An Introduction to Slow Living

slow living

“Slow Living” has been a bit of a buzz phrase over the past few years, and it’s something that is really easy to ridicule. Most of us instagram and pinterest obsessed readers have been exposed to accounts and people that take the Kinfolk aesthetic too far, until the movement starts to sound like a Portlandia sketch. 

Which is an absolute shame because I’ve been a proponent of slow living before the phrase even came into my lexicon. 

So what does slow living mean to me? 

To me it means having time alone for self-care. Setting time aside with loved ones. Spending as much time in nature as possible. Going on long walks whenever there is an opportunity. Breathing fresh air. Trying to element stress and hurry out of my life. 

I welcome slow living in other aspects of my life. It’s no secret that I love food, and I hold the slow food movement quite dear to me. I love trying to eat locally, organically and seasonally. I love baking my own bread and learning traditional recipes to serve to loved ones. I dream of having my own vegetable patch or allotment one day. (I realise the irony of this – I kill most plants. But luckily I married a green-thumbed man.) 

It’s one of the reasons that I reduced my meat consumption to only a day or so a week and my dairy consumption to only little bits here and there, as they both have large environmental impacts. The originator of the slow food movement, Carlo Petrini, said in an interview once, “As long as quality is seen as a luxury, everything is a disaster. Quality should be a right for everyone. We should be producing less so there is less waste. We can’t go on with the same levels of meat consumption. I also believe in eating locally.”

It means admitting that I don’t want to lean in / be a girlboss / everyday hustle. I work hard and want to be successful, to be able to feel financially secure at all times, but to me success is coupled with having space from your work. Space to spend time with people I love, to reconnect with nature, and to enjoy hobbies and life, in general. 

Glorifying Busyness

I don’t like being busy. Space breeds creativity in my life. Society really glorifies busyness. But when I’m too busy, I start getting sensory overload and my anxiety kicks in. For example, Sam and I are both a bit overworked at the moment, when one of the other of us is frantically working as the clock chimes midnight. Coupled with lots of exciting family and friend hosting on the weekends, I’ve had little room to fully relax. 

After a particularly trying day last week, I had a panic attack in the aisles of Aldi. (Exacerbated by the fact that Aldi isn’t laid out in any logical fashion at all, so I couldn’t find any of the food on my extremely long list that I had to shop for quite quickly.) Luckily Sam was with me, so he was able to take over and I went and had a lie-down in the car. I was pale as a ghost – well, even more pale than usual – and shaking by the time Sam loaded the groceries in the car boot, but I had control over myself again. I’d pinpointed the culprit: overstimulation, busyness and lack of connection to things that I genuinely care about. You know, the actually enjoying living your life stuff. 

I don’t want to race  through my life and have my head constantly spinning. 

I want to have time with a cup of coffee outside in the sunshine with a good book. I want to have room for ritual in my life; be it daily meditation, time journaling or a bit of yoga. (Does that sound a bit too woo?) 
Let’s face it: faster isn’t always better. 

If you want to read other posts I’ve done about slow living or sustainability check them out below: 

Local Veg Boxes 
Blogging with intent 
Reducing meat consumption 

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  • Zara

    I love this post Amanda! I definitely notice a spike in my anxiety when I’m busy and rushing about and I definitely think I need to adopt a bit more of a slow living approach to things. Setting aside time for friends and family is just so important! x

    • I know it’s not a 100% easy solution. Some people HAVE to work two jobs, for example. But there are still ways to live a bit more slowly within that. It just gives your brain a bit of breathing room! x

  • Amen sister. I’m guilty of hating having an empty diary but then feeling stressed when it starts filling up and I think about all the other daily life admin things I have to do on top. I’m free as a bird this weekend so instead of hurriedly ringing around friends to make plans, I might just take a moment to chill out and read a book in the garden (if this rain ever buggers off anyway). Thanks for the inspiration x

    • Yes, Rosie! And good for you- it’s important to set some time aside so that you can relax and do whatever you want sometimes! (I know that guilty feeling really well though!) xx

  • Love this. I really think that nowadays simple things in life have become a privilege.

  • I’ve taken such a huge step back from things that aren’t “vital” to my happiness … part of that is producing blog content. I love doing it, but not at the price of my mental health. It was getting too much for me, so I stopped beating myself up for not writing posts over the weekend or not joining in for a particular link-up. As a result, I found myself finding my creative spark again, and wanting to engage more – because it was on my own terms and not anyone else’s. And I breathed easier.

    • Bravo Jaime! Exactly! I sometimes thing overworking yourself makes you less industrious/creative/forward thinking. There have been so many studies done that showed that if we all worked fewer hours during the work week we’d actually be more productive. xx

  • Loved reading this and can only agree!

    Arden | HELLO ARDEN

  • God I love this Amanda <3 I'm struggling a bit with this at the moment, because I know that for me to be able to live the slow life like I want to, I'm first going to have to be extra busy, to get things done in the evenings and weekends that will push my work-from-home dream forward. Knowing it's temporary helps, and I'm doing my best to spend time just reading or painting or something non-digital, but yeah. It's a hard balance!

    Hope you're feeling better about thing <3 xxx

    • It’s such a tricky balance!

      I totally feel you on wanting to reach all your goals but needing to balance the 9-5.

      I realised at my job in London, I never once EVER took my lunch break because I wanted to plow through as much as possible, to be as industrious as possible. (As you also saw when I’d get stressy calls at night, that work never ended! Yuck!)

      Now I try to always get out and eat my lunch and have a quick walk and even that subtle change made a huge difference to how stressed and put upon I feel/felt.

      I’m not feeling right as rain yet (but having a puppy is helping). And I’m not crying in an Aldi this week so that’s a plus! xxx

  • A big YES to slow living. I’ve changed my lifestyle quite a bit these last two years- to feel more connected to my loved ones, to block out the buzz and pressure of always needing to hustle, and to feel like me again because it all became too much. Being tired, overstimulated and stressed out are the magic ingredients for a panic attack for me- since taking it down to my pace (and a little professional help) it’s been a massive turn around. Panic attacks are the worst, I hope you’re feeling better. And also, HAROLD! eeek! x

    • Harold has been helping massively already. It’s only been 24 hours but he’s brought so much joy into our lives.

      Having a panic attack in Aldi last week wasn’t a high point in my life (though not the lowest either – so there’s that) but it did make me realise how overstimulated I was at the time! xx

  • Love this post Amanda! Last year I went into a bit of a black hole and the counsellor I saw was amazing because she introduced me to mindfulness and meditation. It’s massively changed the way I approach life. I’ve loved slowing down and really trying to savour the moments and day-to-day. I’m not good in whirlwinds, I’ve realised. Like you say, busyness is completely glorified. But I’ve realised I can still strive to do well without it! I hope you’re feeling better. xx

    • Thanks Vicky! Did you do a bit of CBT? (That’s where I was originally introduced to mindfullness). Just taking 10 minutes to give yourself time to check in on yourself in the morning can be really helpful.

      I’m definitely feeling better this week. Not 100% yet, but more on track. xx

  • I am totally with you on this Amanda. The minute I stopped wanting to prove how good I am at work, or how much longer I can work, or how many hours I can survive sans food to (again) work in the laboratory I felt so much better. If we only live once then we better make the most of it and be good to ourselves πŸ™‚

    xo, Anastasia

    • Yes! So much this! I mentioned to Kayla in the above comment that I was killing myself to strive at work for no reason – they would have been just as happy with my work even without the added pressure I was putting on myself. (I realised when I left my job in London, I never took my lunch break out of office really, and making sure I have that simple time to myself feels so so good) x

  • Slow living – to me – is the goal. I understand being busy and I am usually, since I work full-time and go to grad school. But having time to just be.. oh, the good life!

    • I totally feel you – I work full time and am also studying now. I think it’s more of a state of mind than an actual reduction in busyness. There are just a lot of modern distractions that we can limit from our lives to slow down whilst still doing everything that we need to do. (If that makes sense?)

      But it also reached a point at work when I realised that I was doing extra not for any reason (they already knew I was a hardworker there was no need for me to do even extra killing myself to prove it). I was doing it for pride alone. I realised at my job in London, I never once EVER took my lunch break because I wanted to plow through as much as possible, to be as industrious as possible.

      Now I try to always get out and eat my lunch and have a quick walk and even that subtle change made a huge difference to how stressed and put upon I felt.

      • I totally get you. I never skip lunch (unless I’m leaving early or something like that) – I always use that time to do something away from my desk. I don’t allow work emails on my phone, etc.
        This is definitely the lifestyle I try to live.

        • The advent of smartphones must have led to huge increases in burnout. Because we can access our emails at all times, it’s almost expected of us now! x

  • thegrownupgapyear.wordpress

    I identify with so much of this Amanda. I think that nowadays there is so much pressure on people to be busy *all of the time* that you almost feel guilty when you’re not. But the difference a quiet cup of tea or a quick walk makes is huge!

  • I can relate to a lot of the things you mention about what slow living means to you! I decided to take on a slow lived Summer this year and focus on taking the time out to do the things I love most and work on being more mindful to help with my anxiety. Lovely post πŸ™‚ x

    Kayleigh |

    • Do you feel like it’s effects have been beneficial on your mental well-being this summer? xx

  • Loved this post, Amanda! I have been trying to live more consciously for the past couple of years and my life has changed so much. More than anything, slow living for me means living in the moment – concentrating on what is happening right now instead of thinking about what I have to do in the next hour, month or year. I have been much less anxious ever since I adopted a ‘slower’ mindset!

    • It’s almost like it’s a muscle that needs exercising, isn’t it? Living in the moment and not stressing about the future can be really difficult but gradually it gets easier and easier! x

  • I completely agree! When I get too busy, my anxiety kicks in and I start getting panic attacks (especially at university). I’ve been focusing a lot lately on being in the moment, breathing, taking time to myself and taking long walks in the park when I can. Even little things like actually taking my lunch break at work help ground me and make me feel centered and more at peace.

    • Taking time at lunch for myself is one of my tricks now too. It”s such a simple thing but it can make a huge difference! x

  • Oh my goodness, I totally, 100% feel ya on this. When I’m busy I really can’t concentrate, my anxiety rears it’s ugly head and I just generally spiral. Space and slow living is essential to me & it’s nice to see someone else who appreciates the downtime too. I’m not alone!
    Bee xxx

    • Without downtime I’d be totally destroyed (like I was last week for a bit of it). It was to be on of the most natural urges in the world to unplug and calm down a bit! x

  • Cat

    “It means admitting that I don’t want to lean in / be a girlboss / everyday hustle. I work hard and want to be successful, to be able to feel financially secure at all times, but to me success is coupled with having space from your work. Space to spend time with people I love, to reconnect with nature, and to enjoy hobbies and life, in general.” This paragraph resonates so so much with me. I find it so hard to reconcile these thoughts with the career I’m in but I just think that life is so much more important! Bookmarking this post for when I need a reminder every so often πŸ™‚

    Cat x

    • Thank you so much Cat! I do definitely want to strive and be successful and passionate about my work. But things outside work are equally (or more at times) important to me. xx

  • Once again, another absolutely brilliant post, you are on a wonderful roll with the posts this week, I’m loving them! Alice xxx

  • Duuuuuuuuuuude. I’ve found that the “busier” I feel, the less I’m actually achieving.

    Like, If I’m stupidly busy it’s coz I’ve got too much on and I’m flitting from one thing to another trying to keep everyone happy, and the people who end up happy are never me.

    But if I’m focusing on one project and getting shit done, I’m actually working just the same amount of hours but because it’s focussed it’s more gratifying.

    Also, panic attacks are total fuck boys.

    • I’m exactly the same way.

      Focus is the key on it really. And panic attacks are the worst. Worst. x