Note: This article on living slowly is by contributing writer, Tammy Strobel.
When I was in my twenties, I couldn’t stop talking about my busy schedule. At the time, I drove an hour to work, worked for 8-10 hours, and then drove back home during rush hour. I ended my day at the gym or the mall. In essence, my schedule didn’t leave me feeling rested or happy. Making the decision to simplify my life helped me reject busyness and embrace a slower pace. Changing my habits took time, and the willingness to set boundaries at home and at work. I’ll turn 45-years-old soon and I can’t imagine returning to my old habits. Now I think living slowly is just the right speed. And, I’m not alone.
According to Alyson Krueger, a reporter with the New York Times, Generation Z workers are rejecting hustle culture. Instead, they are seeking jobs that offer four-day weeks and excellent benefits. After the pandemic, companies realized that “younger employees wanted a healthy work-life balance. In fact, studies like one recently conducted by ADP Research Institute show that many employees would quit if an employer demanded a full-time return to the office.”
I found these trends fascinating and inspiring. I enjoy my work because it gives me a sense of purpose and meaning. But my job isn’t everything, and it can’t be. “Work won’t love you back,” says author and journalist Sarah Jaffe. My loved ones will love me back, though. Living slowly and working less has given me the time and space to do good work, and focus on my relationships.
In this article, I’ll share ten ideas that have helped me embrace a slower way of living. If you feel like your life is too busy and you’d like to give living slowly a chance, choose a few of the tips below and incorporate them into your daily life.
10 Ways To Embrace Living Slowly
1.) Scroll less, read more
Have you ever lost hours of time scrolling on your phone? If yes, I empathize and relate. Quitting social media and limiting how much I use technology has helped me slow down at work and at home. I focus on activities that bring me joy like reading. For instance, my new mantra is – scroll less and read more books.
2.) Simplify your schedule
My husband, Logan, is a professor at a local university with a full schedule during the school year. To avoid becoming overly busy, he incorporates tricks – like blocking off his calendar – to protect his time. For example, students can’t make appointments with him after 5pm. Also, his colleagues remind him to not work after hours. As Logan said, “The meta message I hear is: we care about you and we hope you are well.”
3.) Spend time outside
I love being car-free because it helps me slow down. For example, I recently cycled to the DMV to update my drivers license on a gorgeous summer afternoon. On my way home, I saw a cyclist with a dog in his bike basket; the dog was wearing a tiny black helmet. If I’d been driving a car, I wouldn’t have seen the dog or waved at his human.
4.) Notice daily delights
Living slowly helps me notice daily delights and enjoy simple pleasures. When I rush from place to place, I’m less likely to notice these moments. I’ve made it a habit to journal about delights daily, and this leaves me with a profound sense of gratitude for my life. Some recent delights I’ve experienced include savoring a cappuccino with oat milk at my favorite cafe, finishing a novel, watching hummingbirds outside my window, hugging my husband in the morning, and more.
5.) Try a slow hobby
Starting a new hobby as an adult is a great opportunity to practice slowing down. Knitting, painting, drawing, or playing a musical instrument are excellent ways to unplug from technology, and to slow down.
6.) Disconnect from consumerism
Disconnecting from consumerism helped me save money and it’s given me an unexpected gift – the wealth of time. In my twenties, I spent countless hours at the mall looking for the “perfect outfit.” But another outfit won’t bring me joy. Things that bring me joy include spending time with loved ones, creative hobbies, cycling, and more.
7.) Say no
As a recovering people pleaser, saying no can be challenging. Saying no helps me stay focused on my priorities like doing good work and taking care of health. Plus, I can’t do everything well. Saying no is a gift to myself, and others. Living slowly requires more intentionality around how we spend our time.
8.) Practice self-care
During my twenties, I equated self-care with expensive massages. It took me years to realize that my favorite types of self-care don’t cost money. They also help me slow down, too. For example, I love taking meandering walks with friends, going to the library to browse the shelves, taking naps, and getting a good night of sleep.
9.) Do one task at a time
When I was younger, I thought I could “multitask.” However, I’ve learned that multitasking isn’t possible. Instead, I was switching tasks quickly. That wasn’t effective because I lost focus, and it took me longer to get work done. Today, I do one task at a time. As a bonus, I’m more productive. For example, I’m able to write my articles a little quicker and have fun, too!
10.) Unwind before bed
Matthew Walker’s book – Why We Sleep – inspired me to change my bedtime rituals. Now, I set my alarm for 8pm; otherwise I stay up too late reading. Then I put my phone in the living room, do a short meditation, and go to sleep. My new routine helps me unwind and sleep soundly. As a result, I feel more energized during the day.
Books to help you slow down
Living slowly is a lifelong learning process. I continue to find solace and support by reading blogs and books. If you’re looking for extra motivation, explore these books:
- Rest Is Resistance by Tricia Hersey
- Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Tawwab
- Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen
- Work Won’t Love You Back by Sarah L. Jaffe