We all need to slow down a bit and stop letting hustle culture get the best of us. I know I’m more than likely preaching to the choir, but I am constantly astounded by how much power my to-do list has over me.
Yes, it is amazing how much we can get done in 24 hours, and it’s brilliant that we’ve learned to optimize our time, but is killing ourselves for productivity worth it?
Does anyone actually benefit from waking up at five in the morning or going on a five-mile run before the sun rises? I’d like to propose a new way of living life and tackling the tasks and traps of our everyday to-dos, called slow living.
What is Slow Living?
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Slow living can be as easy or as complicated as you’d like it to be. At its core, it’s simply taking time to live more consciously and intentionally, something I know I often neglect to do.
Slow living doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t do all the tasks that often bombard you throughout the day, but instead, you’re present for each and every moment you’re living. We can sometimes become robots and attempt to get everything done without actually being there in the moment.
Signs of Fast Living
More than likely, you practice some form of slow living every day. I believe that it’s impossible to completely negate slow living and still live a functional life. Whether you journal in the mornings, take time to eat breakfast in silence, or go on mindful walks, you’re more than likely practicing slow living.
And while it’s a good idea, you don’t necessarily have to block time in your schedule to practice slow living every day. You can focus on living slowly during the weekends, Sunday resets, or any night you might be feeling down.
Our society functions on people not practicing slow living. The opposite, which I deem ‘fast living’, could be shown in you Googling your symptoms before you take a step back and really think about your ailments, completing a task or responding to an email the second you get it. Fast living could even be eating in a way that your fork never stops shoveling food from your plate to your mouth. The good news is, for the many ways that you might be experiencing ‘fast living,’ you can experience slow living in those moments as well.
The Benefits of Slow Living
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We all need to slow down and enjoy life more. There are millions of benefits to practicing slow living, but the main result of slow living is living with less stress. While stress can be a motivator for us to get things done, it isn’t conducive to slow or healthy living. Stress is known as a creativity killer, according to multiple psychologists. When your mind is scattered and your body is on alert, your creative juices don’t flow as easily. This is why you see artists promoting slow-living lifestyles.
Another thing that happens when you start practicing slow living is you realize what deserves your attention and what doesn’t. Clutter, hurtful people, and excessive hours at work are no longer things you want to deal with every day. When you’re intentional about where you put your time and energy, the things you invest in become things worth your while.
Ways to Practice Slow Living
As I said before, there are a number of ways to practice slow living. But as I started to work on this article, I realized that it wasn’t a once-a-day thing. Usually, with my Markey Tries It articles, I can do one thing a day and be done with it. But slow living is a lifestyle, not a checklist. In fact, slow living slightly negates checklists.
So, as I went into my week of slow living, I began incorporating elements of slow living into my daily routine.
These elements included:
Turning Electronics off
One way to avoid fast living is to eliminate any multitasking you do. Electronics often cause us to multitask by providing us with multiple screens and outlets at one time. If you’re always plugged into your electronics, you’ll never be plugged into real life.
Signing out of Work at a Certain Time
This one is hard, especially if you love your job and love getting things done like me. The second something pops up at work, I always feel as though I have to run and do it. But living a slow lifestyle allows you to not cross everything off your list at the first chance.
How often do we rush through everything in life? Slow living is absolutely about the journey instead of the destination. Drive slowly, be mindful of the people and places you pass, and know that your journey is just as, if not more important, than your destination.
Slow eating, according to Slow Living London, describes “a type of conscious consumerism that encourages respecting seasonality, reducing the environmental impact within food production and supporting local producers and culinary traditions.”
Being Present with Loved Ones
Your loved ones are the people who ought to bring life, light, and energy into your world. Stay close to the people who fill up your cup and bring you joy every time you see them.
Be in Nature
Immersing yourself in nature is one of the most healing things you can do. Whether you’re making a mindful choice to work outside or simply take daily walks, be in nature at least once a day and note how your mental health improves.
As someone who loves to work out and feels genuinely better the second I sweat, I understand that working out can become a habit and not a mindful activity. Next time you work out, focus on how you feel before, during, and after and if your mood genuinely lifts.
At the heart of slow living is this simple statement: do less. If you can clear your schedule to be with your loved ones, do it. If you can get off work or push when you get on, do it. If you can cut anything out of your daily life that isn’t bringing you joy, do it.
It wasn’t easy, but I found that every day I wanted to do less, live with less, and think less about the stresses that usually bombard me.
I live fast by nature. I measure the success of my days by how much I accomplish. But this week, I measured my days by how much I laughed, how free I felt, and how little I did. There were and will always be days where I wake up and work all day, but by Marie Kondo-ing my life and lifestyle and throwing out anything that didn’t give me joy, I was able to be mindful and respectful to myself and my limits on those days.
When I first began this challenge, I wrote almost every day about how wonderful slow living was, but I hadn’t actually experienced it. I was reviewing the work I’d done and what I had to do next in order for the article to be done, and I realized I hadn’t been living slowly or mindfully at all, but instead, living with a goal in mind and working on my brain.
This challenge was difficult for me in a way I don’t think I fully understood until it came time to write about it. The entire idea of slow living is centered around doing less and being present, and that’s not me right now. I do think I thrive off of stress as a motivator. I love to work and I love to check things off my list.
That being said, I did take a good chunk of time out of every day for the past week to practice some form of slow living. I decluttered some of my spaces, ditched my to-do lists, spent time with my favorite people, and managed to get outside at least once a day.
I don’t think I mastered the art of slow living, because it’s a lifestyle. But I would like to continue to explore the lifestyle and maybe completely adapt it one day.
I think the biggest rub with slow living is that it’s not the standard for life. While we may romanticize the slow life, it’s not truly accessible to everyone. And while there is a market for people wanting to adopt a slow living lifestyle, there’s also an opposite market that is trying just as hard to get everyone to adopt the fast living life.
To completely give in to slow living, I believe one has to neglect a lot of what society has told them to value and strive for.
Have you practiced slow living before? What practice are you most drawn to? Comment below!
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