Slow living requires an active change in our lives, not only in what we do but in how we think. Many of us, myself included, are often stuck in a go, go, go mindset. When we’re mentally charged all the time, settling down physically can be difficult. Slow living is not only about being in the present physically but mentally, too. This week’s Slow Series post features a list of slow living activities, as well as ways to shift our thoughts and mindsets to embrace a slower way of life.
Slow living activities are really based upon a person’s own preferences. The activities I have listed below are far from complete and can be modified for personal preference. Let me know what sorts of slow living activities you enjoy!
Cooking and baking
Walking and hiking
Arts and Crafts
Knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, painting, pottery, weaving, embroidery — there are an endless array of hobbies. These sorts of arts and crafts do tend to require us to live in the moment and serve as a reminder of what joys slowing down can bring.
Whether it’s listening to your favourite artists or taking up an instrument, music is a wonderful way to decorate our time. More than that, getting lost in music and truly savouring it is a wonderful way to invite more slowness into your life.
For a long time, I found meditation difficult, but, just as with arts and crafts, there are numerous forms of meditation. Sitting in silence, breathwork, and guided meditations are just some of the ways to meditate.
Tea + Coffee
Brewing our own tea and coffee is a wonderful way to slow down. Really consider the ingredients you add. Pay attention to how you brew your herbs or your coffee, think about your actions, give thanks for the ingredients and the time spent drinking your tea/coffee. Savour the taste and notice the notes of the tea or coffee. This simple activity takes only a few minutes, but I’ve found it can have a profound impact on my mindset and priorities for the rest of the day.
Particularly individual exercise, although team sports are a wonderful way to incorporate more movement in our lives, can remind us to be in the moment and, while it may sound counterintuitive, slow down. Too often, in busy times, we neglect our physical wellbeing, and slowing down also means making time for physical health. Exercise doesn’t have to mean running at the gym for 30 minutes or an afternoon spent mountain biking. Exercises like tai chi and yoga can help us settle into slowness, and plenty of free videos are online to do from the comfort of home.
Connecting with Nature
Whether it’s sitting in the sun, going for a nature walk, collecting autumn leaves, or learning about herbalism, there are numerous ways to connect with the world around us.
These activities are just some of the ways to invite slowness into your life. For me, the biggest hurdles to slowing down have been mental. Self-doubt and the need to constantly be doing something that’s considered productive are my two biggest challenges, and it’s not surprising. Being (constantly) busy is thought of as being productive and valuable, but it’s mentally and physically draining, not to mention unsustainable.
Living slowly can be a big shift. Finding new and different ways to live our lives can provide a valuable sense of slowness.
Live in time with the seasons
Before I made a conscious effort to slow down, the change of the seasons simply meant whether or not I needed my winter coat and how early the sun would go down.
Now, listening to the earth’s cycles is a way to slow down and appreciate my surroundings. This can mean taking nature walks or using herbs that are in season. The Herbal Academy has wonderful posts on which herbs are in season throughout the year. Another key way for me to be aware of and to appreciate the changing of time is to shop locally for food. We have a weekly veg and fruit box delivered from our local organic farm shop, along with ½ dozen local hens’ eggs. This has, at least where we live, only meant a few pounds difference in our monthly food budget, but it’s had a profound positive impact on living in time with the world. Not to mention that the quality of the food is above and beyond what we’d get in the supermarket.
Adopt a more natural lifestyle
Slow living encourages us to make use of what we have. This can include adopting a whole foods diet, or at least making an effort to eliminate some processed foods in favour of homecooked meals. Another natural living aspect which I’ve loved incorporating into my quest for slowness is creating my own cleaning products, as well as switching to natural beauty products.
Make your meals at home
Sometimes we all need shop-bought bread or a pick-me-up treat, but, on the whole, making meals at home brings a sense of slowness to our lives. There is such a joy in watching bread rise in the oven, in seeing soup bubble over the stove, in the scent of a spiced apple loaf filling the kitchen. Abandon worries over creating perfect meals and enjoy learning new recipes or cooking up some family favourites.
Limit social media time
Cutting back the amount of time I spent on Facebook and Youtube and stopping Instagram entirely not only gave me more time to do things I actually wanted to do, but I found I was happier, too. This doesn’t mean that I won’t ever go back to using Instagram, and I often find myself spending too much time watching Youtube videos, but with conscious effort, I can spend more time living in the moment. Social media is designed to keep us scrolling and while it is wonderful for keeping up with friends, it’s also a huge drain on our time.
Often, people talk about how much busier life is today than it was years ago. And while there certainly does seem to be more going on, I don’t always think that’s a fair assessment. We have so many modern conveniences and technologies that are designed to free up time in our lives and make things easier for us. Alongside these conveniences have come distractions like social media. Sure, our grandmothers might not have been expected to work a 40+-hour a week job, raise a family full-time, do the housework, volunteer, play a sport, and manage socialising with friends, but they also didn’t have the technological distractions that we have today.
Get into nature more often
If you’ve read a few of my blog posts, then you’ll know I constantly advocate for getting into nature more often. It’s often easier said than done, and I still have to make a conscious effort to get outside enough. That being said, getting into the natural world is an instant reminder to slow down.
Nature does not rush. Flowers bloom and leaves fall in a rhythm and cycle that has existed for thousands of years. I find that there is nothing more calming or restorative than spending time (even if it’s just five minutes) in nature.
Try a new hobby
Immersing ourselves into new things is so important. Often, in our busy lives, we get caught up in a repetitive pattern, doing the same tasks over and over again. Making the time to try something new is a wonderful way to get out of that cycle and slow down.
I believe that everyone benefits from slowing down, whether that’s just ten minutes a day or devoting day-to-day life to slower, simpler living. What a better way to do this than to incorporate slow living activities into our lives. Some of these activities may appeal and others may not. The joy of slow living is that it can be tailored specifically to what you enjoy, and there isn’t a wrong way to slow down.