The Art Of Slow Living

What is slow living? The lifestyle concept has gained significant popularity in recent years and this is most lightly due to the hectic nature of the world we live in today. Most define it as a way of life, cultivating a more meaningful and conscious existence that aligns with your values. Others feel it’s more about basic habits and the small things that can bring you joy in the everyday. Either way, this article will give you insight on how you can incorporate a slower pace of living.

There is no universal definition of slow living, but everyone intuitively understands what it means. It is living intentionally and being mindful of what you are doing and why you are doing it. As a result, words like simple, cosy, calm, warm, slow, natural, connection, harmony, joy, and seasonal are frequently used to describe it.

Living through a pandemic has been a whirlwind of emotions. It’s been difficult, heartbreaking, and stressful however, it’s also been eye-opening. For some of us, it’s an experience we’d never want to repeat – but for others, it’s been a welcome respite from the rigours of a hectic schedule. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to stay connected to the things that are most important to us. Slow living is a relaxed and leisurely approach to this and encourages gentle approaches in order to reduce stressful or chaotic habits in favour of calm and balance.

Female gardeners

Slow living is all about making more conscious decisions and consuming less in our everyday lives. It can include anything from mindful eating to less time online, learning new hobbies like growing veg or even the simplest of things like spending more time reading. This set of values asserts the idea that faster is not always better. Slow living, despite its growing popularity, is frequently misunderstood. There are many themes and concepts that people associate slow living with: A slower approach to everyday life, slow living at work, hobbies and travel, mindfulness, connection to your community and conscious consumption.

According to Google Trends, “The “slow living” trend has been growing exponentially on YouTube, and is closely associated with popular themes of simple living and minimalism. When researching habits, we found a stunning 4X increase in views of videos with “slow living” in the title in 2020 compared to 2019. This data indicates that many of us have been inspired to take up hobbies and explore interests that we may have previously considered too time consuming.

Google Trends

The slow way of life isn’t about figuring out how little we can live with; it’s about figuring out what we simply can’t live without, discovering your life’s fundamentals and incorporating them into your daily routine..

So, why are we seeing more people gravitate towards a ‘slow living’ approach? It seems to be increasingly popular – on Instagram, there are over 3.5 million posts with the hashtag #theartofslowliving, and there are even entire magazines devoted to all things slow (Kinfolk and Breathe, for example).

Instagram tag

The last two years have been pretty hectic, it’s no wonder people are taking up an interest in a slower pace of life and savouring the smaller things.

The notion has been bubbling away for some time now and in Carl Honore’s Ted Talk (‘In Praise of Slowness’) we see him break down the many positives of living in the moment. So, what can we do to incorporate slow living into our daily lives?

1) Savouring hours and minutes instead of counting them:

You’ll notice a shift in your mood as you begin to slow down and disconnect from external pressures competing for your attention. Slow living allows you to make better use of your time.

Instead of allowing your mind to race ahead to the next thing, begin to notice the small things around you and how lovely they are when you focus on them. Shift your priorities from achieving for the sake of crossing something off your to-do list to being mindful and appreciating the present moment. Living slowly buys you more time in this way.

2) Reducing stress:

Stress management and learning to cope with it are not only important for your overall health and well-being, but also can lead toward a better relationship with time.

One way to relieve stress and clear your mind is to slow down and focus on your breathing. Here are some tips…

Diaphragmatic breathing:

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep breathing or abdominal breathing, is one of the most basic relaxation techniques.

– To begin, find a quiet, comfortable location and become aware of your breathing without attempting to change the rate. You can sit or lie down, keep your eyes open or closed – whatever works best for you. As a beginner, keep one hand on your belly while practising diaphragmatic breathing.

– Inhale deeply through your nose. You can feel your chest rising and your belly expanding as you inhale fresh air.

– Hold your breath for three counts, then slowly exhale. As you exhale, you will notice your abdomen ‘deflating.’ Make your breath slow and deliberate.

DIAPHRAGM BREATHING

S.T.O.P:

S.T.O.P. is an abbreviation for the four steps of this breathing exercise: Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed.

– Simply stop what you’re doing for a minute to practise this.

– Take a deep breath and concentrate on your breathing without attempting to change it.

– Next, pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and sensations, noting what’s on your mind, how you’re sitting/standing, and any areas of tension in your body.

– Continue your work with this awareness.

S.T.O.P.

You can begin by practising these stress-relieving techniques for 5 minutes each day. Once you feel comfortable with it you can try to do this at least 2-3 times per day for at least 5-10 minutes at a time. This can be combined with a variety of mindfulness and visualisation exercises.

3) Practising mindfulness:

Living slowly encourages mindfulness, which means you are more present to breathe in your surroundings rather than moving through life on autopilot. Taking the time to notice what is going on around you is a great way to centre yourself and feel at peace. Some recommendations to implement mindfulness are practising yoga and disassociating from social media for a few hours a day.

We have a great article on positive wellness intentions you can consider here.

4) Being intentional with your time:

It’s so easy to just go with the flow, but in some cases, it’s detrimental to our health. Setting healthy boundaries is one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to our overall wellness. Being intentional with your time entails identifying what is important to you and aligning how you spend your time with the things that make you happy.

What is the most effective way to accomplish this? Developing the ability to say no!  Reducing activities that feel like a chore in your schedule can be liberating, and it makes room for more of the things that bring you joy. This could be spending more time with your family, organising trips with your friends, finally signing up to that painting class or even meal prepping to help you throughout the week.

5) Prioritising and uncovering your passions:

Take up a creative and productive hobby if you want to start living. Anything could happen. Give your hobby more time and attention, and make sure you enjoy it while you’re working on it. It will not only be rewarding and fulfilling, but it will also consume time that could be spent elsewhere.

Cultivate a miniature garden. Even if you only grow one basil plant, the process of planting, nurturing and ultimately harvesting your own plant is a wonderful reminder of the slow processes that occur all around us. Another hobby you could take up is open water swimming. An exhilarating swim in the outdoors where you’re able to make new friends but also have a huge impact on your health.. Sign us up!

Not everything needs to be outdoorsy, if you happen to enjoy the peace and quiet, reading books or learning an instrument may be the hobby for you. There are so many options to choose from.

Planting a tomato

6) Discovering slow travel:

Slow travel can be defined as exploring at a leisurely pace and savouring the things in the immediate vicinity rather than rushing around to see every far-flung corner of a city or country. Opting for walking or cycling instead of taking public transportation or driving, and simply taking in the scenery are examples of slow travel.

Taking a slower approach to travel is another area worth considering. In a world where people are desperate to get the perfect instagram pic of their holiday it is important to step back and consider the real reason we are going to these holiday destinations. Slow travel prioritises taking trips that can help you grow and develop as a person, taking the time to invest in your destination’s history, culture, food, community and music. Opting for a slower way of travelling can also include getting in with the locals, this may be in terms of where you stay, what you eat, the activities you do and can often be the more sustainable option.

7) Conscious Consumption:

The concept behind conscious consumerism is purchasing ethical products and trying to avoid unethical businesses and their practices. A socially or environmentally conscious consumer will consider whether consumption is necessary, and then, if they do decide to purchase, they will consider who is providing the product and how the product impacts each environment touched in its making and delivery.

A large majority of shoppers can be persuaded by flash sales, trends and even social media when purchasing things we may not even need (or use once or twice) Attempt to slow your approach down and ask yourself, do you really need this product? Could you find a similar product which is handmade or uses ethically sourced materials. If you are thinking about purchasing something, is it an investment piece, can it be a ‘forever’ item in your home? Another thing you may want to look into are refill shops, these are popping up a lot around the UK, this zero-waste alternative is great for planet-friendly purchases.

Guaranteed next day delivery or same day click and collect are all things we can’t help but think about when placing an order. If you have an Amazon Prime account you’ve probably found that most items you want can be delivered the next day and that’s all great for emergencies, however, the environmental impact can be a lot. To really embrace slow living, aim to shift away from things being so instant in our lives.

Refill store in London

If you’re looking for more info on incorporating slow living into your life then check out our ‘Green Traveller Guide‘ and our ‘Open Water Swimming’ guide for more insight.