The slow living lifestyle; an intro & the benefits
In today’s fast-paced world it is so easy to lose track of time. We wish there were more hours in a day. Not only is it a familiar feeling when we don’t get to do everything off our to-do lists, it’s also common that often we don’t get to the things we actually want to do.
Just ticking off to-do’s, stressing and rushing is not my ideal way to live. And it probably isn’t yours either. For me, getting into the slow living lifestyle has been a major change. I feel like I am on the control board of my life again.
You’re probably here because you either like to know more about the slow living movement, or you’re completely new and wondering what it is at all. I believe slow living can be the change for you too. That’s why I have written this all-inclusive guide to slow living- so you can get back at the control board too.
What is the slow living lifestyle?
What better way to introduce a new topic than with a quote? My personal favourite is one by Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness:
There are several reasons why I think this description is spot on.
- Let’s start with the end of that description (since for me that’s the most important part). To ‘enjoy more’. That’s such a crucial part of the movement. The goal is not slowness in itself. It’s not doing less. It’s not being more mindful. That’s also (probably) going to happen but as a side effect. The number one reason to start living slower is to find more enjoyment in everything that’s already there. No fancy extra routines or rituals. Instead to focus more on what you’re already doing every day.
- That also links with the words ‘doing things properly’. Not rushing all those tasks just because. You’re not a robot. You’re a human being. You’re not here to get tasks off your to-do lists. You’re here to be. To live. So instead of cleaning your dishes so the dishes are clean, how beautiful would it be to clean dishes in order to clean the dishes.
- And then, of course, you have the ‘taking time’ part. Which doesn’t mean everything has to be as slow as possible (more on that later on). It means we should give the tasks, and our self, the time it deserves.
There you have it, an easy and clear statement. But of course, as with anything that has become a ‘movement’, there is so much more to it besides a simple description (although it’s a great way not to overcomplicate things).
Let me tell you a little bit more about what it means:
Living slow means honoring the balance in your life. It means taking life at your pace instead of society’s one.
Finding meaning is every action; no matter how small, and as such living a more meaningful life.
Enjoying. Big moments and small alike. Acknowledging that life is made mostly from the normal moments between the outstanding ones, and finding joy in those, too.
Searching for fulfillment; instead of just ticking off to-do’s from your never-ending list.
It’s about treating every day like the miracle as it is. As Einstein already said:
‘There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’
- Choosing connection over-consuming.
- Choosing purpose over power.
- Choosing ritual over routine.
It means putting your wellbeing as a priority. Your happiness as a priority. Your energy as a priority. YOU as a priority.
Important to know; slow living will look different for everyone. As it aims to focus on what is most important to you, it can by definition not be a ‘one size fits all’ lifestyle. Take inspiration from others, but never simply copy & forget what it is about in the end. And that is a lifestyle perfectly fit for YOU.
Slow living vs simple living
So, before we dive deeper into the benefits of slow living, where you get the time from to start, how to start, and more, let’s take a small side-path to a very related phrase. Simple living. Is it the same?
Short answer: no. But it’s also not too different.
The easiest way to keep them apart is this: slow living is mostly about how you spend and treat your time, while simple living is more about how you choose and use your things.
So simple living might include having a minimalistic wardrobe, while slow living would focus more on how to enjoy choosing your outfit. Simple living would be about what products to use for spa-night, slow living is more about how to make time for spa-night and what to do to relax.
Cool, now we got a broad definition let’s dive more into the benefits of slow living!
Benefits of the slow living movement
Of course, this just might be the most important part of the whole post! The benefits. Why would you even get into a new way of living if there are no benefits, right?! Don’t worry- I got you. Read along for all the reasons of why you should consider slow living.
❊ DEEPER MEANING IN LIFE
Also mentioned before- and by far the most important reason (to me) is; a deeper meaning in life. I see happiness, not as the end goal of where we need to go, but as the base, we need to lay. And from once we laid that base of being happy, being grateful, and being content we can search and grow to more things in life. Slow living can help with both. It will definitely help you lay that base of happiness, or to deepen it. It will make you feel more relaxed, and calm. To make sure life isn’t just passing you by.
And it will help you find more in life. Because by cutting out unnecessary shit, you are left with more time for what matters. You will notice more and more what means something for you on a deep level, and what is just easy entertainment but doesn’t touch your soul.
So, in the end- slow living will give you both a way to deepen your base of happiness ánd it’ll give you direction on where to grow to next.
❊ SLOW LIVING FOR YOUR HEALTH
Let’s also talk about health a bit. Because slow living will take away a lot of rushing, a lot of bothering about things that don’t really matter to you and a lot of drama, it will significantly reduce the stress levels in your life. And stress is one of the biggest killers in our society.
Stress is related to illnesses like heart failure, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and many more. Sometimes it looks as though we have decided as a community that stress is just a part of our life. That’s it’s inevitable. But it’s not. You can choose how you build your life. And by choosing ways like slow living, you can take control over your stress levels and your health.
❊ EMOTIONAL HEALTH
But it’s not just your body that notices negative effects of stress. Your mind does too. We are just not made for this hectic and overstimulating environment. Our brains haven’t changed that much since the time we were still hunters & gatherers. But the time we live in now asks way more from our brains when it comes to impulses, senses, and stress. You could say there is a miss-match between environment and function.
So, we get burn-outs, depression, and sadness. But we can do two main things about this; train the mind and alter the surroundings. Slow living is a major change in the surroundings. It makes you only receive senses you are willing to receive. It is much more sustainable for your mind to keep operating.
❊ MOTHER EARTH
And lastly, it’s also better for our earth. When we only focus on what’s important to us, we automatically consume less (and grow towards simpler living, what I mentioned above). By consuming less, you also burden the earth less.
But it’s not just consuming. It’s also traveling. Slow travel is way gentler on the earth than the fast-paced travel we see so much nowadays. Slow entertainment, slow adventures, and slow tourism all lift a bit of the burden we lay on our precious earth while deepening our connection with life.
Doesn’t slow living take up too much time?
Okay so let’s be honest. By now you’re probably thinking ‘slow, slow, slow.. But WHEN?’. So, here’s the deal. Slow living can mean you do things slower than you’re used to now. That you take your time doing the dishes, working out, and commuting. But it doesn’t (always) have to be that way. The name is confusing in that way, but slow living doesn’t have to be slow. At least, certainly not all the time and with everything.
❊ SKIP UNNECESEARY THINGS & FREE TIME UP
First and foremost, slow living is about choosing what to do, and what to skip. So, with just that in mind, it should actually free time up. Because you’re only spending time on the things you love, (or actually have to do but will learn to love), all the time you used to spend doing shit you actually don’t care about frees up. So far, you’ve only got more time on your hands now!
❊ WATCH THE TIME/VALUE RATIO
Then, of course, there are also things you are going to do more slowly. For me, it shows in handwashing my delicate, enjoying doing the dishes when I take more time for it, folding my clothes with care, having a more elaborate skin care routine, and more. As you might notice, for me it’s mostly daily tasks I enjoy doing more slowly. For you, it might be in a very different area.
As I said, it’s highly personal how you’re slow living lifestyle ends up being. But yes, some tasks will probably end up taking more time. But you’ll also enjoy them more. They will add more value to your life that they did when you rushed them. So, the value/time ratio will either stay the same or improve.
And then there’s always the myth of multitasking which desperately needs to die. We are so keen to believe multitasking will help us achieve more in less time. If you can do two things at once, you’ll be twice as fast, right? Wrong! Sorry to burst your bubble, but multitasking simply doesn’t exist.
We have the illusion of doing two things at a time, but in reality, your brain just keeps on switching from one to the other. Which takes energy. And yes, time. So, doing one thing at a time will actually shorten the total amount of time! And since slow living is all about paying attention to what you do, focus on the one thing at hand, you automatically cut most of your multitasking away. And hence, win time!
Disclaimer about multitasking: you cán do two things at a time as long as one of those is ‘automatic’, which doesn’t need your conscious brain. Like walking, brushing your teeth, and for some people talking (just kidding). But even though you can doesn’t mean you (always) should. Give it a try sometime to walk with full attention or really notice how you actually brush your teeth.
Tips to make a start with slow living
By now you hopefully have an idea of what the slow living movement looks like, or at least can look like, and you know whether it is for you or not. But how to start? I’d suggest starting in small steps. Get a taste of it. Get to know it and find what does and what doesn’t work for you.
These are my two main tips I want to give you for a good start:
- Prioritize. See what makes your life better/ happier/ more fulfilling and what doesn’t. Focus on the good things. Make more time for the good things. Cut the bad things out.
- Do one thing at a time. It doesn’t have to be super slow, just put your attention one task and don’t move your attention from it until you’re done.
I’m confident that your journey to a slower lifestyle will give you so much joy, peace, and love! I can’t wait to hear your results. Let’s start, and don’t forget to tell me how it went on my Instagram!