The Art of Slow Living: A Complete Guide to Slowing Down


So what is slow living? The essential purpose is to recognize that life is worth slowing down for. It’s about intentional living, reconnecting to your natural rhythms, and learning to appreciate life.

woman slow living

This lifestyle choice isn’t defined by where you work, where you live, or any other external factor. It is a lifestyle anyone can adopt because it is a choice you make every day to be more conscious and aware of how you live your life.

What is Slow Living?

Slow living means letting go of the idea that more and faster means better. It means being present, taking the time to appreciate life, and living in alignment with your values. Slowing down is about being conscious of each decision and how it will affect your well-being, as well as the well-being of the world around you.

Slow living has so many facets, from slow food to slow fashion to slow travel. Today I want to focus on the inner attitude of slowness that you can cultivate because I believe that this is the heart of slow living.

As you slow down and take time to live intentionally, you nourish your well-being and discover the joy that rests in all corners of your life.

Intentional Living

In today’s society, it’s common to live on autopilot. Waking up, making coffee, eating breakfast, and driving to work are all done without ever taking a moment for intentional decision. When you live like this, you get lost in the shuffle of your daily tasks. You forget to take time to question if you are living the life you want.

Being intentional is about creating space between your thoughts and your actions to understand your ‘why’. This understanding helps you be present in every decision you make, whether you view it as big or small.

This space is where change can begin to happen. With so much of your life happening without your intention, you can end up eating food you don’t want, working a job you don’t find fulfillment in, buying things you don’t need, and perhaps even spending time with people who don’t inspire or uplift you.

In this space where you discover your ‘why’, you can begin to uncover your true feelings around the way you’re living and find how you want to incorporate slowness into your life by creating intentions aligned with your values.

Living in Presence

Mindfulness or presence is another integral part of slow living. Being present is an invitation to truly enjoy the task (or lack of one) at hand. Whether it’s eating, doing the dishes, creating art, or anything else you may do in your day, being present gives you the space to enjoy all the many facets these daily tasks have to offer.

In presence, slow living is born. Being present is about embracing the journey instead of racing to a finish line you’ve created in your head. It’s about enjoying the texture, the smell, the sights, and the sounds that are present at any given moment.

Living in Gratitude

A final principle of slow living is gratitude. Being grateful for what you already have, awakens you to the love and joy present in your life. It helps you slow down and question what you truly need.

Slow Living is For Anyone and Everyone

Finally, slow living is for everyone. More than an aesthetic, this lifestyle can be adopted by anyone at any time. Adapting to slowness is an internal choice that transforms how you see and interact with the world.

You don’t need to throw away your phone, move to a cottage somewhere far away, or quit your job. Of course, you can do those things if they resonate with you, but slowing down is about taking time to enjoy the mundane, the little everyday moments, the things you love, and everything else that makes up the journey of life, whatever that means for you.

Why Should I Practice Slow Living?

If you feel stressed and overwhelmed, you are not alone. Somehow, life has become a giant checklist, and everyone is racing to get through it, never questioning if it’s what they want.

Slow living offers a remedy by challenging the idea that speed, stacks of accomplishments, and ticking things off a checklist make up the most important parts of your life. Through slow living, you start to see that this illusion of business and productivity only creates a distraction from your true purpose of our being.

This facade of being busy and productive often takes over our lives. It feels as though everything must come quickly and conveniently and that any time spent not being productive is a waste of time. But do you want your worth to be defined by how busy you are?

The truth is, I don’t think we’re intended to be productive machines. I believe that we are just as much a part of nature as animals, plants, and trees. And just as nature does not hurry, we needn’t either. By following our hearts and taking steady steps towards our intentional goals, we create change, blossoming and growing.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

LAO TZU

Slow living isn’t about doing things as slowly as possible, so much as it is about moving in a rhythm that suits the well-being of your body, mind, and soul.

There may be times when your life seems to be moving pretty fast, with growth and change happening at a rapid rate. There will be other times when things seem to be at a standstill, the world moving in fast forward around you.

This alternative way of living is about realizing that for the flower to shoot up out of nowhere in spring, it spent months underground preparing for its inevitable growth.

It’s about learning to accept those different phases of life and experience the beauty in each.

Benefits of Slow Living

The benefits of slow living are countless as it can bring peace and harmony to your life in ways that you never expected. Here are a few of those benefits:

  • Becoming attuned to your natural rhythm
  • Teaches you to take time to enjoy life’s small pleasures
  • Helps you gain perspective to issues in your life
  • Lowers stress levels, which has countless health benefits such as a lower risk of heart attack, better sleep, and a more serene day to day life
  • Fosters better relationships by creating more space to spend time with the people who matter most
  • Increased productivity by helping you be more intentional and focused with how you spend your time
  • Brings more fulfillment by reminding you to savor each minute
  • Helping you save money through conscious consumerism and being more mindful about your purchases, and buying only what you truly need
  • Teaches you how to surrender and let go

How Do I Start Slow Living?

Here are a few steps you can take when beginning your slow living journey to help you get started.

Start Small

Slow living doesn’t need to be an overnight change. It takes time to implement, like any lifestyle change.

Schedule time for yourself to practice being slow and stick to it. I’ll talk more about slow living habits and hobbies you can incorporate into your life below.

Find a couple of ways to bring slowness into your life that resonate with you, and be aware of how each practice influences the way you feel in your body, mind, and soul.

Practice Self-Awareness and Intentional Living

Self-awareness means having conscious knowledge of your feelings.

Through self-awareness, you begin to find your ‘why’, question the way you do things, and discover how you’d rather do them instead.

Intentional living starts by acknowledging that you have a choice in everything you do. Find your ‘why’ then, make conscious changes aligned with your values.

Discover how to set intentions here.

Explore and Evaluate What is Most Important to You

As you practice self-awareness, begin to define what’s important to you as well as what you can live without. Make those things that you deemed essential a priority, and learn to say no to non-essentials.

Tips for Slow Living

There are many ways to begin practicing slow living. Here, I’ll share a few of my favorite ways I’ve incorporated slowness into my life.

Plan Time to Be Slow

Especially if you have a busy schedule, a job, or perhaps people you care for other than yourself, it’s good to plan time for slowness. At first, try to find an hour or so a few times a week you dedicate to your favorite slow living habits or hobbies.

As you practice this in your allotted time, you will find that this slowness begins to spill over into your daily tasks.

Be Mindful During Daily Tasks

Having many things to do doesn’t mean that you can’t practice slow living. Every daily task is an opportunity for slowness.

Brushing your teeth, driving, drinking your morning tea, or anything else you do, can be practice for slow living when you’re present and mindful.

If you’re brushing your teeth, notice the smell of toothpaste and the texture of the bristles. As you’re drinking your tea, watch the steam rise from the cup and feel its warmth on your hand, noticing the fragrant smell.

Every task has these subtle experiences that pass you by if you aren’t mindful.

 Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

FERRIS BUELLER

Pick one or two of your daily tasks and commit to being present and experiencing them fully.

Learn how to find joy in the ordinary and embrace the every day here.

Create Boundaries & Learn to Say ‘No’

Learning to say no is an essential part of practicing slow living. Embracing the fact that you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything all the time can transform your life, helping you make time for the things you value most.

Discover how to get started creating more space in your life for what matters most by checking out this article I wrote on setting boundaries.

Stop Multi-Tasking

The truth is, your brain can only work on one task at a time. When you constantly switch between tasks, you create stress for your brain. You also prevent yourself from getting into a flow state, where you can be at your most productive.

Read more about why you should stop multi-tasking at Health.com.

Working on one task at a time allows us to be more mindful and present. The idea that feeling erratic and busy is what it means to be productive is one you let go of as you begin to bring slowness to all areas of your life.

Mindfully Cooking and Crafting

Cooking and crafting are some of my favorite ways to take time out and slow down. The art of mindfully chopping and preparing a meal from scratch makes me feel connected to the food I eat every day.

Spending an afternoon crocheting, drawing, sculpting, or painted leaves me feeling calm and centered.

The key is to let go of the end result and enjoy every step along the way.

Get inspired by these 40+ ‘slow’ hobbies and how they can change your life.

Mindful Eating

Eating is another daily task that you can allow yourself to be fully present while doing. Most people enjoy eating because there is so much to enjoy about it. From the flavor to the scent to the texture, there are many nuances to experience.

But how often do you eat while looking at a screen or while daydreaming, only to realize you’ve finished your food without really tasting it?

Mindful eating is an invitation to enjoy all food to the fullest and brings a meditative element to something many of us do about three times per day.

To learn more about mindful eating, you can check out this article on Headspace.com.

Taking Breaks from Technology

There are mindful ways to use technology that can be beneficial to your slow living practice and bring nourishment to your life. However, it can also be a source of stress and tension.

Start by being aware of how your technological habits make you feel. If you find that your excessive scrolling and bingeing leaves you feeling depleted and exhausted, create rules around how you use your technology. Delete your media apps, or put timers on them so you know how long they’ve been open.

You can also choose the hours of the day (like 8 p.m – 10 a.m.) that you don’t use your phone. Ultimately, taking breaks from technology is about finding the ways it can best serve you instead of you being a slave to it.

Taking Time for Yourself to do Nothing

How often do you give yourself permission to do nothing? In a world where productivity is valued so highly, it’s easy to feel as if every moment needs to be filled with something.

I encourage you to take the time to do absolutely nothing. Just allow your mind to be free. Go on a walk to nowhere. Doodle mindlessly. Stare at your ceiling or the sky. Watch the grass grow.

This ‘white space’ where you can take time to simply be is so beneficial for contemplation and understanding. Through this permission to do nothing, you can create a sense of space for yourself in a world that can otherwise feel hectic and fast.

Meditate

Last but not least, practice meditation. Meditation is an invaluable tool that invites presence, intention, and slowness.

If your new to meditation, I recommend checking out Headspace.com. (They also have a beautiful mini-series on Netflix. ) I used this app when I was first learning to meditate. The bite-size meditations, calming voice, and clear explanations helped me to connect with the practice.

Whether your a new meditator or a seasoned one, commit to your meditation practice each day. Even when life gets busy, 5 or 10 minutes can be a powerful way to connect with yourself and practice slow living.

Find my 3 favorite, short and blissful guided meditations here.

Through slow living you can discover the little joys in life and find inner peace. This alternative lifestyle has reshaped my view of life into something more gentle, beautiful, and enjoyable over the years and with intention, presence, and gratitude, slow living can transform your life too.

Thank you for being here,

Rebecca

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