8 Ways to master Slow Living
This month we are having a look at ‘Slow Living’. What on Earth is slow living? Do you have to walk slowly? Or do things slow? (I keep thinking of the slow sloth in Zootopia). While I definitely look like a ‘slow living’ advocate while I am running, it actually has nothing to do with the physical speed at which you are moving…
Slow living has a few different meanings to different people. It started out with SLOW food, and has progressed and developed into all different aspects of life. Essentially, slow living means to consume less, be mindful, and live with intent. I know, these words have probably started to become a cliché, along with the words: organic, ethical and sustainable. But just because it is sometimes overused in social media and clever marketing ploys, doesn’t mean it’s not valid or important.
Here are a few aspects of life where slow living plays a roll:
As I said before, Slow Food is kind of where the whole Slow movement started. Slow Food is the opposite of Fast Food. It is about going back to more traditional aspects of food production with an emphasis on quality ingredients, organic farming, local production, and traditional ways of cooking. People made an acronym SLOW that stands for Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Whole.
Slow living is a way to refocus our energy, time and money to things that are important to us. It is about being mindful and living with intent. It is also about buying with intent. To focus on quality rather than quantity in every aspect of our lives: quality relationships, quality time, quality products. It is about caring about people, the things you already own, your community, the planet. A slow lifestyle helps us get rid of things that are not important so we can spend the time we have on what is important. It helps you to ‘be’ in every moment and to truly find a healthy balance between family, friends, faith, work and anything else in your life.
“Slow living is just living slowly, in whatever and however way that means to you. It’s about knowing and passionately loving the things we value, and designing our lives to spend the most time possible enjoying them. It’s about having intentionality and consciousness in our activities, about escaping the mindless scrolling and unproductive multi-tasking and focusing on purposeful action. It’s about embracing the fact that you’re not doing it all – it’s about doing less, but better.” — Kayte Ferris
Slow travel, in a way, is an extension of your slow lifestyle at home. It is where you connect with local communities: eat local, living with locals while on your travels, going sightseeing at local places or get a local to take you to their favourite places. It is about fully immersing yourself in that culture or place, savouring every little bit of your trip and travelling at your own pace. You get to feel, taste, see and experience so much more, instead of rushing through a place to reach all the Insta photo spots and competing with hordes of other tourist groups.
Slow fashion is a movement that is becoming more and more popular. Slow fashion is, as you guessed it, the opposite of fast fashion. It is about having small production runs (only making a few items of each size or making an item as someone orders to create less waste). It is about using sustainable fabrics, creating timeless pieces, and having a transparent supply chain to show where the buyers’ money is going. It advocates for the fair treatment of workers, animals and the planet. It is about buying quality over quantity so you can wear your pieces for years to come. This gives a lot more satisfaction to the designers, makers and you as a buyer since the whole process is enjoyed and approached with intent.
8 ways to live slow:
Yes, Marie Kondo created quite some hype with something so simple: to get rid of clutter. In our blog post about our studio I mentioned that when our environments are disorganised and chaotic, we feel disorganised and chaotic. The more stuff we have, the more chaotic it gets, so it makes sense to declutter. A good start at living slower is by getting rid of things that don’t “make you feel joy”.
Simplify your life.
I know, this is easier said than done. But if you know ‘why’ you want to simplify your life, the ‘how’ will become a lot easier. Erin Loechner made it simple: “Figure out what matters to you and care more about that. Then, figure out what is not worth caring about, and let it go.” This way you can simplify your thoughts, opinions, calendar, systems… anything that is taking up your time or is playing a part in your life.
“The foundation of slow remains the same: a return to high-quality basics, a re-evaluation of the largely unnecessary ‘must haves’ of modern life, and a focus on going small, local, and community based.” Kyle Kowalski.
Pay attention and be present. It’s as simple as that. Pay attention to what you are doing at any particular moment. Notice the feel, the sounds, the smell and taste. God gave us senses for a reason, so use them. You can start small. Choose one task you do regularly. Let’s say you are doing the laundry. Notice the texture of the different fabrics on your skin. The smell of fresh laundry (or the smelly socks if you want this exercise to be very convincing). Do you hear anything? If you listen carefully, different fabrics make different sounds. I wouldn’t recommend tasting your laundry, but you get what I am trying to explain. Being mindful doesn’t need to take up any extra time. You practice it while you do the mundane, then the mundane can sometimes turn extraordinary.
Disconnect from technology.
First, let me just be very clear: technology is not bad, and it is not a problem on it’s own. Slow living doesn’t mean we need to go back to the dark ages. The concern is when we use technology in such a way that it is creating problems in our relationship with others. We are constantly connected, yet we do not know how to verbally communicate anymore. We spend less time thinking, figuring things out in our head, and more time filling every empty second with more empty entertainment and useless information. We get constant and immediate gratification, yet do not know the pleasure of delayed gratification. I am pretty sure whoever just tagged you in that post will survive if you do not reply immediately. Experience the utter freedom and peace when you leave your phone at home for a few hours while you go for a walk or catch up with a loved one without being interrupted by a dozen ‘pings’ from your phone.
Buy with intention.
Be aware of what you spend your money on. Be mindful of what you buy. Be mindful of what it is made of and how it’s made. Care about the people who made it, the time they spent making it, and the effort they put into it. Care more about quality. When you buy things, buy once but buy well. Buy items that you know will last a long time. Recognise that you, as a buyer, have the power to create change for what you believe is right and for what you are passionate about. Spend your time and money on what is important to you and support businesses and brands that align with your beliefs.
Travel more. Travel anywhere. It doesn’t need to be a long and expensive overseas holiday. Travel to the backyard or park or beach or go on a camping trip. It is a time to connect with whoever you are travelling with, maybe even yourself. Be mindful while you are on your little adventure and truly see what is around you.
“Leave your free time as free time”.
Kyle Kowalski, the founder of Sloww, explained it very clearly. In today’s society it is very ‘trendy’ to be very busy… all the time. We fill the little free time we have with more things to do. We rush and multitask so we can free up time, just to fill it up with more things that will need multitasking and rushing. It is proven that people are more productive when they are not multitasking and when they take breaks. Our bodies and brains need it. So “leave your free time as free time.”
Get some fresh air.
Fresh air will do anybody good. Get out of the house to feel the sun on your face and a breeze through your hair. Humans are meant to connect with nature. Creative people are known for spending chunks of time outside, hiking or going for a stroll as this is where they come up with some of their best ideas. And no, multitasking and listening to a podcast while you go for your stroll will probably not give you your light bulb moment.
Slow living is just living slowly, in whatever and however way that means to you. Kayte Ferris
Slow living is NOT living in slow motion. It is not about trying to live with as little as possible (extreme minimalism). It is not the staged, picture perfect photos we see on lifestyle blogs or accounts on social media where it looks like the only thing we do all day is sip tea or turmeric lattes and contemplate life. Life happens. Kids need to be picked up from school, the dishes still need to be washed and you probably still have to go to work.
In the end, slow living will mean different things to different people and how you adopt this lifestyle is up to you. You can go all out and dust off the mason jars for your homemade jams, or you can take it slow, and gradually make small changes as you go. There is no right or wrong way. There isn’t a ‘slow living’ fairy that will curse you if you don’t do it all. This is about figuring out what is most important to YOU and then spend your time on that.