Slow living for city dwellers

January 13, 2020
slow living for city dwellers

What is slow living?

I first found out about slow living on Instagram after seeing beautifully whimsical images of open fires, berry picking and crafting from natural sources.

There are different terminologies: slow food; slow fashion; slow travel and slow living. Terms that imply to me slow cooked stews and hand-knitted jumpers. Two things I love just in case it looks like I’m throwing shade…

Slow living looks like an attractive lifestyle: people are connecting with nature, making the most of natural materials and enjoying the simpler activities in life. 

But what do you do when your view from your bedroom window is overlooking the wheelie bins and the closest you get to nature is seeing an urban fox eating the dregs of a dumped takeaway? Your daily commute consists of wedging yourself underneath someone’s armpit so you don’t have to wait for the next train. And making sure your 3 year old gets to nursery on time takes skills professional hostage negotiators would be proud of.

Is slow living even possible for city dwellers?

Principles behind slow living

“We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life – not the things of life.”

Joshua Becker, the Minimalist.

My research showed me that there isn’t one clear definition of slow living. There’s not a rule book or a manual that can be applied. However, people tend to agree that it’s the exact opposite of fast: fast living, fast food, fast fashion.

There also seem to be some consistent principles based around:

  • Moving slowly and taking the time to notice the smaller things. 
  • Being mindful and consciously thinking about what you’re do and why.
  • In the moment. Being aware and giving something your full attention
  • Living sustainably and naturally (where possible)
  • Connecting with nature. 

Why slow living?

Towards the end of last year, I felt I was going through the motions to a degree and had lost connection to what I enjoy. Life was really hectic and it felt like I was working through a never-ending tick list. My priorities seemed wrong and I was struggling to get a work/life balance. 

I’d got into bad habits. I multi-task to cram more into a day. I write blogs on my commute, researching and editing them when the 4G symbol appears on my phone. I try to use my time wisely and get things done. However, this does come at the expense of focussing properly. I take on too much and don’t always have the headspace or time to really commit to them.

I’m in good company when it comes to feeling burnt out. Arianna Huffington (ex-Huffington Post) set up Thrive Global after collapsing with exhaustion. She wanted to promote the importance of sleep, rest and living more intentionally with a view of changing how we measure success.

The 90s and 00s were all about time and efficiency. However, we did get a break because there wasn’t the technology that we have now. These days we’re always on. I can shop, write emails and edit blogs on my journey into work. In my case, being able to maximise time means I very rarely give myself the chance to switch off.

I’ve decided to make more conscious decisions about how I’m living my life. I’m trying to slow down and be more forgiving of myself. I haven’t failed if I don’t develop an Instagram strategy or read 12 books in a year. After all, the only person I’m competing against is myself. 

How does slow living work for city dwellers?

In a city, it’s more important that we slow down. A faster pace of life demands more from us. We need to build in time to rest and re-energise.

Yes, we can’t go out foraging for berries on our lunch hour and I’m pretty sure an open fire in your local park would be breaking all sorts of council guidelines. Are there some simple things we could be doing to enjoy slower living?

Slow living ideas for city dwellers:

  • Think about why we’re doing a task – and what the benefits are. Does it really matter if we don’t do it?
  • Give ourselves permission to rest.
  • Be in the moment. Notice the tiny moments in life.
  • Take a break. Go for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Try to get out in nature where possible – even if it does mean leaving the city for a day.
  • Enjoy what you’re doing. Savour that coffee. Nourish yourself.

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