THE ART OF SLOW LIVING | Embrace a slow lifestyle

Modern society can be hectic. You run from one meeting to the next, on top of maintaining a busy social life, and the weekend agenda is also full. It is the reality of the society we live in today. In response to this hectic way of life, 'slow living' is becoming increasingly popular. The name already reveals what it stands for; you embrace a slow lifestyle, meaning slowing down. Everyone does this in their own unique way and pace; from living in a van to meditating for 10 minutes on a regular basis. In this blog, we explain what slow living is and how you can apply this lifestyle in your life. 

“Sometimes, slowing down is the best way to speed up.” 
- Mike Vance 

Back in time  

Let's start at the beginning, where the slow living lifestyle began. We go back in time to the 1970s. Although it was not called 'slow living' back then, a lot of inspiration is drawn from this era. It was the time where many people went into nature to get back to themselves. When many people escaped everyday life by taking off in their vans. It's also the era where 'do it yourself' brands like IKEA became popular. A time when many people enjoyed doing things on their own with attention and awareness, taking time for themselves and their hobbies again.  

Balance is the keyword of the 1970s. Whereas the mass production and consumer behaviour of the 1950s and 1960s showed its negative side effects especially in the environment, a need for balance arose. This need created a rediscovery of nature and a new form of living together. People did this by doing simple things with great care. For instance, going to the forest for a day with a picnic basket, making your own clothes, and growing your own food. People started slowing down and wanted to take their time in every aspect of their lives. 

From slow food to slow living  

It wasn’t until the late 1980s that a term was attached to this slower lifestyle. It all started because of the rise of fast food. When fast food made its appearance in the heart of Rome, a countermovement emerged. Chef Carlo Petrini introduced the slow food movement. The aim of this movement was to bring back appreciation for traditional cuisines and local ingredients. People got their food from the local market on Saturday mornings instead of at chain shops. Traditional dishes became important, time was again taken to enjoy food together; not only when eating it but also when preparing it. Over time, 'slow' was also applied to other aspects of life, such as work, travel and parenthood. Today, we also have better-known terms for this such as slow travel and slow fashion.  

Slow living was also one of the terms that were created, and it became much clearer what the concept of slowing down your life was. It became a way of living, by being conscious of your time and doing everything with great care. You can apply slow living by consciously adding activities to your life, such as walking, but slow living is also mainly a mindset. Living a more mindful life and allowing fewer stimuli into your life. Just slowing down in life in any way possible. For example, by checking your breathing pace, setting different priorities and being patient when something goes a little differently than expected. 

Why is slow living important?  

Slow living is different for each person, but everyone feels the need for balance. With our fast-paced society, mental health issues are becoming more common. To prevent these issues, people look for a solution. Slow living can be an effective tool. By sometimes stepping back and completing your to-do list with attention. For instance, you can apply Kanban method. This involves making a few simple agreements with yourself and adjusting them if you feel things aren’t working as you would like. It can be as small or as big as you like. Like stepping into the woods without your phone or meditating for ten minutes at the end of your day are part of slow living. It's about taking a moment to reflect on your life and unwind yourself.  

The corona pandemic caused people to be home more often. This made us realise more how nice that actually feels. A need arose to rediscover hobbies, be in nature, and in the process a bit of self-care. Slow living, through its versatility, can offer this peace of mind to many people. It does not cause you to lose time, but rather to gain time for the things you find most important. 

“In order to seek one's own direction, one must simplify  
the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.” 
- Plato 

How do you slow down?  

As mentioned earlier in the blog, slow living is a way of life. It is something you can apply to every aspect of your life. But if you want to start living it, it can be overwhelming. There are countless ways to apply slow living in your life. Of course, you can choose to buy a van and take off, but there are so many other ways. Like taking a bike, instead of the car, for that little errand at the supermarket. Or create a morning routine where you don't touch your phone for the first 30 minutes. This way you wake up without your head being immediately fed with excessive information.   

Go for an hour's walk or start forest bathing every day. This immerses you completely in nature and opens up your senses. You see all the leaves, feel the wind pass you and hear all the animals walking through the forest. You take in every detail of the forest; a kind of mindful walk through nature. This way, you clear your head for a while and unwind in nature.  

Or reduce your screen time, our phones are always 'on' as well as our heads. By downloading an app or keeping a timetable, you can easily track how long you spend on your phone. Also, some people choose to go on a retreat for a few days to regain their peace of mind. Just turn off the phone, leave the stimuli behind and don't think about anything else. 

What are the challenges you may encounter while slow living?  

It can be difficult to apply slow living in your life. Unfortunately, it does not always come without struggles. For example, having a pretty busy schedule, with no way of doing anything about it. If your work sets a certain deadline or you have social obligations, sometimes you can't escape an overflowing agenda anyway. This can make it hard to slow down your life. Next to that, it's a challenge to adapt certain new routines in your life. Sometimes you fall back into old habits and this is quite normal. It's important to give yourself some space, after all, you are used to your old busy life. 

“Slow living is all about creating time and space and energy  
for the things that matter most to us in life,  
so ask yourself what you stand to gain.” 
- Brooke McAlary 

Not sure where to start? We have compiled a small list to get you going. Slow living is about doing everything consciously and mindfully. You don't have to do more, but rather less. Examples are:   

  • Do one task at a time, so don't fold laundry with your phone in your hand, but only fold laundry.   
  • Try breathing in and out quietly for 10 minutes without distractions before getting out of bed and starting your day.  
  • Put on your walking shoes and go into the woods once a week without your phone.  
  • Monitor your screen time. Slowing down is often disrupted by our phones and the continuous stream of notifications.  
  • Pay attention to your breathing more often. Sometimes we unconsciously start breathing very high. A few deep breaths in and out helps keep you grounded for a while again.  
  • Block time in your agenda, say half a day a week, and do nothing at all. Dare to be bored.   

These are six easy ways to apply slow living in your life, but there are many more. Above all, do what makes you feel good and really try to look at the small aspects of your life. That way, you will make your life just a little less hectic and create your own balance.