Do you crave a stress-free lifestyle? One where you can put yourself first and have more time to do the things you enjoy? If so, you may want to transition to slow living.
Though there is no standard definition, and the term slow living can be interpreted in many different ways, it usually refers to a lifestyle where you slow down, avoid anything too hectic or demanding, and focus your time and energy on the things that truly matter to you.
Many who adopt this lifestyle choose to live close to nature as it helps them de-stress, however slow living can be practiced anywhere. Here is a list of ten tips to slow down and embrace a healthier, more relaxed lifestyle…
Slow living tips
1. Develop a night routine
One of the keys to slow living is taking the time to cultivate healthy habits. We all know how important sleep is for our mental and physical health, and if you have decided to embrace slow living, one of the first things you should do is develop a night routine so you can optimize your eight hours.
By having a routine, you make it easier for your body to fully relax, so it can switch to sleep mode as soon as you go to bed. You don’t even need to spend a lot of time on this: twenty to thirty minutes could be enough. Some of the activities you can incorporate in the routine are:
- Reading a book
- Turning off digital screens
- Breathing techniques for relaxation
- Bedtime yoga poses
2. Turn off your phone
Whether we realize it or not, smartphones are designed to constantly grab our attention. Calls, text messages, emails, updates, and all other kinds of notifications are a huge distraction, and unless we turn off our phone, we are going to waste too much time and energy on them.
By turning off your phone or simply putting it away for just a couple hours (or however long you want), you are able to interrupt the constant stream of information, interactions, and distractions. This can do wonders for your mental health and overall well being.
One of the goals of slow living is to become more aware of your thoughts and actions, and focus on just one thing at a time. Unfortunately, if you always keep your phone at hand it’s going to be close to impossible: your mind is going to be busy either looking at the phone, or thinking about it. Turn off your phone from time to time… and feel liberated.
3. Appreciate every meal
It’s amazing how many things we take for granted. Being able to eat healthy, natural, delicious food is definitely a privilege, one we should be grateful for. The third tip to live a slower, more fulfilling life is to appreciate each meal and focus on the act of eating.
If you want, you can even practice mindful eating — a form of meditation where your mind focuses exclusively on food rather than “multitask” while you eat. Often, as we eat our meals, we start thinking about our to-do list, watch the news, answer text messages, or listen to music. During mindful eating, on the other hand, you concentrate on the taste, smell, colors, and texture of your food, eat slowly, and appreciate every bite.
Slow eating facilitates the digestive process and makes food more enjoyable. Most importantly, you become aware of what you eat and how you eat it, rather than eating compulsively.
4. Embrace silence
Just like most of us have gotten used to being bombarded with too much information and visual stimuli — similarly, our ears have gotten used to constant sound and noise, and this isn’t good news for our mental health.
To practice slow living, find inner peace, and become a calmer person in general, learn to eliminate unnecessary noise. Though long periods of silence may be uncomfortable at first, they will heal your mind and increase your level of awareness.
With a constant stream of noise, it’s very hard for your mind to concentrate on things. Think: the last time you had to study for an exam, focus on a difficult task at work, or solve a complicated puzzle, your environment was probably quiet, and that helped you accomplish your task. Though there’s no need to be super aware all the time, excessive noise can be too distracting.
5. Cultivate a relaxing hobby
When you immerse yourself in an activity you enjoy, you lose track of time and quickly change your mental state. Cultivating relaxing hobbies can help you embrace a slower lifestyle because once we become adults, we tend to think that spending time on the things we enjoy is being “unproductive”, so subconsciously we may avoid them.
While spending hours on a new hobby probably won’t make you any money, it does help you relax, unwind, and de-stress. Depending on the hobby you cultivate, it may even improve your physical health: some examples are long walks in nature, yoga poses, Tai Chi, and gardening.
No hobby should either seek or need rational justification. To wish to do it is reason enough. To find reasons why it is useful or beneficial converts it at once from an avocation into an industry.— Aldo Leopold
6. Do nothing
There is absolutely no need to fill your time with an endless series of tasks and activities. The sixth tip to have a calmer life and practice slow living is to be okay with doing nothing in particular. Though doing nothing all the time equals a wasted life, turning off your mind from time to time is actually healthy.
Just like most of our brightest, most creative ideas come to us as we are about to fall asleep, and our room is dark and quiet — our most important turning points in life usually happen when we take time off, stop working, and do nothing. When we are in a relaxed state, our brain waves slow down and we are able to tune into our subconscious.
We have been taught that laziness is a bad thing, and in general, it is. But that’s because we link the word laziness to junk food, lack of exercise, and lack of motivation — rather than relaxation and me-time. Be okay with being lazy from time to time: it improves your well being.
7. Be slower
Though society may have conditioned you into doing everything as quickly as possible, it’s not necessarily a good idea. When you do things too quickly, you tend to make more mistakes, limit your creativity, and do things on autopilot. You are also more likely to experience stress.
If you want to practice slow living, develop the habit of doing things slowly. So for example, when you read articles like this one, don’t scroll through the page and leave the site after two seconds; when you engage in self-care, take your time; when you consume your meals, eat slowly and appreciate your food.
We have seen how mindful eating makes food more enjoyable, but the truth is that being slower improves any experience. I get it: time is scarce, and you don’t want to waste it. However everything takes time, so usually doing less is the most sensible approach.
8. Don’t own a TV
One of the main reasons people choose slow living is so they can have more control over their time, and consequently more control over their thoughts and emotions.
The problem with watching TV is that you have very little control over what you see and hear; you simply accept its stream of information passively. Your rational mind may be able to take in useful information and reject negativity, but there is no way your subconscious can filter everything.
Plus, watching TV can be incredibly time-consuming: it is estimated that the average American still spends about two hours and a half each day watching TV. When you embrace slow living, your time is precious, so make sure you reduce or eliminate the time spent in front of the box. It will be better for your mental health as well.
9. Declutter your home
Clutter has many negative effects — I have listed ten in this article. In general, the more things you have lying around the house, the more stress you will experience.
Though you may not notice it, clutter triggers many negative thoughts. You look at piles of stuff and you start thinking “where am I going to put this?”, or “I need to tidy up”, “this is a mess”, and so on. Over time, these thoughts create stress and prevent you from living a calm life.
If you haven’t already, take some time to declutter and get rid of all the items you don’t use or need anymore. Quality is more important than quantity, and if you want a slower life, it is recommended that you adopt a more minimalist lifestyle.
10. Be the healthiest you’ve ever been
The tenth and final tip to practice slow living is to make your physical, mental, and spiritual health a priority. Think: when we are overworked, stressed out, and sleep deprived — it means we aren’t taking our health seriously.
Slow living is all about spending more time doing what’s good for you rather than chasing external goals imposed by society. The truth is that if people realized the importance of health, they would take care of it every single day, and stop obsessing over things that aren’t as vital.
Ultimately, without health you can’t do anything: so from today forward, embrace slow living, improve your diet, take care of your mental health, and exercise regularly — ideally outside, where you can breathe some fresh air and connect with nature.
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