that are truly meaningful and add value instead of take it away.
On her blog, Eco Warrior Princess, Jennifer Nini describes slow living as an antidote to her previous habit of constantly chasing: “At some point or another, I have been obsessed with chasing something. Chasing dreams. Chasing metrics. Chasing promotions. Chasing bonuses. Chasing pats on the backs. Chasing compliments. Chasing clients. Chasing ‘likes’. Chasing perfection. Chasing more.”
Because slow living is such a personal journey (only you know what steps will really help you to embrace this slower, gentler way of living), there are a few basics that will generally apply to most people. When you read over them, take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. And remember, these tips are simply here as suggestions- not one more thing to add to your to-do list.
Put your phone away
One of the biggest distractions we have these days is our devices. They can be such powerful tools when used consciously, but they’re also an opportunity to stay busy, numbed out, and disconnected.
Have you ever noticed that your likes, dislikes, preferences, and opinions begin to take on those of the people you’re following on social media? Do you find that you reach for your phone any time you’re bored or anxious as a way to distract yourself?
Slow living doesn’t mean giving up your phone or deleting your social media accounts. There are a lot of amazing benefits to living in a connected world, but you can avoid the downsides by using technology more mindfully. That might mean setting limits to how often you use your phone or during what time of the day. You’ll know when you’ve found the right balance when you feel happy and peaceful about your usage.
Cutting down on your phone use will likely open up a lot of free time for you too. Try this: put your phone away for one whole evening and notice a) how many times you unconsciously reach for it, b) what you can spend doing with your time instead. Going for a walk, reading a book, or trying out a DIY project are just a few fun activities you can swap out your phone time for. You don’t need to rush to fill the space either, just hanging out and taking it slow is great.J
We love multi-tasking, love it! We feel importantly busy and productive, but slow living means giving up the need to feel busy and overscheduled. Rather than giving half your attention to a lot of things at once, play around with giving your full attention to one or two things at a time. Giving your full attention and presence to something can turn even the most mundane of tasks into a rejuvenating experience.
Spend time in nature
Nature epitomizes slow living. Everything moves and grows in its own time, and the peace you can find being out in nature is unparalleled. It reconnects us to the bigger picture and takes us out of our crazy auto-pilot lifestyles.
Being out in nature can definitely mean getting out of the city and going for a hike or even an overnight camping trip, but it doesn’t have to! Enjoy a walk through the park on your lunch break, join a community garden, or simply sit outside and enjoy the sound of birds chirping and feeling of sun on your skin.
Reconnect with what you love
What did you love doing as a child? What lights you up and fills you with joy, even if it seems silly or unimportant? What do you stop yourself from doing because it feels pointless or unproductive, even though deep down just thinking about it is enough to make you smile?
Make space for these things. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, even just a few minutes connecting with what you love can be so powerful. Making space for what you love makes life feel deeper, more genuine, and connects you to yourself. And really, if you’re not taking at least some time to do what you love, what’s the point?
This step definitely isn’t for everyone- some people really don’t connect with the act of journaling, but it is worth at least a try. You may be surprised just how much you love it! Approach your journaling without a need to structure it or be somehow productive with it. You don’t need to sensor yourself, give a detailed account of your day, or even worry about being accurate. Just write! Write your feelings, write your emotions, write whatever comes up and flows out of your pen.
If you’re looking for more slow living inspiration, there are a few amazing books and blogs out there. Probably the most popular is Brook McAlary’s book Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World and accompanying podcast, The Slow Home podcast.
Remember though that slow living is your own design. Simply taking a few minutes to take a some deep breaths and be present in the moment are the perfect place to start.