So are you ready to Slow down?
I thought it might be helpful to briefly explore some Slow Living tips for the most common ‘everyday’ areas and how you can integrate a Slow philosophy in your day to day life. There are so many aspects to Slow Living, part of its beauty for me it’s how personal it is! You can pretty much apply Slow Living principles to any aspect of life you choose, but let’s take a look at a few key areas:
(Psst! This is part 3 in the Slow Living series. If you’d like to play catch up, here are the links to the previous two posts:)
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When I started writing this post I immediately got to thinking about the concept of a ‘Slow home’. As the old adage goes:
“Home is where the heart is”
So my thinking was that if you wish to lead a more heart-centred and meaningful life, that should start in the place where you live. With this in mind, I started doing a little research, and was pleased to discover that there is actually a pre-existing ‘Slow Home Movement’.
The official Slow Home Movement was founded by Calgary-based architects, John Brown, Carina van Olm and Matthew North, who are committed to re-educating homeowners, architects, designers and home builders on the basics of what makes a good house.
“A Slow Home is the antithesis of this too-fast mindset. It`s a house that has been designed to be more personally satisfying, environmentally responsible, and economically reasonable.”
I LOVE the idea that a home should be “personally satisfying”, just reading that makes me feel cosy!
According to their philosophy, the ‘Slow Home’ should be simple to live in and light on the environment. They believe a house should be the correct size for the occupants, with organically flowing, multi-functional spaces and specific organisational areas (for example, having a well-organised entry point to the home where you can jettison your keys and other pocket detritus, and put your shoes and bags away neatly), have an abundance of natural light, and be optimally positioned to gather and store the sun’s heat, as well as being close to local amenities/work in order to limit car use.
Earthships are the bomb! They are the ultimate eco-home and one day I’m totally gonna build me one of these babies. But until that happy day comes…
If like me, you are not yet in a position to build yourself a perfectly proportioned/located super eco-home, not to worry – you can definitely incorporate some Slow Living tips for the home, y’know, in your actual home.
My own attitude to what my home needs to be changed drastically when we downsized, and I find that the simpler my home becomes, the happier I am in my environment.
Slow Living tips for the home:
- Get organised. Not crazy person organised, but organised enough that you don’t get stressed trying to find your phone, keys, a pen etc…have specific places for these things, a simple drop tray by the door will do.
- Declutter. Ridding yourself of what you don’t need can be life-changing. Honest! I speak from personal experience.
- Surround yourself with things you LOVE. Your slow home is an expression of you. It should fill you with joy just to look around it.
- Let the light in. Open your curtains, open your windows, let the air flow!
- Bring the outside in. Many plants are excellent for cleansing the air and make a house beautiful. If you have a garden or other outside space, use it! Make it an extra room, spend time outdoors and connect to the rhythm of the seasons.
Kelly Anderson over at Simple Home, Simple Life has some great Slow Living tips for creating a Slow home.
Related reading: 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life
The Slow food movement was really where Slow living all began. Think delicious home-cooked fare, made from local, organic and fresh ingredients, according to a recipe that has probably been handed down from generation to generation. Picture this meal being eaten al fresco, in the company of loved ones, over several relaxed and glorious hours, savoured and enjoyed, with plenty of wine, conversation and laughter.
It’s a far cry from instant noodles and microwaved ready meals, scoffed in minutes and eaten alone standing at the kitchen sink.
Make meal times special. Eating should be a sociable time, a pleasurable time. Not just a brief refuel and off you go again…
Slow living tips for mealtimes:
- Eat meals at the table. If you have children, try to avoid falling into the trap of routinely feeding the kids something early on and getting your own food later. I know it can be hard to organise, especially if your children are young and eat earlier in the evening, but it’s so good for them to learn to associate meal times with sociability and family togetherness. Talk, ask each other questions, answer them, be present.
- If you live alone, you can still adopt a slow food philosophy – very often if there is only one to cook for it can be tempting to not make the effort, but let me ask you this: You still enjoy good food right? Why shouldn’t you go all out and make yourself your very favourite meal for one? Some of my favourite Slow food moments have been meals I have eaten by myself, relaxed and unhurried, savouring the flavours and being utterly in the moment (Oh, I do love to eat!)
- Cook food from scratch. Get out a cookbook or go online and make something scrumptious you’ve never tried before.
- I’m going to be a bit naughty here and go against the standard SLOW food grain by suggesting that sometimes it is OK to eat the bad stuff. The Swedes have an absolutely delicious word: ‘Fredagsmys’, which literally translates as “Friday-cosiness”. On Friday evenings in Sweden, after the working week is done, it has become a sacred ritual to don your ‘mjukisbyxor’ (soft trousers) and veg out with loved ones eating whatever is easiest to prepare. Have no qualms about flinging a store bought pizza in the oven – the idea is about feeling good and unwinding. The key is balance – doing this every night is not ideal, but ‘Soft Trousers Day’ has become a much-beloved ritual in our home and one I whole-heartedly endorse!
- Have a picnic. Pack up your favourite food to go and head out on an adventure. Some food just tastes best outdoors.
Slow fashion is a reaction to the throw-away culture of fast fashion, where trends change constantly and last seasons garments are discarded and derided as being unstylish only months after being the height of cool.
It delights me that I’m seeing more and more ‘young’ people (haha – I can’t believe I just wrote that #grumpyoldwoman) on Instagram talking about how a year or two ago they would never have entertained the thought of buying second-hand clothes, but have changed their ways and now routinely buy pre-loved as a way to offset the environmental damage of fast fashion. As someone who has shopped in charity shops and second-hand stores for years and years, this pleases me greatly. Good for the planet AND good for the wallet. Win-win!
Slow Living tips for your wardrobe:
- Purchase second-hand: Charity shops, thrift stores, vintage shops (Etsy has some great vintage wear!), pre-loved shops, car-boot sales, eBay – make these your go-to for clothes shopping. It can take a little more time to find the right piece, especially if you have something particular in mind, but does come with the added bonus of unearthing some unexpected treasures!
- Even better, revamp your style and save money by organising a clothes swap. Go through your wardrobe, have a clear out and then get together with friends to exchange. Best done with cake. (isn’t everything?)
- Invest in good quality classic pieces which will last rather than flash in the pan trends
- Mend and make do!
- I always prefer buying second hand when possible, but for when this isn’t an option and you want to buy new, consider Stylish, Ethical and Fairtrade Clothing at Peopletree.co.uk or Thought. Not so cheap, but there is a reason for that!
Google ‘slow money’ and you will discover The Slow Money Institute, a non-profit organisation which aims to bring money back down to earth by investing in local food producers.
I like this idea, but I think we are missing a trick here:
Slow money should totally be a thing of its own, not just pertaining to local food, but how we spend money in general. I am hugely passionate about fostering a positive relationship with money, I don’t believe it should be a taboo subject or a cause for tension. Money is not the root of all evil, or at least it shouldn’t be. Money is actually kinda handy and can and should be used for good.
Being mindful of where and how you spend it is, to me, what slow money is about.
I save money where I can, trying not to throw it around extravagantly, living frugally and ‘making do’, but also I don’t refuse items I know would add to my experience. Like so much in life, it’s all about balance.
Slow Living tips for your finances:
- Think carefully about where you are investing your money.
- Buy local. Keeping money in your local economy ensures that it can do what it should be doing – helping to support your communities needs. Take the extra time to visit your local farmer’s markets and independent stores.
- Create a budget so that you can develop a happier relationship with your cash! So often our negative feelings about money stem from not being in control of it.
- Adopt a ‘mend and make-do’ attitude. Try not to spend unless you really need to.
- Spend mindfully, not needlessly. Treat yourself to things which enhance your joy.
Related reading: 3 Simple Ways To Help You Take Control Of Your Spending
Rethink how you approach your adventures!
The gloriously laid back Italians, following their success with the Slow Food movement, started up a Slow Cities initiative, whereby small cities and towns can apply for official ‘Slow City’ status. As you might expect, the bulk of these officially recognised Slow Cities are in Italy, but the worldwide list is huge, with cities all over Europe, Canada, the US, Australia, Japan, China and New Zealand included. You can download the full Cittaslow list here.
To qualify, a city must be vetted and regularly checked by inspectors to make sure it is living up to the Slow City standard of conduct, so you can be assured that the pace will be relaxed, noise, traffic and crowds minimal, and the attitude divinely Slow.
Wherever you roam, whether you are travelling the globe, or just exploring your local neighbourhood, the Slow Travel movement advocates the thorough exploration of an area. Rather than flying through and trying to check off every noteworthy item in the guidebook, Slow Travel is about building an accurate and authentic picture of a place by spending time exploring locally, getting to know (or at the very least recognise) people, and thoroughly engaging in the local culture. This immersive experience provides a deeper appreciation of the beautiful nuances of your environment, rather than just a tourists eye view.
Slow travel needn’t just be for your holidays – try spending some time becoming acquainted with your own area. It’s surprising how many of us don’t actually know much about our own home towns. Visit your local museum, stop for coffee at a local coffee shop, go for a long, ambling walk around your city or local beauty spot. It’s a wonderful way to feel connected.
Slow Living tips for travelling:
- Avoid tourist traps. Not only are you are not seeing the truth of a place when you frequent the most high-traffic tourist areas, but the most popular places are often negatively impacted by the tourist industry, with extra holiday accommodation pushing out locals, and damage being caused to buildings and beauty spots alike with the extra footfall. Visit a designated Slow City!
- Immerse yourself in your experience. You will find a whole new level of appreciation for a place if you really allow yourself to fully be there, rather than mentally preparing for the next place on your schedule.
- Hop on your bike, spend time exploring off the beaten track. If you’re travelling away from home, consider hiring a bike instead of a car when you reach your destination!
- Support the local economy – try to avoid supermarkets. Small shops and markets are not always as expensive as you’d think and the produce is invariably better.
- Don’t be afraid to speak to people – you never know where it could lead you!
One of my favourite slow travel experiences was in getting chatting to a man who was selling beautiful handmade olive oil soaps in a village in Tuscany:
He told us where his olive oil farm was situated and we were invited out to see it. Following a tour of the place, we sat out in the sunshine with his family and another couple who had also wandered in and joined the tour halfway through, and enjoyed a leisurely meal of bread dipped in various flavoured oils, lashings of vin santo, good company and cheerful conversation. When asked where in the area we had been eating, we complimented the local restaurant – at this, he waved his hand impatiently and told us of a local lady who would cook us the best meal we had ever tasted if we just knocked on her door and introduced ourselves! (we didn’t – I couldn’t quite bring myself to knock on a strangers door and ask to be fed, but I still kind of wish we had…I’m certain it would have been a breathtaking feast!)
These 5 areas are the perfect place to start exploring Slow Living, but really you are limited only by your imagination. Slow living is an attitude, it’s the way you approach each aspect of your everyday life.
Since first discovering that I needed to slow down from time to time, it has become ever more deeply ingrained in my thinking. Slow living is no longer something that I turn to when in need of some respite, but something I try to bring to my every day. That’s not to say I never do anything at speed, or set myself deadlines, more that I feel a sense of peace and stability from knowing what is important to me.
Slow Living helps you prioritise, helps you see the beauty of the simple things in life, and I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives.
If you’ve enjoyed these Everyday Slow Living tips, and been inspired to add a little slow to your every day, then you might like to delve a little deeper into Slow Living through the following resources:
Slow living podcasts:
- The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary covers all aspects of slow living for everybody wishing to “say no to a life lived at 110%”
- Explore quietude, home and seasonal living with Ochre and Flax
- Want to slow down but still need to get stuff done? Hurry Slowly will show you how slowing down is exactly what you need to boost productivity.
- The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus discuss living a meaningful life with less.
Slow living books:
“A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.”
‘Present over Perfect’ by Shauna Niequist is the author’s vulnerable and honest account of her journey into presence over perfection, inviting you to join her and consider your own needs in a fast paced world.
“We live life in the fast lane. We race to keep up with the Joneses. We are over-worked, over-connected and over-stressed, and we compete over how busy and important and sleep-deprived we are. But we don’t have to.”
‘Destination Simple’ is a collection of everyday slow rituals for a simpler life from the queen of Slow Living, Brooke McAlary.
“Don’t hurry, be happy”
‘In Praise of Slow’ by Carl Honore is a deeply insightful look at our relationship with speed and the concept of time. An immersive and in-depth exploration of Slow Living, this is one of those books that gets you looking at life in a different way. One of my faves!
“Finding peace and purpose in a hectic world”
‘Slow’ by Jo Peters has lots of actionable Slow Living tips, covering health, well-being, relationships, food, home, nature and work. Nicely put together and easy to read, with lovely imagery.
Slow TED talks:
Carl Honore discusses the moment he realised he needed to slow down and why deceleration it is so transformative.
Jon Jandai discusses his realisation that life doesn’t have to be difficult, and how a simpler life is an easy one.
The Minimalists talk about their discovery that less is more, and how they enriched their lives by reducing their possessions.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these Slow Living tips, let me know how you like to bring a little stillness to your everyday! I’d love to know!