You’ve probably heard of the term ‘Slow Living’, but what is it, and how can you adopt it into your lifestyle? Read on to find out.
I’m not going to advise you do anything I haven’t done myself! I live in a rented house in Greater Manchester with my family: two teenagers and a dog! I run a small business from home; I used to work part-time in a sales job when I first started slow-living.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was prescribed antidepressants and attended weekly therapy and counselling appointments.
However, it wasn’t enough for me! I am a proactive person, which in reality means I’m a little bit of a control freak who likes things done a certain way and I’m very impulsive and eager.
Restless to find a treatment that works for me, I started scrolling through Google and came across the concept of slow living.
I persevered through the Pinterest-perfect images of white linen, cosy blankets, hot drinks in beige expensive mugs, and open books to find the real blueprint of a slow life.
Slow living is a mindset whereby you curate a more meaningful and conscious lifestyle that’s in line with what you value most in life.
It means doing everything at the right speed. Instead of striving to do things faster, the slow movement focuses on doing things better. Often, that means slowing down, doing less, and prioritising spending the right amount of time on the things that matter most to youslowlivingldn.com/
I’m pre-empting the “I haven’t got time to slow down” response. I was exactly the same!
I firmly believe that if I can do this, anyone can – as cliche as it sounds. Let’s swap the word ‘slow’ for ‘simple’, if you’re still feeling a little resistant.
I realised that I was on a treadmill of life, constantly moving, running, never resting, and yet not getting anywhere. I was doing so much, why did I still feel lost?
It was time to get off the treadmill and slow down.
I started spending my days with a slower approach. Sounds dreamy right? But it wasn’t about laying in bed until lunchtime with all the time in the world to drink a latte and make a daisy chain.
This was about consuming less and living more.
Now, I don’t mean consuming food, (although the slow living movement did start with the slow food movement). It’s about the consumption of stuff, information, and influence – areas of our lives that aren’t often simple.
We’ve fallen into a culture where being busy equals success, and you’re reduced to what you can do, rather than who you are – what you produce and what you consume.
Slowing down, simplicity, sustainability and finding meaning has become a privilege, when in actual fact they are the fundamental parts of life and require nothing but self.
When I ask someone about their simple pleasures, it’s never designer handbags, the latest craze in gadgets or being on-the-go all the time.
My simplest pleasure is drinking a coffee in the morning while it’s still hot; I’m giving myself the gift of time. I achieve this very simply, making that my only focus.
We do have time.
We spend hours on social media and binge-watching Netflix series. I’m not suggesting any more than a few minutes each day for something much more beneficial to you than the latest Facebook posts or Instagram stories. It’s a fact, we waste time. It’s so easy to carve five minutes out of the day. Trust me. Now back to my coffee…
I don’t scroll through my phone or watch TV during my coffee time: it’s me and that cup, and maybe a stare out of the window. During normal weekdays, I drink it while I have a conversation with my kids as they get ready for school. It can be done!
We don’t have to be entertained by external media at all times.
We have become creatures of immediate gratification. You can order products online for same or next-day delivery with the magic of technology. But faster isn’t always better.
I am not a technology or smartphone hater. Not at all! I can lose myself in a TikTok scrolling spree as much as the next person.
But… it’s a huge part of our lives that has added to instant gratification, negative influence and mental illness. My social media has been constructed by me, for me. It’s my space, and I’ll share and comment on content that works for me: inspiration, friends, humour, connection, positivity and my small eco-friendly business.
Which then brings me onto over-consumption of stuff.
I was an impulse buyer. That feeling of joy of buying something new felt good for a moment, but it didn’t last long and it wasn’t even real joy – it’s a rush of chemicals in the brain. A more minimal life has been made popular recently by Marie Kondo’s book and Netflix series, where she encourages getting rid of things that don’t bring joy.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”William Morris
I am known in my family for being ruthless when doing a declutter, even before I was committed to sustainability.
Showcasing an array of products and clothes in a ‘haul’ has taken over social media, becoming a trend that encourages more people to buy buy buy, whether that’s cleaning products or cheap clothing (both of which I’m strongly against for a multitude of reasons). These hauls encourage the viewer to go out and buy ‘stuff’ and share it. They wouldn’t even want it if there wasn’t thousands of likes and comments at stake.
In summary, buying stuff has become entertainment.
Now, picture yourself after a long, hard day at work. You’ve not stopped, you’ve been on-the-go without so much as a loo break that didn’t involve going on your phone. How do you feel?
The ‘grind culture’, with its endless overtime, no sleep, full calendars, meetings, buzzing, chatter, rushing; all of this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re creating your best work.
Faster isn’t always better.
A full calendar doesn’t mean a full life.
Protect your free time by saying NO. It may feel difficult at first to decline invitations or resisting the urge to agree to extra work, but this is time that would be better spent doing what makes you happy, what you’re passionate about, and what brings you joy.
I’ve gone through a transformative period of my life in recent years, partly due to me getting older, my kids getting older and my discovery of slow living. I’ve allowed time and space for self-knowledge and realised what actually brings me joy.
One of my colleagues was sadly diagnosed with lung cancer after working for the company for many years. Less than a year later, she sadly passed away. I attended her funeral amongst her friends and family, including her absolutely heartbroken husband, children and grandchildren.
Also at the funeral were some of our managers. At the wake, which was a celebration of life and an hour or two after we’d buried our friend, they found it acceptable to discuss the work hours missed due to attending the funeral, and how we were going to make this time up.
Her job position was advertised not long after this.
I’m not naïve. I know death is a cruel certainty and people sadly pass away everyday. But this opened my eyes more than anything.
We’re reduced to what we can produce and consume, what you can do rather than what you can be.
This is why slow living appeals to me. Being ‘in the moment’ and slowing down means we can get off the hamster wheel of modern life and reject capitalistic expectations of our levels of busyness. We live such a short life, so we simply must take the time we have and use it for ourselves, not for billionaires, bosses and businesses.