Over the last several years I have been focusing on living with only the things I need and love. I have shared some of this journey here on my blog and over on YouTube. I have consistently taken steps towards this goal of living with less. Each month I spend time intentionally decluttering my spaces, and over the last several years I have done spending fasts, including my no spend year back in 2019. One of the primary reasons for this journey was to get to a place where I had less physical possessions to take care of so I have more time to live at a slower pace. Pursuing this journey has also caused me to really evaluate my life – what I spend my time, energy, and money on. I have learned more self awareness in the last 5 years perhaps than in the rest of my life! I do recognize that everyone is in a different life stage and what is “slow” for me might look different than what is slow for you. Our youngest is now 18, so I have a lot less responsibilities around child care than I did when my children were young. However, I believe whatever life stage you are in, you can find what works for you and your family – still choosing behaviors that will support a slower pace. Today I wanted to share with you 7 tips for slow living.
The first tip is to EVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES. What do you spend your time, energy, and money on? You could probably look at your bank statements and your phone time usage for a picture of this if you’re not sure. Oftentimes we may THINK we have certain priorities – like cultivating healthy family relationships, health/fitness, habits that help us grow – like reading, taking a course, talking to a counselor or therapist; but in reality the statistics (bank statements and phone time) tell a different story. At times, it can be easy to live life on autopilot – not even recognizing that you are developing priorities whether you are conscious of them or not. Intentional living is naming your TRUE priorities and making day in and day out habits that will curate the life you ACTUALLY want. Say them out loud, write them down, or tell a friend.
Knowing your priorities can help you decide if there are things you need to do differently, which brings me to my next point: slow living requires us to CUT OUT THE NOISE. Living in the time we live in, we are bombarded daily with messages – the news, social media, email, and more! We need to choose what we will allow to speak to us. Putting boundaries on habits that are a time suck like internet scrolling, social media, TV, and shopping will give us more time to live slowly. It will look different for each person, but maybe you can decide how much time a day you will a lot to these activities, perhaps you can take a day off of social media or internet use each week, or maybe delete apps and take time off for a period of time to reset your mind and habits around these things. Studies have shown how addictive social media in particular is! We need to set boundaries and not allow this NOISE to be ever present!
The next tip for slow living includes BEING PRESENT IN THE MOMENT. I must admit, as a type A who makes lists and plans things out, this has been difficult for me. There are times when I struggle to live in the moment because I am worried about something in the future. It is a good practice to be aware of this, and try to redirect your mind to enjoying the moment. I think it is especially important to live in the moment during routine things. It can be really easy to live life on autopilot, especially in the routine moments of our days, instead of really enjoying even the mundane. There is some sacredness to the mundane – tasks we perform everyday can almost become a moment to treasure because these little everyday mundane moments add up to the wholeness of our lives! Slow living requires us to not live on autopilot, but to really enjoy everyday practices and living in those moments rather than thinking about the next thing that needs to get done. You are consciously aware of the things you choose to do instead of just going through the motions of life.
The next tip is DON’T OVERCOMMIT. I think it is much easier to say yes to things than to say no. We must be intentional about our “yes” because commitments pile up much quicker than we anticipate or expect. If you are hesitant to say no because you don’t want to let someone down, remember that you need to do what is best for you and your mental health. You are not in charge of someone else’s feelings. If you are unable to do something and the person is “let down,” really that is on them and not on you!
On a similar note, UNCOMMIT TO THINGS THAT ARE NO LONGER SERVING YOU. This one can be even more difficult than saying “no.” It is important to evaluate the responsibilities you have and which ones maybe are not working well for you. Cutting out those things in life that are not serving, you or are worse yet detrimental to you, will provide extra time in your schedule to slow down.
Another thing that has helped me to live slowly with intention is to SCHEDULE IN REST. Particularly if you are someone who tends to struggle to slow down, scheduling in rest will give you permission to rest. Each morning I like to spend time quietly, for me that is reading the Bible and praying, prior to getting on social media or checking email. I also schedule one day a week where I don’t work and for the most part stay off of social media. This day helps reset my mind and body so I am forced to slow down. On this day I find it easier to do things like reading, self reflection, and self care that I don’t make time for on other days because I feel “too busy.”
Lastly, another way to slow down is to MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO GET IN NATURE. This doesn’t have to be a big production where you’re pulling on hiking boots and going out for a hike that will take half the day. Walk around the block, or even just step out into your backyard. I have found that putting away my phone and getting into nature resets my mind.
I hope this post was encouraging to you today! I don’t have all the answers, and I still struggle with some of these things, but I am AWARE – and that is the first step to changing behavior!