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Do you feel tired or stressed out from having too much going on?
Do your days have a tendency to blur together?
Do you often feel there aren’t enough hours in the day?
If so, this may mean you’re living a fast-paced life… and this can often lead to more harm than good. Both physically and emotionally.
While the idea of keeping busy is often idolized in modern society… it does not mean that this is the only path acceptable when it comes to validating our lives.
Engaging in the practice of slow living is a viable option. And one that doesn’t mean you still won’t get stuff done or be a productive member of society.
It’s ok to take a step back… to slow down and decompress. Plus, your body and mind will be better for it.
And a happier, healthier you is capable of anything.
There are certain things you can do slow down and start changing your life and we’re going to talk about some of them today.
What Is Slow Living?
Slow living is a way of living based on the idea of a slower approach to all aspects of everyday life.
The purpose of slow living is to be more intentional with your time and to live more mindfully and balanced. Slow life has numerous benefits, including:
Unfortunately, many people choose a completely different way of living. They refuse to even entertain the idea of slowing down… at all.
These people choose to navigate towards instant gratification and seek answers fast. It’s not all their fault… the Internet, smart phones and tablets play a big role in this need for speed.
For example, many of us have been found guilty of “Googling” an ailment when we don’t feel well… instead of taking a deep breath and making an appointment with a doctor.
People who can’t slow down live with an urgency about them that can have serious health consequences… including sleep disorders, digestive complaints, chronic headaches, fast aging, mood fluctuations and more.
On some level, I know you agree with me that slow living can make your life better… even with just a few small tweaks to your daily routine.
The world as you know it won’t end if you slow down just a bit. I promise.
In this article, I am going to provide 11 steps to help you get on track towards developing the slow living practice… and making it a top priority in life.
1. Wake Up Earlier and Have a Nice Breakfast
For this step, you’ll need to start by going to bed earlier.
The earlier you go to bed, the easier you can wake up. Plain and simple.
By getting up earlier, you will have more time savor that cup of coffee or tea… and actually enjoy breakfast, which is still considered the most important meal of the day.
Think about it like this: If you rush your breakfast, then you will feel rushed for the whole day. This is not right… and also not healthy digestively.
Instead, start your day slowly and with intention.
Also, when you are eating your breakfast, try to stay focused on food and do not get distracted. This means no checking your phone and no watching TV. There is plenty of time for that later.
It is better for your mindset to listen to inspirational music… or simply spend your breakfast time in complete silence.
2. Do Not Use Your Phone or Computer Unless You Need Them for Work
It is totally fine to check and answer your emails or text messages… but constantly being on your phone leads to a slew of problems.
Head and eye strain are common, for starters.
Then there are those unwelcomed distractions, which can really mess with your head.
I would recommend you to dedicate a block of time to check your computer and phone… and adhere to it, barring an emergency.
For example, you can surf on your phone in the morning after breakfast, from 9 to 10am. Do not use your devices after the dedicated time because it will only serve to entice you back into that fast-paced lifestyle you are trying to escape!
3. Connect With Your Family and Friends
One of the most important parts of slow living is having an emotional and physical connection with others.
There are many ways to strengthen your relationships with family and friends.
You can text, email, write a letter, call, video chat… or visit them face to face.
What an idea that is!
Also, be sure that when you are spending time with your favorite people… you are actually in the moment. The precious present.
Really be there with them… be focused and avoid distractions, including your phone.
There are many good ideas of how you can spend quality time with family friends. Check out this list of 13 board games for a family game night for inspiration!
4. Enjoy Being Outdoors in Nature
Most of our time is spend closed off in an office, our home, trains, buses and cars.
We rarely have time to go outside and appreciate nature… at least not as much as we’d like.
Who said our lunch hour had to be spent in a diner or running errands?
Who said we had to eat our meals indoors because it’s cool outside? That’s what coats and layers are for.
Yet, even when we go outside, many of us spend the time on our phones.
Leave the distractions behind and make a commitment to get outside.
Go for a walk, jog or bike ride.
Observe nature and your surroundings. Enjoy the serenity of greenery and water, take a deep breath of fresh air, feel the sensation of wind on your face.
Try to do this at least 3-4 days per week, if not daily… either by yourself or with a friend, colleague or relative.
Enjoy the time in nature together, which also happens to be a great way to strengthen your relationships.
5. Drive Slowly
Speedy driving is a bad habit, commonly associated with people who live a fast-paced life.
Not only is speeding dangerous, as it can lead to accidents… but it can also lead to road rage. Neither is good.
Try to slow down when you drive.
After all, what’s the rush? If you’re worried about being late, leave earlier.
As a bonus, if you drive slowly, you may actually enjoy the ride.
Take in your surroundings, put on your favorite music… and make it a peaceful time to contemplate your life.
Driving can become your personal meditation space if you stop rushing.
6. Do Less
It is hard to develop the habit of slow living if there are a million things and chores on your “to-do” list.
Reconsider this list and cut what can be cut.
Make a conscious choice to do less.
Your child missing one soccer practice, so that you can have dinner with a family member passing through town, won’t get her kicked off the team.
And if it does… red flag! You dodged a bullet there!
Try to focus on those things that are really important and what really needs to be done… versus what can wait or “go”.
Do not try to complete 50 different tasks in one day. Instead, make sure you’ve earmarked space in-between appointments and tasks for you to slow down.
7. Take Care of Yourself
It is important to find time for yourself… no matter how busy you think you are.
You can cook your favorite meal, go to the spa, cozy up with a good book on the couch, exercise, meet with friends, watch a movie… anything to help you relax and slow down for just a little while.
Self-care is very important, even though many people ignore it. Here are some things you can do right now to take care of yourself and contribute to your slow-down practice:
8. Take Time to Enjoy Your Food
As a child, I remember that my father was always the last one eating. In fact, my mom was usually clearing the table before my dad was done with his plate.
He liked taking time with his food… and always enjoyed the flavors. In hindsight, my dad may have been on to something, not to mention a prime example of a person who practiced slow living.
Here are some studies proving that eating slowly is better for your health:
9. Make This World A Better Place
Even the smallest good deed or kind word can have a profoundly positive impact on a person… not to mention, the world.
Charity is a significant part of slow life because it makes your life more meaningful. When we help others, we help ourselves too.
A study conducted by Harvard Medical School in 2010 revealed that doing good things helps reduce the harmful effect of stress. Stress can lead to gut problems, poor heart health, lowered immune system, and other issues.
There are always good things you can do.
It can be as simple as helping your neighbor mow his lawn or paying for a stranger's coffee at the drive thru.
Looking for a larger commitment? You can often find volunteer opportunities online… or with your local church, hospital or schools. Contributing to your community or neighborhood is a great and fulfilling way to step closer to slow living.
10. Find Your Purpose
I strongly believe that one of the fundamental steps to the practice of slow living is finding more meaning in life. Take your time and think about what you want and what your values are.
Explore yourself, your personality and enjoy the awareness that comes with it.
People who have found their life purpose do not just enjoy slow living… they have a tendency to live longer. In 2018, Harvard Medical School published a study, the results of which have shown that the risk of death among people who have purpose in their lives is 20% lower than among those who do not have any purpose.
While finding true purpose in life is not the easiest task… it can be done. To find out how, check out these five steps to discover what makes your life more purposeful.
11. Cultivate a Positive Way of Thinking
Another effective method to start practicing slow living is to keep your mind free from the anxiety and stress that is usually perpetuated by negative thinking.
The less negativity you have in life, the more positivity you are able to bring into your mind.
As a result, you feel better, more peaceful, and more relaxed.
Final Thoughts on Slow Living
You can give your life more meaning and more purpose if you just slow down… even a little bit.
This is 100% true.
And while it may appear to be a daunting task, it is easier than your think… and obtainable for anybody seeking it.
You just need to want it.
Slow living is extremely beneficial for our mental and physical health.
It helps us to appreciate our life more, find a purpose… and forces us to think more about what we are doing and why, rather than just living without thinking.
To learn more about how to make your life more purposeful, be sure to check out our article about the 7 steps to a more meaningful and purposeful life.
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.