When it comes to improving well-being, productivity and overall happiness, if you want to do one thing today to make your life better, the most effective step you can take could actually be to start taking life more slowly.
Why are we all moving so fast? We have jam-packed schedules, we’re eating on the go, we’re checking our phones while we walk and the only thing that is making us put the brakes on is traffic.
The slow living revolution isn’t a new one, but it’s an idea that (no pun intended) is slowly gaining momentum. Slow living marries mindfulness, sustainability and well-being together to form a calming, deliberate and considered approach to life. It is the antidote to fast living – fast food, consumer culture and the pressure of work hard, play hard. At Irish Country Magazine, we devote a lot of our work and time to exploring mindfulness, provenance in the food and products we buy and emotional well-being, and slow living is an approach we want to delve into more. Here, we have listed some ways slow living can help you at home, at work and at the dinner table (because of course all our thinking revolves around food).
Slow down at home:
Avoid multi-tasking at home, whether that’s checking email while watching TV, or doing the laundry while chatting to your kids. Focus on whatever task you are doing. You will make less mistakes, be less forgetful, and will instantly feel less stressed. Think about every task you do. It may sound like you won’t have time to get everything done, but instead slow down and think about your to-do list, and whether each item is actually something you want or have to do. Set aside what can wait, and the things you only feel obliged to do, and focus on doing what you will enjoy and what will help improve your life. And often our homes can turn into places just to wash our clothes and sleep before racing out the door again. Take time to appreciate your home and make it a space that you love and want to spend time in. Your home can be your calm and zen escape from the outside world. It may seem counter-intuitive to slowing down, but taking time to plan ahead, set routines and establish rituals will help ensure that what needs to get done will get done, your priorities are met, you will face less surprises and encounter less moments of last-minute panic. Your home is the perfect starting point for slow living.
Slow down at meals:
The idea of slow food isn’t just about savouring every bite, though that is an important step. It’s about considering where your food comes from, putting thought into meal planning, and putting consideration into where the ingredients come from. It’s about taking the time to cook and enjoying the relaxing benefits of the process, rather than being distracted, rushed and feeling under pressure (and burning everything). Then rather than eating alone at your desk in front of your computer or on your couch in front of the tv, sit back, avoid distractions and appreciate your food. Try and have a conversation with your colleagues or family, and really unwind from work and the day’s pressures.
Slow down at work:
By no means are we advocating starting a go slow in the office, and if we have a deadline to meet, we will certainly be hustling to get the job done. But taking the principles of slow living and applying them practically to your work can help you be more connected to what you are doing, more creative, and less harried. It can be helpful to establish a morning and evening ritual to help you get started for the workday and switch off at the end of it. That could be as simple as writing your to-do list for the day, watering your desk plant and making a cup of tea or coffee with your colleague before you get sucked into the distractions and obligations of emails. In the evening, take time to tidy your desk, make a list of things that need to be looked at first thing in the morning, and take time to consider how the day went and reflect on your performance. Not only will taking this time help you feel more prepared and relaxed, setting aside time to consider how work is going will help you develop ideas, help with problem solving and also encourage you to appreciate a job well done. And when it comes to your commute, which for most of us is the most stressful part of the day, do what you can to eliminate the stress. We know it is hard, but giving yourself extra time so you can walk, not run, to the bus stop, will make all the difference to your mood and your day. And when it comes to the car, do what you can to create a relaxing atmosphere, with music and scent. And rather than feeling impatient at traffic lights, consciously try to relax, breathe deep and reflect. Because in most cases, there is no rush, and we are the ones putting pressure on ourselves.
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