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  • Christie Johnson

Slow Living: 18 Nourishing Tips For a Better Life

Woman walking through a field in a white dress and hat

Don’t you think the world is becoming incredibly fast-paced?

As a modern society, we are obsessed with speed. It’s always a race against the clock. Time is money.

Even as I write these words my endless to-do list is whirling around in my head. I’m thinking, “How fast can I complete this article on slow living so I can move on to X, Y, and Z?” Oh, the irony!

But what if there were ways to get off the relentless treadmill of modern life? What if we could cultivate a slower, more meaningful existence?

This article covers the definition of slow living, why it’s important, and some simple steps you can follow for a better life.

So, let’s take a deep breath and start living!

What is Slow Living?

Slow living means leading a conscious lifestyle that is worthwhile to you. In other words, slow living is the direct antithesis of the rapid speed synonymous with industrialized life. Often living slow can mean practicing gratitude, self-care, and making sustainable choices. It's about slowing everything down and establishing meaningful connections with the outside world.

We often view “slow” as something negative; a cultural taboo. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, early definitions of “slow” are associated with “sluggishness (mental and physical) and lack of liveliness.” But the art of slow living is about leading a life of purpose and valuing quality over quantity. The aim is to develop self-awareness not only for yourself but for your community and the planet.

The History of Slow Living

The slow living movement first came to fruition in Italy in the 1980s. Protesting against a Mcdonald’s opening in Rome, Carlo Petrini and a group of activists started the Slow Food movement. Slow Food is about defending regional food traditions, gastronomic pleasure, and a slow pace of life. Today, the Slow Food movement is internationally recognized with millions of people all seeking to create slower, healthier, and more meaningful connections with their food and the world around them.

In 2004 slow living gained momentum in the West thanks to award-winning journalist and writer Carl Honoré. In his book Praise of the Slow, Honoré examines our insidious “road runner culture” and makes a compelling case for living life in the slow lane.

From slow and sustainable cities to slow sex, the slow living movement is making incredible waves all around the world.

Why Slow Living is Important

Adopting slow living habits is important because the way most of us rush through life is bad for our health and well-being.

Our insatiable need for speed is diminishing our quality of life. Information overload and unrealistic expectations are the new normal. We’re stressed out, burnt out, and completely overwhelmed.

According to a 2021 study, over half of U.S. workers are experiencing burnout. The World Health Organisation now recognizes burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” which requires serious attention. According to a 2022 study by the American Psychiatric Association, approximately 2 out of 5 Americans rate their mental health as only fair or poor with most expecting to feel highly stressed in 2023.

Stress and constant pressure are synonymous with the modern condition. But is this really how we should be living our lives? As the capitalist status quo becomes increasingly untenable, more people are turning to slow living principles as a form of self-preservation.

If nothing else, slow living is about finding our way back to ourselves and what it truly means to be human.

So, instead of rushing through your life, why not slow down and start living it?

An infographic listing slow living tips
18 slow living tips

18 Slow Living Tips for a Better Life

Learning the art of slow living is easier than you might think!

Keep reading to discover 18 simple ways to help you lead a lifestyle of value and meaning.

Are you ready? Here's your slow living 101!

1. Take a Breath

Yes, it’s really that simple. Start your slow living journey by taking a deep breath.

How often do you stop and check in with yourself and your breath? If you’re anything like me, shallow breathing is the default as I rush from one thing to the next. But studies show that deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, can help you feel more relaxed and connected to the present moment.

Meditation and mindfulness exercises can really help you cultivate regular deep breathing. I cover some of my favourite meditation apps in the slow living resources section.

2. Start Your Day Slowly

It’s 6 am and the dreaded alarm sounds. You’re hit with anxious thoughts about the day ahead. You must get up and get on. But what if you decided to slow it down instead?

Giving yourself more time in the morning can set you up for a more fulfilling day. Why not start your day with a 10-minute meditation, reading your favorite book, or going for a walk? Taking that extra half an hour won’t set you back. I promise.

3. Learn To Say “No”

Saying “no” can feel impossible sometimes. Especially when you feel like you’re letting people down. It’s become a dirty word in a world filled with unrealistic expectations.

We’ve all received that invite to a party we really don’t feel like going to after a long week. To save face, we end up going only to feel terrible for the following day (or days!)

Instead of piling on the pressure, why not give yourself some space? It’s good to learn to set boundaries and say “no” every once in a while. You’ll only show up better for the stuff you actually want to go to!

4. Get Comfortable With Silence

Today’s world is filled with constant noise. From traffic to constant emails, there are so many distractions that can take you away from the present moment.

Silence can be uncomfortable at first. As soon as you press the off button, it forces you to sit with yourself. Your body. Your emotions. Nobody else.

But getting comfortable with the silence can be liberating. It’s an opportunity to reflect and increase your self-awareness. There are also a bunch of health benefits to sitting in silence from lowering blood pressure to stimulating brain growth.

Try finding a quiet moment during your week to just be. See what happens.

5. Spend Time In Nature

I don’t know about you but it would be quite easy for me to spend most of my day inside. Modern work requires most of us to be sitting at a desk staring at a screen. All. Day. Long.

It’s important to spend moments of your day outside. Why? Because spending all of your time inside isn’t a natural state of being.

Let’s talk about biophilia. The biophilia hypothesis was a term coined by Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson. It suggests that humans have a deeply innate affinity with the natural world. Nature is a part of us. It’s in our very biology. We need it to survive.

Plus, there are sooo many mental and physical health benefits from spending time outside.

Check out this guide to walking in nature to find out more!

6. Eat Slow

Slow eating is a great way to practice slow living.

Have you ever caught yourself rushing through a meal? I know I have.

Taking the time to chew each morsel has huge benefits. Eating slower can lead to less stress, appreciating the present moment, and better digestion. It can even help with weight loss.

When you next sit down to eat, consider every bite. And try not to think about your to-do list!

7. switch off

You’ve probably got the memo by now. Social media is addictive.

Constantly checking and strolling through your feed is another overwhelming aspect of modern daily life. Our brains are overloaded with information. The pull of new content is taking you away from your immediate surroundings. Your life right now.

According to a study by Pew Research Centre, 69% of adults and 81% of teenagers regularly use social media in the U.S. We have never been so available.

But what does this kind of relentless connectivity mean for your health? Some studies have linked regular social media use to depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

It’s time to power down. See what you can gain from a short social media hiatus. You’ll get some time back if nothing else!

8. Move Your Body

Regular exercise is a great way to cultivate a slow living routine.

Exercise not only forces you to be in the present moment, but it also helps you maintain good physical health. From reducing your risk of disease to releasing those happy hormones, there are so many compelling reasons to move your body.

Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week can produce powerful results.

9. Practice Gratitude

It’s easier to focus on the negatives than the positives. But reminding yourself each day of what you're grateful for can change your life.

Keeping a journal to make a list of what you’re grateful for is a good place to start. It can be as simple as feeling grateful for the cup of coffee you had that morning. Appreciating the small day-to-day occurrences helps to create a long-lasting slow living experience.

10. Make Sustainable Choices

Becoming conscious of how your choices impact people and the planet is a huge part of slow living. Practicing minimalism and getting rid of those old consumer habits is key. And it doesn’t have to be expensive or unattainable. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

  • Choose second hand

  • Buy local

  • Eat more plant-based foods

  • Reuse, repurpose, recycle, or compost

  • Buy from sustainable brands

11. Cultivate a Sleep Routine

Did you know a good night’s sleep improves your mood, brain performance, and general health? In fact, not getting enough sleep can lead to a myriad of problems from heart disease to dementia.

Cultivating a solid sleep routine will bring more connection, value, and balance to your life. For an adult, approximately 7 hours or more per night is deemed a healthy sleep pattern.

12. Explore Hobbies You Love

Find an activity that grounds you in the moment and makes you feel alive. Hiking does that for me. Being out in nature and exploring new places brings a whole new layer of meaning to my life.

Your hobby could be exercise related. It could be creative. Whatever it is, getting involved in something outside the confines of busy modern life can help establish a work-life balance. You’ll likely learn something along the way too!

13. Minimize Your To-Do List

Slow living isn’t about trying to cram in as many tasks as possible. Studies show quickly transitioning from one task to another can be detrimental to your productivity.

When it comes to slow living, less is more. Slower is better. Quality over quantity is the aim of the game. So when you’re planning your day, try to make your to-do list manageable. Focus on completing 1-2 tasks rather than rushing around trying to manage everything.

Capitalism wants everything done yesterday. But slow and steady really does win the race!

14. Make Time For Loved Ones

Because isn’t that what life is all about? Spending time with the people who matter. At the end of the day, it’s not the jobs we have or how much money we make that defines us. Or even what people remember. It’s meaningful experiences with our loved ones that make life worth living.

15. Find your favourite Self-Care Ritual

Who doesn’t love a good ritual? Carving out some time in the day to take care of yourself is important. You could try out a new skincare routine, daily stretches or make a nourishing meal. The little things you do for yourself throughout the day can make a big difference.

16. Read more

There's nothing quite like losing yourself in a good book. Reading is a great opportunity to give your mind a break from today's hyperactive digital world. Reading focuses your mind, encourages empathy and even reduces stress levels.

Try switching off your phone or TV and dedicating 10 minutes a day either in the morning or the evening to reading something new. You never know what you might learn along the way.

17. pay attention to detail

When was the last time you slowed down and really looked at the details of the world around you? We're always moving from one task to the next without really valuing the small moments in between. Next time you go for a walk, start to pay attention to the little things. What's the color of the sky? Can you hear the birds sing?

18. embrace the mundane

Let's face it. We're rarely bored nowadays. From infinite TV shows to ever-changing social media content, we have so much stimulation at our finger tips. But boredom is an essential part of the human experience. According to research, boredom is good for your brain health, improves social connections and stimulates creativity.

So, there you have it: your permission to do nothing. Enjoy!

A person practing slow living by sitting on a bed reading a book and drinking a smoothie

Your Helpful Slow Living Resources

Here are some resources I hope you will find helpful as you embark on your slow living journey!

Slow Living Podcasts

Slow Living Books

Meditation Apps

The art of Slow Living Video

Inspiring Slow Living Quotes

Here are some beautiful quotes for some slow living inspiration.

“In a world addicted to speed, slowness is a superpower.” — Carl Honoré

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” — Lily Tomlin

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius

“Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.” — Shakespeare

“When we are calm, unhurried, and free from stress and distractions the brain slips into a richer, more nuanced mode of thought. Some call this Slow Thinking, and the best minds have always understood its power.” — Carl Honoré

“Slow living is about intention, spending more time on things that are important and less on things that aren’t.” — Brooke McAlary

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We need, above all things, to slow down and get ourselves to amble through life instead of to rush through it.” — Alan Watts

“The world is run by worn-out people, and our soul is often lost beneath the piles of our everyday life.” — Emily P. Freeman

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

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” — Albert Einstein

“People are so busy chasing happiness- if they would slow down and turn around, they would give it a chance to catch up with them.” — Harold S. Kushner

“Being Slow means that you control the rhythms of your own life. You decide how fast you have to go in any context. If today I want to go fast, I go fast. If tomorrow I want to go slow, I go slow.” — Carlo Petrini

Slow Living: Final Thoughts

We live in a modern world where doing things faster is celebrated. Western culture is dominated by speed and impossible deadlines. It’s a constant race against the clock. But to what end? Burnout and overwhelm are endemic. Our day-to-day lives are lacking meaning and soul.

Embracing slow living is about reconnecting with our humanity. Cultivating a slow living mindset nourishes relationships, makes work more bearable and everything tastes better.

It’s time to slow down and start living our lives.

Will you give these slow living tips a try? Let me know in the comments section below!

Share this article with your friends who would benefit from slowing down.

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