What is slow living? Another question inspired another hashtag than we never really think about except to cut and paste in the hope that someone will see our post!
I guess like many things it varies from person to person but essentially it is taking a more mindful and slower approach to everyday life. We live in a rat race as they say, we’re encouraged to be the best that we can be to strive to the top of our game but without any thought of the other consequences that come with it.
We’re made to feel that if we don’t have as million instagram followers we’re not doing it right. Stats are important apparently, so much that people resort to faking it and buying followers to look like they are keeping up. We live in a world of fast food and fast fashion, everything is available at the click of button, hell yes even I’m guilty of an online buying binge every now and again. It gets to the point where we ask ourselves who are we trying to keep up with and why?
Now I know many people have already written on this subject and Hygge and other Scandinavian lifestyles have become popular as we find ways to get more out of life but I want to talk a little more in relation to me and how it affects my life and mental health situation.
I was that ‘weird’ child who used to shut herself away in her room to read and do art, I liked being on my own, I now realise that I was (and still am) introverted. I never got called that because I wasn’t shy and people like to categorise things according to stereotypes, FYI you don’t have to be shy to be introverted. I just find people draining, I prefer one on one or small groups of people, I can deal with certain situations I guess I’m probably more of an ambivert, it just depends on the people.
These days I know when to take time off from the world, or at least mentally prepare myself when I know I have to go and stuff that I’m not particularly fond of. Over the years my circle has shrunk to fewer and fewer people but these are the people who I love spending time with, they don’t make me feel obligated to stick around and have fun, they understand that we all need time apart, that we have our own lives, that we are individuals that lead different lives. You’ll be surprised at how many people don’t get that because as far as beings go, humans are inherently selfish.
But there is nothing wrong with being selfish especially when it comes to preserving your mental health. You only have so many hours in a day and you can’t do everything, so turning down a request or two to focus on one thing doesn’t mean you’ve let people down. Two half-arsed jobs do not make a whole! You are entitled to have time to yourself to recharge and do the things that you like. it took me a long time to figure this out, I guess wisdom does come from experience. I don’t care if you think I’m boring, it’s not your life to live. I’ve learned to switch off when suddenly people start announcing that I should do this or I should do that because they think they know better. Nobody knows me better than I do, only I really know what I should do with my life and that it is to do the things that make me happy.
I get that I have already been practising some aspects of slow living already but that doesn’t mean I’ve been practicing them right. It’s all good and well making your own clothes and cooking from scratch but not if it’s rushed and causes stress. I know that my main fault is that I’m always trying to do too much at once, that I never really get to appreciate it. I’ve been getting better over the years but recently not so much, I’ve been slipping back into my old habits and it’s counterproductive.
It’s hard to break bad habits but I’m making a concerted effort to slow it down and appreciate the things that I do. I didn’t become self-employed to mass produce half-thought through items that are on trend. That is not me. I didn’t learn to make my own clothes for them to be ill-fitting and half-finished because I got stressed out over them being perfect. I didn’t spend all that time making a meal to forget about it and let it burn because I was too busy doing something else.
Slow living isn’t just about taking a five-minute break to relax and catch your breath, it’s about enjoying and appreciating the things you do. We recently went on a trip and between destinations we decided to take the train instead of a plane. Usually I hate train journeys but I live in the UK and our rail system is basically expensive and crap! Even though we booked last-minute because we basically forgot and was a little more expensive we actually didn’t mind because it was worth it, we arrived at our next destination relaxed and not stressed, sometimes the longer option is the better option.
Slow living is not about living the perfect life, as at times it is going to throw you a curve ball and you need to be ready for that but for me slowing down is necessary and needed so that I can appreciate myself and my time more. Living in the moment doesn’t always mean being spontaneous and adventurous, sometimes it just means taking time to stop, listen and appreciate what is around you and most of all appreciating yourself.
Photo: taken in Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto, ON, Canada by me.