Today I’m welcoming the lovely Eleanor from Creative Countryside to talk about simple living. If you haven’t been over to her site, you need to have a visit!
You’ve probably heard of simple living, of conscious living and of mindful living, but what remains less well known is the concept of slow living. Shifting the focus from quantity and speed to quality of life remains at its core, and its effects have been transformative for me. Not only will slow living help you to reconnect with what’s really important, it will also save you money, because frugality is a key component of following this lifestyle.
I want to get one thing straight before going any further, though: slow living doesn’t literally mean doing everything at a slower speed. Don’t get me wrong, this might apply for some activities, but on the whole slow living is more concerned with prioritising your time in order to appreciate simple pleasures (watching the sunset, delighting in freshly picked fruit and celebrating with family just to name a few!).
It’s a process of reconnection: with the world around you, with the seasons, but most of all with the things you love to do, that somehow get so easily lost in the chaos of modern life. Slow living embraces a simple lifestyle full of home-cooked meals, traditional celebrations and rituals and time spent wisely. There will never be enough hours in the day, but we can shape and mould the time we have according to our wishes and desires, and once we can do that, we’re able to live more slowly, mindfully and with care.
So how can you embrace slow living and all it entails? Well firstly I want to say upfront that my own experience with lifestyle change has taught me that nothing happens overnight. It has taken me nearly 5 years to get to the place I’m at now, and while I wouldn’t change a thing, I am by nature an impatient person and it wasn’t easy.
When I left university I was working in a local retail store as a Christmas sales assistant. I rarely explored the outdoors, and felt stuck living in a busy town with no creative outlet. It was pretty miserable, and I was stressed and tired a lot of the time. It was around then that I met my husband-to-be, and we clicked straight away. Refreshingly, he didn’t care what others thought of his slightly unconventional outlook on life, and it was liberating. I felt free to really look at my life and admit that, while appealing to many, it wasn’t what I wanted. He didn’t care that this made me very different to a lot of other people we knew, and gradually we realised that we both desired something other.
I quit my job and started working in education. A year or so later I retrained completely and in that time we moved to a cottage in the countryside. Slowly we realised that our priorities had changed and rather than spending money on shopping trips each weekend, we’d go for long walks, or visit our local National Trust properties. We stopped buying gadgets and spending money on technology and a fast lifestyle, and started saving money without ever really intending to.
So how do you start living more slowly? Here are 5 tips for embracing this new lifestyle that you can implement right now:
- Tonight, decide to cook a meal from scratch. Try to buy local and seasonal ingredients (both much cheaper than shipped-in produce) and take your time to enjoy the cooking process. Just before eating pause for a minute and be gracious for the simple pleasure of a delicious dinner.
- If you’re feeling a little disconnected with nature and the world around you, take a few moments to get grounded by standing outside barefoot. Scrunch your toes and feel the blades of grass tickling the underside of your feet. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or cold – stand for however long feels natural and take a few deep breaths, embracing the weather that surrounds you.
- Bring nature into your home by picking a few stems from the garden, or to keep it simple bring in some greenery to display on your mantelpiece. For just a few minutes of activity you’ll have a week or so of pleasure.
- Pick out a seasonal celebration that’s on the horizon and make plans to celebrate. In the UK Lammas – signifying the first day of harvest – is on the horizon (1st August) so we’ll be making corn dollies and baking Lammas bread. Invite friends and family and plan to cook up a feast to celebrate.
- Tomorrow, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual, grab your camera or notebook and get outside. It doesn’t matter if you’re still in your pyjamas, bleary eyed and a little off balance – the whole point is to rebalance your awareness as the day begins. Depending on where you live you’ll be privy to the sunrise if you’re up early enough, and observing this primitive ritual is a stark reminder of a greater existence.
While these tips can really make a difference right now, changing your lifestyle to live more slowly does – rather aptly – take time. Often we become so used to hurtling through our to-do lists at speed that we don’t realise that there could be any other way, and that life doesn’t have to be quite so chaotic. Changing that mind-set is a process that has to be worked through like any other, but I can guarantee you it’s worth it.
If you like the sound of slow living, my new email course – 40 Days of Slow Living – is perfect for you, as it guides you through simple steps to slow things down. You’ll learn:
- How to make time for the things you love, even if you have no time to spare
- The secret to turning your ideal day into a reality, even if you’re not sure what it looks like yet.
- The seasonal rituals you can celebrate over the next few months including creative projects to try.
- How to slow down your approach to food and technology in order to save time and money.
You’ll receive tons of resources and templates to help you design a lifestyle you love – just click here to find out more and start embracing positive change!