As the world gathers speed, slow living is making a comeback. Slow Living is a movement where people decide to live a more balanced, meaningful life through slowing things down and appreciating both the world around them and what they have.
Some people define Slow Living as simply making more time for self-care. Others define it as stepping away from ‘traditional’ goals – such as full-time employment or mainstream schooling – in pursuit of a slower lifestyle.
However you choose to define Slow Living, there are some core principles that tie it together. For example, breathing, self-care, and prioritizing relationships.
It’s not always easy to slow down or push ‘pause’ on commitments, but sprinkling some Slow Living principles throughout your daily life can help you feel calmer, especially when the world feels chaotic. Now is the time to take a moment and really embrace the movement of Slow Living. Here are some of the core principles of Slow Living. Maybe you’ll find something here that will work for you.
Take time to breathe (deeply) Simple? Yes – but all too easy to forget. Deep breathing is an excellent (and free!) way to invite more slowness into your everyday life. Consciously slowing down your breath will help you to feel more connected to your senses and grounded in the present moment.
Embrace simplicity One of the main philosophies of the Slow Living movement is the idea of voluntary simplicity, where you can choose to remove the excess from your life to enjoy things more. This could take the form of decluttering your home Marie Kondo-style, where you get rid of the items that no longer ‘spark joy’. Your home is your den, your comfort, so getting rid of mess will let you create a warmer, more welcoming place to enjoy each day.
Slow down to cook Cooking is a great way to experience slow living. In fact, there’s even a Slow Food Movement that promotes traditional cooking. Try slowing down to cook and appreciate eating food – engaging with the sensory experience of textures, tastes, and smells. Not only will this help you enjoy your food more, but it’s also an excellent way to practice mindfulness.
Spend more time on relationships that matter Slow Living is essentially a reallocation of time. It’s about deciding what values are deeply, truly important to you, and seeing if you can reshuffle your life to create more space for these values. Spending time with loved ones is an important value to many, yet it’s often difficult to prioritise. When it comes to relationships, little things can go a long way. For example:
Enjoying a meal together (virtually if they’re in another household, or in person if they’re someone you’re self-isolating with) without any other digital distractions.
Setting aside 30 minutes per day to listen to a loved one (whether digitally or in person), again free of any other distractions.
Set aside time for yourself While it’s not always easy to step back from our commitments, it’s still important to have alone time peppered throughout your life. Alone time is healthy for your mind. Alone time also lets you refresh, and gives you time to work on your own projects and goals.
Move your body regularly Moving your body – especially in nature – helps to shift your attention from the buzz of daily responsibilities and onto the current moment. By moving regularly – whether that’s doing an exercise session at home or taking a morning stroll – you can allow your brain more time to rest.
Take digital detoxes A recurring theme throughout all Slow Living principles is spending less time tethered to digital devices – be that your phone, television or computer. Taking regular digital detoxes often forces you to slow down – to nap instead of scrolling the internet or watch the clouds instead of checking your emails.
If you take just one tip from the Slow Living movement, it’s to ‘disconnect to reconnect’ – to nature, yourself, your surroundings – as often as you can. Your mind and body will likely thank you for it.
Want to double click on this topic? Find here 10 books about Slow Living:
1. Slow: Simple Living For a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
What is slow living? It’s a way to find happiness by stepping away from the never-ending demands to constantly succeed and acquire more and more. It’s easy to get stuck in the carousel of frantically wanting, buying, and upgrading the things in your life. The philosophy of simple living is about finding the freedom to be less perfect and taking time to enjoy the pure joys of life: a walk in the forest, sharing laughter with family, a personal moment of gratitude. Reconnecting with the living world can help you integrate moments of peace, joy, and mindfulness into an otherwise rapid life.
2. The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm in a Busy World by Haemin Sunim The world moves fast, but that doesn’t mean we have to. This bestselling mindfulness guide by Haemin Sunim (which means “spontaneous wisdom”), a renowned Buddhist meditation teacher born in Korea and educated in the United States, illuminates a path to inner peace and balance amid the overwhelming demands of everyday life.
By offering guideposts to well-being and happiness in eight areas—including relationships, love, and spirituality—Haemin Sunim emphasizes the importance of forging a deeper connection with others and being compassionate and forgiving toward ourselves. The more than twenty full-color illustrations that accompany his teachings serve as calming visual interludes, encouraging us to notice that when you slow down, the world slows down with you.
3. Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest by Wayne Muller It has become our standard greeting: “I’m so busy.” Now, in a book that can heal our harried lives, the author of the spiritual classic How, Then, Shall We Live? shows us how to create a special time of rest, delight, and renewal–a refuge for our souls.
Our relentless emphasis on success and productivity has become a form of violence, Muller says. We have lost the necessary rhythm of life, the balance between effort and rest, doing and not doing. Constantly striving, we feel exhausted and deprived in the midst of great abundance, longing for time with friends and family, longing for a moment to ourselves.
With wonderful stories, poems, and suggestions for practice, Muller teaches us how we can use this time of sacred rest to refresh our bodies and minds, restore our creativity, and regain our birthright of inner happiness. In Sabbath, he has given us a revolutionary tool for cultivating those necessary human qualities that grow only with time: wisdom, courage, honesty, generosity, healing, and love. You’ll want to read this slow living book again and again.
4. Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey In Rest Is Resistance, Tricia Hersey, aka the Nap Bishop, casts an illuminating light on our troubled relationship with rest and how to imagine and dream our way to a future where rest is exalted. Our worth does not reside in how much we produce, especially not for a system that exploits and dehumanizes us. Rest, in its simplest form, becomes an act of resistance and a reclaiming of power because it asserts our most basic humanity. We are enough. The systems cannot have us.
5. In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging The Cult Of Speed by Carl Honore We live in the age of speed. The world around us moves faster than ever before. We strain to be more efficient, to cram more into each minute, each hour, each day. Since the Industrial Revolution shifted the world into high gear, the cult of speed has pushed us to abreaking point. In Praise of Slowness is the first comprehensive look at the worldwide Slow movements making their way into the mainstream — in offices, factories, neighborhoods, kitchens, hospitals, concert halls, bedrooms, gyms, and schools. Defining a movement that is here to stay, this spirited manifesto will make you completely rethink your relationship with time.
6. How to Not Always Be Working: A Toolkit for Creativity and Radical Self-Care by Marlee Grace Part workbook, part advice manual, part love letter, How to Not Always Be Working ventures into the space where phone meets life, helping readers to define their work—what they do out of sense of purpose; their job—what they do to make money; and their breaks—what they do to recharge, and to feel connected to themselves and the people who matter to them. Grace addresses complex issues such as what to do if your work and your job are connected, provides insights to help you figure out how much is too much, and offers suggestions for making the best use of your time. A creative manifesto for living better, it shows you how to carve sacred space in your life.
7. Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May An intimate, revelatory book exploring the ways we can care for and repair ourselves when life knocks us down. Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered. This beautiful slow living book is a memoir that will invite you to reflect on the pace of your own life.
8. Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness by Dominique Browning In late 2007, Dominique Browning, the editor-in-chief of Conde Nast’s House & Garden, was informed that the magazine had folded-and she was out of a job. Suddenly divested of the income and sense of purpose that had driven her for most of her adult life, Browning panicked. But freed of the incessant pressure to multi-task and perform, she unexpectedly discovered a more meaningful way to live.
9. Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver Courtney Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives. We are often on a quest for more—we give in to pressure every day to work more, own more, and do more. For Carver, this constant striving had to come to a stop when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Stress was like gasoline on the fire of symptoms, and it became clear that she needed to root out the physical and psychological clutter that were the source of her debt and discontent.
In this book, she shows us how to pursue practical minimalism so we can create more with less—more space, more time, and even more love. Carver invites us to look at the big picture, discover what’s most important to us, and reclaim lightness and ease by getting rid of all the excess things.