Spend Time Outdoors
One of the most crucial ways to embrace slow living, in my opinion, is to connect to nature and the seasons and the best way to do this is to step outside! Even the most urban areas have some nature spaces where you can breath and connect to the Earth again.
Pay close attention to the seasons and the flora and fauna around you whenever you step outside. If you struggle for time, consider swapping your school run or work commute for a walk to work/school instead! Discovering green spaces can be exhilerating and you'll be surprised what's around you that you never noticed before.
When you are outside, soak it in. Perhaps bring a sketchbook or notebook, or take photos on your phone of what you notice. Return to the same spot regularly over the year and see how it changes.
Have a Slow Morning Routine
How we begin the day can often affect our mood and the vibe of the entire rest of the day. When we rush around, frenzied and frantic to make it out the door in time for various commitments, we raise our cortisol levels and can put ourselves in a negative mindset.
Put the to-do list away. It doesn't need your immediate attention. Beginning the day slowly should be your priority. Take extra care to make your morning beverage just the way you like it. Wake a little earlier so you have time to craft a special, nutritious breakfast. Sip and eat and truly enjoy it, appreciate the taste and the opportunity to treat yourself to a special moment.
And don't panic about the to-dos, You may find that forcing yourself to savour and appreciate a slow, languid morning routine sets you up to approach the jobs of the day calmly and without stress, which in turn leads to more success in your endeavours.
Now, you may not have a green thumb. You may not even have a garden - I don't! But literally any space, whether its a yard or a balcony or a windowsill, can be used to create a micro-garden if you want to.
Gardening in itself is a task that forces us to slow down. You cannot rush the growth of a plant, and you must take care to observe the seasons and weather conditions to ensure success. Every little job in the garden, from watering to taking care of our gardening tools, is a tiny act of patience and perseverance. And it's a great way to spend time outdoors and amongst our own little nature oasis.
If you make any new years resolutions, be sure to have gardening in there!
One Step at a Time
When your mind is stuffed full of things to do, it can be tempting to try and do multiple tasks at once to get through them faster. This can lead to stress, and often it means our full care and attention is never placed into any one task and they aren't completed to their full potential.
Stop multitasking and slow it down. Pick one job, and put 100% of your effort and attention into that one job. Carry it out to its completion, and thouroughly. Once completed, take a moment to appreciate a job well done before moving on to the next task.
This extends to things like work and spending time with loved ones, Do you check your emails while you're playing with your kids? Put your phone away and give them all of your attention. Are notifications on your phone distracting you from the task you're trying to perform? Turn notifications off! Set yourself up for success as one-task-at-a-timing by removing the temptation to multitask.
Cooking and Baking
You don't have to be a great cook, or a master baker. But crafting a meal from scratch or baking a treat is another way we are forced to slow down and practise patience, plus it can result in a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self accomplishment.
Take time to collect and prepare your ingredients before you begin so that you don't have to rummage through cupboards and measure mid task. This ensures you can give each step of the process your full care as you go along, and set yourself up for success.
Cooking and baking with basic, storecupboard ingredients is especially a skill we should be nurturing now as the cost of living skyrockets. This is a survival skill, and also a way to always have a gift or treat to hand when an occasion arises! The gift of baked goods or a meal is always well received.
Go Screen Free
Even if its just for an evening. In our technology driven world, it's fairly unreasonable to expect anyone to avoid screens and technology forever. And navigating things like social media and the online world is becoming an essential life skill, especially in the work place. But it has become too easy to be sucked into our phones or the television and stop paying true attention to whats around us. And what's more, we're forgetting how to be bored. Boredom and stillness is essential to our development and creativity as humans.
So, to the best of your ability, try to pull away from the screens for just a while. Choose a length of time that will be challenging for you, but is reasonable for your lifestyle. Let yourself be bored, and fill the boredom with activities around you. Pull out a board game, bake a cake, phone a family member.
You'll find your relationships with those around you may improve as a result. And you'll also feel a lot more comfortable sitting in a state of boredom, and no longer feel the itch to fill every space of your day with screens or activity.
Stop Seeking Perfection
A perfect wardrobe, a perfect house, a perfect life - social media and magazines and TV have us lusting after an ideal of perfection we're unlikely to ever achieve. Houses aren't supposed to look like showhomes. They are functional, and serve a purpose. If your kitchen is covered in flour, your kids' playrooms are full of scattered toys - this is merely evidence of a home performing the function it should be!
Step away from the pursuit of perfection and think instead of pursuing practicality. Does your wardrobe have options for the weather? Does your kitchen have all it needs for your family? It may not be Insagramabble but if you can say with honesty that something is practical and serves a purpose, then it's perfect enough!
Follow your Passions
Choose 3 things you genuinely feel passionate about and what to carve time for this year. Perhaps you want to travel, read, blog, be with your children, go for walks, garden ... many of these we lose time for in the madness of everyday life.
They say the thing you're the most passionate about is the first thing you let go of when your mental health is suffering.
So identify those top three things that you realise you haven't been making time for, and make sure you prioritise those everyday. Even if you carve out a few minutes per passion each day, the habit of making them a priority instead of simply a passing desire will change your entire approach to how you spend your precious time,
Take Care of your Space
I mentioned before that your home does not need to be "perfect" in the sense of visually pleasing, or extra tidy. But it should serve a purpose - and one of these purposes should be that it brings you peace and relaxation. At least one room in your home should be dedicated to creating a calming area for you and your family.
For us, it's the living room. It's one room that I like to keep tidy and as uncluttered as possible. I avoid turning on the overhead light, in favour of lamps and candles to create a dim and calm atmosphere. I also love wax melts and scented candles here, as scents are a big relaxing element for me.
Take a little time at the end of the day to set your space up to be a haven. Dim the lights, clear the clutter and take a moment to create a vibe you want from the room. Be intentional about the items you keep here too - if you want to fill the room with "stuff", make sure every item is chosen with care for practicality or because it brings something to the space.
There are many things we do every single day which are part of a mundane routine, and passes by almost without notice. What if we took these normal daily routines and made them a careful, thoughtful ritual?
For example, many of us shower often. Rather than scrubbing and washing and diving out to get ready for the day, slow down - take a moment before you begin to choose a soap you love, to pick an outfit to lay out for after. When you're in the shower, really appreciate how the water feels on your skin, or how the soap smells when you use it.
When you cook a meal, take a moment to enjoy how it smells and looks.
When you choose an outfit, take a little longer to select something that makes you feel good rather than just throwing on the nearest thing. Pick a piece of jewellery to wear with it and really think about which piece you're choosing and why.
When you add mindfulness to a routine and turn them into a ritual, you appreciate every small sensation so much more. You'll find it a lot easier to find joy in the mundane if you can slow down enough to see the little moments of happiness we let pass us by every day.
If you want more ideas on slow living, it's something I plan to explore and practise over on my Instagram page! Follow me @willowrose.design