I talk a lot about Slow Living now I live in the suburbs and I have an abundance of space, beautiful countryside on my doorstep and enough silence to clear my mind. But what if you live in a city?
Prior to my countryside living, I have lived for most of my life in big cities like Athens and London, and it can be challenging to find space to quiet your mind and live more slowly. I know how it feels fighting the tourist crowds, while you just want to go to work, to be crammed like ‘a sardine in a tin’ on the tube, while you trying to hold your balance and you are praying that there is not going to be yet one more signal failure on the line. I know how it is to have stressful relentless deadlines and your task list never freaking ends!
So let me get things straight:
Slow living is not about picking up lavender in fields and making berry pies from your own foraging. Guys, let me break the news for you. This is the Instagram life which is not real for most of us. In fact, I bet it’s not real for any of us! These over–styled photos make us feel like we need a lifestyle that we can’t actually achieve, and have a negative effect.
But do not despair, slow living for busy people does exist and it’s all about a more mindful, practical approach to life than you think is possible.
Walk more – less tube/train/car journeys
I know it’s easy to say, and I used to do it all the time, but the last couple of years I spent in London I used to walk everywhere. Allow yourself more time and get out of this sardine tin as soon as you can and just walk! It will help to clear your mind, get your step count up and you lessen the chances of getting caught in this dreadful signal failure. That can only be a good thing. Just plan ahead your traveling time!
You deserve a full hour lunch break!
Take your full lunch hour, I promise you the world won’t end! The deadlines will be there tomorrow and the day after and the day after that! For a full hour, immerse yourself in the music you love, to a podcast you enjoy or in this book you always wanted to read but never had the time. You have a full hour of your day so do something to clear your head of work and deadlines. You won’t believe how rested you’ll come back for the rest of your day.
Switch of from digital an hour a day and 2 hours before you go to bed
Your lunch break is a great opportunity to do this. Maybe leave your phone at work for your lunch hour, or on the commute back from work just turn it off and read a book. Digital detox has such great benefits. We are constantly being bombarded with information so our poor brains don’t get a break at all! Over consuming information can leave us stressed and anxious without even realising it. Make this decision now and switch your phone off!
Start to say NO!
While I was working in London new things were happening all the time and I was constantly booking myself into events, friends meetups and so on. There was this constant fear of missing out and the pressure that I had to go and visit every single new thing that was happening in the city. From museums to the newest cool Vegetarian restaurant, and I’m not even a veggie! Learn to say no, take some weekends to do nothing. We are rushing around like headless chickens during the weeks, do we have to do this also on our weekends or most of our evenings to be able to ‘catch up’ with everything and everyone? Learn to say no, find the beauty of just pottering around or learn a new hobby that fills your soul with joy. Create something with your hands, maybe make this berry pie even if your berries are bought from Tesco’s! Schedule a weekend a month of doing absolutely nothing.
Stop wearing ‘busy’ like a badge of honor
Ok, here are some truths that might be hard to swallow. If you are constantly being busy and overworked, it means you are a bad planner. You are either delusional of your capabilities and how much you can achieve in a day or your timekeeping is very poor. There, I said it!
I was one of them and I am certainly still delusional, more often than not, as to how many tasks I can cross of my list. But I’m getting better.
I take a day a month just for planning, planning is something that we often don’t pay enough attention to and it plays such a crucial part in our busy lives. Planning isn’t only writing down a ‘To Do List’, but it’s also about creating achievable time frames.
Plan ahead some weekends away from the big city or explore what green options you have in your own city.
I remember the first time I visited Holland Park and the Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens while I was living in London. I just couldn’t believe the tranquillity I found right in the centre of the city. Go and look for your green spots, there are so many beautiful parks. Being close to nature has great restorative effects and your body and mind will thank you for this. Use this time for healing after a hectic week at work, you need this time to recover. If you have a family, involve everyone in this or if you can, carve some time out just for yourself. Remember what I mentioned about planning? This needs to apply on your social and personal life too.
Slow living is about changing some long term habits for the best and it’s all achievable stuff. Stop dreaming about how your life would be if you could live it like your favourite Instagram feed, and start taking some practical decisions for your life as is now!
Live in the now and find your comfort within.
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