Living slowly has taught me a lot. Most importantly, it’s taught me to be grateful for the little things and the small moments that make life truly special. Slow living has taught me to simply be. Each day is a learning experience and some days are difficult, but there’s certainly more time for gratitude, well-being, and happiness in a life lived slowly.
A Day Lived Slowly details what a day lived slowly can entail. I’ve tried to capture the good, the bad, and the imperfect. Slow living — rather than regular, nameless, day-to-day life — has its own term because it’s so different from the way most people live their lives now. Going against the grain doesn’t always come easily, and the fact that my day-to-day life now looks rather different than many other people around me can create some doubt, but it’s been worth it because I’ve made slow living work for me. Just as hundreds (thousands?) of people blog about slow living, there are an equal number of ways to enjoy slow living and incorporate slow living into your own life. My day of slow living is but a brief snapshot of the many ways one can live slower.
Mornings have never been my favourite time of the day. I’ve never been a good sleeper, and slow living has, sadly, had no impact on my poor sleeping schedule. However, a set schedule matters less than simply making sure I get all my essential tasks completed at some point in the day. Most mornings, the first thing I do is play Animal Crossing. It was my lockdown present to myself back at the end of March and could not have come at a better time — two days after I got my first covid-19 symptoms and became quite ill. It got me through the worst of my illness, through the stress of my post-grad dissertation, and helped to distract myself from months worth of lingering post-covid symptoms (which, after six months, are nearly gone!). While I do try to limit my time on electronics, slow living needs to be realistic to be sustainable, and I welcome anything that eases anxiety and helps me start my day on the right foot. Life is about balance, not perfection. Technology permeates pretty much every area of our lives and while slow living is best when it is limited, there’s nothing wrong with making the best of technology to benefit our slow lifestyles.
Once I’m fully awake, I start to live more ‘in the moment’. I spend the rest of the time in the bedroom in silence, preferring not to have the news, a podcast, or an audiobook playing. I always make the bed. Keeping a tidy home is important to me, and a clean room helps me start the day in a positive way. Morning tea is a ritual I’ve had for as long as I can remember, and I start with at least two cups: earl grey with soy milk and stevia and a herbal infusion of my own making. Before I started living slowly, I’d grab whatever tea blend I saw first. Now I check in with myself and ask my body what herbs it needs for the day. While my tea soaks, I cuddle up with the cats, clean out their water bowls, get the wax melts burning, and open the blinds. It’s a calming ritual I’ve been following for months. In these quiet minutes, I am able to give thanks for these sweet moments, moments I would have disregarded as tedious to-dos before focusing on slow living. Without the need to go, go, go constantly, I can savour the simple moments, enjoy the taste of tea, and watch the birds pecking at the grass for worms.
Morning flows into afternoon as I bake bread, work on blog posts, tweak final ideas as I begin to launch my herbal tea business, make and enjoy a simple lunch (generally homemade bread and leftover homemade soup), read, and study herbalism. I’ve given up on the constant need for productivity. My happiness has increased and my to-do list (whether it’s made mentally or written down) still manages to get done, and I have far less stress living this way. I take breaks for at least four more cups of tea and cuddles with the cats. Oscar, Edgar, and Mei (my cats) have taught me a lot about slow living. House cats are probably some of the best guides in living with slowness and ease. My cats know when they want to eat, when they want to sleep, and when they want to play, and they do just that. Clearly that isn’t realistic for us humans, but we can learn a lot from the ways other creatures are in tune with their needs.
We have more daily freedoms than we think, with many opportunities to incorporate slowness. Slow living has taught me the importance of rest and how to balance relaxation when days are busy. Most importantly, I’ve found there are so many ways to rest. It’s not just napping or laying down to watch TV for an hour or two, but making time for a five-minute meditation, looking up at the sky and watching the clouds and birds for a minute, or simply sitting still and connecting with our bodies and seeing what we need at that moment. Maybe we snack mindlessly when we really need a nourishing cup of herbal tea; maybe our back hurts and we need to stretch for a few minutes; maybe our head hurts and all we need is to rest our eyes for one minute and get a breath of fresh air. Slow living is made up of all those little moments and little choices that transform our lives for the better.
For most of us, the evenings are a time to relax and unwind. Even in a life lived slowly and with intention, there are still stressors and responsibilities that take time and drain our energy. Time still gets away from me when living slowly. Some days there’s a hectic rush to get dinner on the table or a day spent working on the computer, ignoring my body’s needs in favour of getting work done. Since living slowly, I have made it a priority to step back from the constant need to be productive and evaluate what I want each day. One of my goals while adopting a slow lifestyle was to make all of our meals from scratch. Breads, soups, broths, stir-fries, pizza, you name it and I tend to cook it all rather than buying shop-bought. Really, it comes down to my enjoyment in cooking, but it definitely tastes better than things from the supermarket. While there are trade-offs, slow living allows me to be in the present and enjoy my cooking, rather than feel as if I’m trying to slap things together to get on the table.
After dinner, I tend to listen to an audiobook while I clean and put away the dishes. It is during these moments that I realise most just how much time I spend caring for the house and family. While it’s certainly not for everyone, I find that these little tasks are done with joy when living slower. Giving thanks for these little things and these opportunities have created a happier home environment.
To unwind in the evenings, my husband and I tend to play Mario Kart, or he watches Netflix while I read. Slow living has given me time to forge closer and more meaningful relationships with the people I treasure. Part of my nightly routine before I started living slowly was a FaceTime call with my mom. I treasure the closeness of our relationship and our ability to talk for two hours everyday, despite both us not leaving our respective homes due to covid. Slow living has allowed me to find greater joy and appreciation in the close relationships I have.
Lastly, restorative yoga has been transformative for me, particularly Yoga With Bird’s amazing Youtube videos. Before settling into bed, I find gentle stretches can help undo any of the accumulated stress of the day. I tried to keep a gratitude journal, but I found myself forgetting both in the morning and the evening. Instead, by living slowly, I’m more attune to my actions and emotions, and a reflection of my day in the evenings tends to be more positive than when I lived a faster-paced life.