LIVING SLOW & SLOW LIVING
A Welcomed Slow Start To The New Year & My Plans To Keep It Up
Happy New Year everyone, a year i’m sure many were wishfully and hopefully awaiting, given all of the challenges of 2020. Although with everything going on in the US right now and globally with the continued spread and fight against Covid, you’d be forgiven for wanting to start things again already!
I personally, aside from the societal challenges around us all, have had a very welcomed slow start to 2021, with a leisurely first week or so of living slow.
One of my favourite new habits I’ve gotten into in the last few years is booking the first week of January off. The end of the year from a work point of view always ends up being exceptionally busy and hard work, and even though I also booked the week before Christmas off, I ended up working, emailing and dealing with things regardless … but fast forward to the first week of January and it’s the peace and quiet you wish for on your annual leave (and very nearly email free). Everyone else has paused, no ones manically trying to wrap things up before the Christmas break – spamming you 247, and my leave always feels actually restful. It’s perhaps the only holiday in the year where I feel like I get a real closure from work. So over the last few years I’ve really made a point to book the first week off and give myself a slow and restful start to the year, i’d highly recommend it.
Given the UK is in tier 5, an effective national lockdown, and I am still home following my return in December for the holidays, there’s not been much to do except stay home and chill out. It’s not like I needed much excuse anyway, but the new year so far has consisted almost solely of Netflix binge watching and spending time with my family at home. I have a knack for being able to do little without much boredom or itchy feet to get out, sometimes I feel a little guilty i’m not capitalising on the ability to go for walks with Ruby, exercise or read my mountain of half read books, but at the same time, my lazy bottom is very happy laying on the sofa in front of a log fire in my comfy clothes. So the latter is what i’ve been doing.
It’s a luxury that’s rarely afforded in everyday life, and so rather than beat myself up, i’m enjoying the time I have to do this.
Whilst a whole year of this type of slow living is nigh on impossible given the need and demands of working life (and perhaps this much slothing would lose it’s novelty after a few weeks anyway, not to mention mean my physical health would take an unhealthy drop – i’m probably averaging 94 steps a day), there are a few takeaways for me, and perhaps you, that I would like to carry ahead into 2021 and beyond.
Time to do nothing. Slowing Down. Living Slow.
The last decade has felt consistently and increasingly fast, pacey and demanding, and 2020 was the first moment the rat race has been slowed down for me and it certainly has made me realise how I need those pauses and that generally slower pace – spending time where it matters, not just where’s shouting loudest. And not relying solely on holidays and weekends for slowing down, but setting boundaries and better prioritising so life more generally is calmer, more considered and less stressful. Of course you can’t rely on a global pandemic to give you those rest bites, reminders and to force you to ‘stay home’ (and nor would I want more of them either), but it’s become much clearer to me as a result of the last year that I want to live more slowly, to stop rushing, and sometimes to do nothing at all.
Slow Living. On Purpose.
I want weekends with no plan so that we simply can wake up and … just be. Time off work without a packed social agenda or exhausting travel plans, time to sit on the sofa, read a book, go for a walk, sit in the garden, bake a banana bread, do some yoga. Do something or do nothing, it doesn’t matter, there is no plan or expectation. Just time, to enjoy, to appreciate, to soak up and appreciate the mundane.
Aside from last year, when we had no choice but to slow down and spend our weekends and annual leave finding joy in doing little and living slowly, when was the last time you took time away from work to simply do nothing? When was the last time you weren’t rushing, cramming and speeding through the day, week, month year?
I appreciate for many the thought of more of ‘this’ probably fills you with dread and fear given we’re locked in and have been for so long (and I imagine more so if you’ve not been able to work too – for me nothing changed here, my job and week was just as demanding if not more but I got to lose the commute, the lack of self care and had the comfort of working from my own home), but to be honest it’s the thought of returning to the pace, demands and stress of life before that fills me with dread. I’m not sure I could physically keep up with my old self anymore.
“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds” Carl Honoré
Of course it’s not ‘doing nothing’, theres a beauty to living slowly and wonder to be found in slow living that is far more than doing nothing. It’s about finding an appreciation in the small things, not packing life to the brim in the search of ‘more’, ‘next’, or ‘purpose’. Finding joy in the smallest of everyday moments when we give it the time and appreciation it deserves. Taking time to cook and prepare your food, having dinner together, talking, and enjoying the food rather than rushing & watching the clock as it’s already 9pm and you’ve got more work to get back to. It’s enjoying a mindful slow start to the morning, a cup of tea in bed for me, rather than the usual panicked race to not be late in the office. It’s making a point of going outside for a walk and having an appreciation for nature because it’s a luxury to be able to get out, breathe in the air, and soak up the wildlife. It’s not rushing, not doing too much, not over committing, not over filling, not over pressurising yourself everyday. It’s not taking for granted the simple, yet often overlooked, moments and wonder in life. And critically, it’s not filling your time with things that don’t add any value to YOU, your happiness, your health and your life.
I saw something recently on instagram which read something along the lines of ‘productivity is not about getting all my work done, it’s about balancing all the things I need to be healthy, happy and live’ – which really hit home to me. Slow living to me isn’t just about living slowly, it’s about boundaries, balance and prioritisation – allowing the important things time.
” …slow living is not about living your life in slow motion; it’s about doing everything at the right speed and pacing instead of rushing. By that same logic, slow living is not about losing time by going slowly; it’s about gaining time by doing the things that are most important to you.” Kayleigh Dray
If you haven’t watched Disney’s Soul yet, then I also recommend a weekend movie afternoon to watch it. We can waste so much time chasing a future life we think we need or want (perhaps it’s work, money, finding a purpose or our spark, or living for ‘when we have X we can be happy’), when in reality finding beauty and appreciation in every day moments, living for today, and having gratitude for what we do have, is what ultimately makes our life fulfilling and wonderful.
The long and short of it is, whilst I’ll never stop work, travel and socialising (they are all things I love and miss dearly), I will ensure I spread things out in my diary, make time for nothingness and slowing down, protect and prioritise my time to ensure that each day reflects all that is important to me (including my health and my mind, not just a work to do list) and perhaps just stop squeezing so much in, stressing about things that aren’t important to me and rushing to do everything right now.
I want to maintain some of this slow living i’ve discovered, and continue to reap the many benefits of living slowly, mindfully, and consciously.