My quest to live the slower life – a work in progress
Living a slower lifestyle is a choice that requires conscious effort, as it involves trial and error and the willingness to make changes. It can be challenging to maintain a slow lifestyle in a modern world that often promotes busyness and profits off stress, but it can be done. Simple living comes from simple ideas; if only we stop to think and feel before we act or react.
After writing my first post on how my slow lifestyle came to be, I wanted to explain how I maintain (and sometimes don’t) a slow and fulfilling lifestyle. The slow living movement can portray an idealist overview without getting into the nitty gritty of modern life. And I wanted to reaffirm that there’s a lot of thought which goes into intentional living.
It’s important to remember that achieving and maintaining a slower pace isn’t linear and does not always follow a traditional “happily ever after” narrative like in the fairytales. It requires small (sometimes really big) and frequent actions in every part of our daily life, ultimately focusing on simple joys.
My slow living tips summarised for a simpler life
I’ve summarised my slow living points for your convenience, but please read on to discover the stories that led me to these conclusions.
- It may be possible to do everything in your life (do you even want to?) but not simultaneously.
- Living slower is about being willing to make changes – can you and do you want to?
- Asking yourself thought-provoking questions allows you to cultivate fresh perspectives.
- Practising being kind, none judgemental and in the moment are essential skills for enjoying simple pleasures.
- Self-care is more than a hot relaxing bath – it can be frightening and emotionally painful.
- Being in nature is quality time well spent, but it doesn’t have to be traitorous mountain tops or paddling down rapids (if you don’t want it to be)
- Remember, it’s a lifestyle choice that can put personal growth, natural rhythms, and stronger relationships at the centre.
” When we let go of…stress, tension, clutter, excess, expectations, shoulds, obligations, judgements, ego, ownership, trying to please everyone, specific outcomes, total control, perfectionism, impossible standards, being everywhere, being everything to everyone…we gain lightness, clarity, space, time, energy, purpose, compassion, acceptance. We allow ourselves to move forward. And slowly, we discover that contentment and simplicity lie on the other side.”Brooke McAlary
The slower approach to checking back in with slow living
As the festive season arrived, I was blessed with the opportunity to take nearly a month-long break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. While some time was forced upon me due to a bout of tonsillitis, I was grateful for the reminder of just how exhausted I had been and the chance to rest and recharge. To fully embrace the slower pace of the holiday season, I disconnected from social media, uninstalled my apps, and set an out-of-hours notification on my email. I’ll admit I lasted 2ish weeks out of 4 but still tried my best to limit those distractions.
The slow life has taught me the value of surrendering to the present moment and simply observing, much like one does in meditation. And whilst it doesn’t change anything, it also changes everything. By that, I mean how you feel towards situations, as a fresh set of eyes can be great for problem-solving.
Setting clear priorities to dodge the hustle culture
As year 22 ended, my mental health wasn’t good. I was drained and exhausted. I’d made no time for planning and, more importantly, DREAMING! I’d become busy with being busy – again, operating on autopilot.
My days were filled with a frenetic pace of activity and a relentless pursuit of success and accomplishment with no real roadmap or consideration for my well-being. Still, I was overwhelmed with the demands of capitalism, urging me to strive, do more, and be more.
Amidst all this hustle and bustle, I lost sight of the slower, more mindful way of living I so desperately craved. My evenings were filled with scrolling through social media, my mind racing with the endless “what ifs” of life. Social media scrolling is my go-to when I want to distract myself from how I feel.
Logically – a good ol’ sit down and plan session is the answer to nearly everything, that and a long walk, but I wanted to save time on to-do lists because it left little time for my slow-living activities.
Eventually, I realised my striving was aimless, costing me more time and causing ‘what if’ anxiety.
Something had to change. Again. I yearned to live a life guided by purpose, meaning, and kindness – to slow down and focus on the things that truly mattered. But how could I possibly do this in a world that seemed so intent on pushing me towards greater productivity and achievement?
A friend reminded me whilst I can do it all (do I even want to). I can’t do it all at the same time.
I was getting myself into a muddle because I didn’t know what I wanted, therefore trying to cover all bases and getting into an organisational mess! I’m not amazing at the organisation side of things. My mind loves freedom, and being organised can feel like I’m being tied down, so it’s no surprise I’m not a list maker or a diary keeper. There needs to be a ‘ritual’ involved to get me hooked. You know, burning intentions in the fire or a naked full moon swim where I make a promise to be better is more my jam. 😉
Tools to help me prioritise
In the spirit of my slow-living ethos ( the willingness to make changes), I’ve found some new tools to try out, including Mind Meister, Todoist and scheduling 15-minute – mind wandering walks, scheduling in free time and a promise to reduce multitasking.
Practising mindfulness for a simple life
I’ve learned to take the slow living principles pretty much anywhere I go, whether it’s fast paced or not. I see them as a set of tools instead of a location, i.e. living in the countryside. I remember returning to my childhood home after many years away; memories of a bygone era flooded my mind. I recalled the afternoons spent at my nan’s house, munching on toast slathered with Marmite. Good times! And yet, despite the warmth and love that filled my nan’s home, my time in that place was also marked by the pain and suffering inflicted upon me by the neighbourhood bullies. My childhood town was grey, deprived and didn’t have much going for it, and I got out of there as soon as possible.
But now, as an adult, I have returned many times to that same place, able to approach it with a sense of mindfulness and non-judgment. I no longer see the grey, dreary streets of my youth. I can now appreciate the fullness of the environment, taking in both the graffiti-covered bus stops and the lush, verdant trees and woodlands (which have always been there) that tower above the town.
Sometimes I wonder how different my childhood might have been if I’d discovered mindfulness and could seek solace in the trees as I do now.
When revisiting locations and circumstances that don’t exactly bring me joy, yet I want to apply my mindful teachings for self-growth and letting go purposes, I’ve discovered the power of great questions!
Questions I like to ask myself to cultivate mindfulness
Thanks to the website ‘Mindfulness Exercises‘…
- What do I judge in others that I, too, embody sometimes?
- What is this moment asking of me?
- What thoughts, beliefs, or stories am I holding onto that no longer serve me?
How self care needs to be more than surface deep
Self-care, much like mindfulness, has become a buzzword, and it’s often associated with lovely baths, relaxing massages, music, candles, etc. In my experience, these are surface self-care methods as they don’t address the root of the problem, though they may lead to discovery since we are in the mood to let the mind wander.
As an example, my friendships in year 22 could have been better. My inability to manage my diary and my resistance to figuring it out meant I’d double-booked and cancelled many plans. 🙁 The self-care involved in this process felt huge because I had to look at why I didn’t want to spend time with certain people, why I couldn’t tell them, and why I wouldn’t find ways to help me be better at managing my commitments. It’s been a struggle to give myself space for that work, but the reward has been immeasurable!
So yes, self-care can be as simple as a soothing bath or a quiet evening at home. But it can also be about stepping out of our comfort zone and taking on the emotional challenge of finding the root cause.
Getting outside to combat stress
Nature is a great role model for the slow lane.
Nestled atop a hill between two breathtaking valleys, my home is my paradise – a place of springtime lambs, summertime moors ablaze with purple hues, autumnal golden hours, and winter starry skies. It’s a far cry from the grey, dreary place of my youth, and I still find myself marvelling at my good fortune to be able to call this place home.
But even in this idyllic setting (cold welsh cottage and all), there are days when I don’t feel like venturing out into the world. On those days, I have to remind myself that it’s okay to take a moment to rest and recharge. I must be kind to myself and remember that breaking old habits takes time and effort, like scrolling aimlessly through social media…
But when I do manage to step outside and take in the beauty of nature, something magical happens. My troublesome thoughts melt away, and it feels like I can conquer the world. And while it may seem small, even something as simple as getting dressed in my favourite yoga pants can motivate me to get out for slow movement – taking my Asana practice in the fields with the sheep is one of my favourite things to do. Baaah.
Nature habits which work for me
On those days when it feels tough to get outside, I remind myself that I don’t need to go far to find peace and solace. I took up bird watching in the lockdowns, so just getting in the garden to fill up the feeders counted towards my nature time. In times of turbulent change, I crave ease and familiarity, so I have several short, circular walks on my doorstep that require no advanced planning or consideration of the weather.
Other habits include:
- Cloud watch
- Morning brew in the garden
- Listen to bird songs or wind blowing through the trees
- Watch the weather change from the window
- Take a few deep breathes whilst on the doorstep
Discover my biggest and best slow-living tip
How do you eat an elephant?
One piece at a time.
This is what I recommend to anyone wanting to apply the slow-living lifestyle. It’s a vast topic, and trying to apply it all simultaneously will most likely cause overwhelm. Start by finding your piece and work on it until it feels manageable – remember some days you’ll feel like you’re acing it, and others you’ll fall off the wagon but remember practice makes progress. Take a few breaths and notice your progress – maybe that could be your piece of slow living to start with? 🙂
Thank you for your time and attention
Love Chelsea x