We've spent quite a bit of time In Copenhagen in the past year. Recently we've been pondering over our love for this beautiful city, and what keeps drawing us to return so frequently. The coffee? The vegan cafés? The greenery? When we thought about our favourite memories, they all involved sitting around, enjoying a pleasureful, drawn out brunch, sipping on a coffee whilst strolling the streets, eating sourdough pizza with locals. It was something about the culture, the vibe. And then it came to us, albeit slowly - it was a slow life.
Slow living is defined as 'emphasising slower approaches to aspects of everyday life'. It's about spending a bit more time to connect more meaningfully to moments, taking time to appreciate those minutes or hours with ourselves, others, and the planet. Though being mindful is not necessarily about slowing down, slow living is intertwined with the principles of mindfulness. Instead of downing your morning coffee with your bag dangling off your wrist, your phone hooked between your ear and your shoulder whilst your tapping through the barriers and running for your train; it's about setting your alarm maybe just 10 minutes earlier, brewing your coffee and taking in the morning scene; at your window, on your bed, wherever you want, and savouring those few minutes, before your brain picks up speed and you start the day.
These moments are few and far between, especially if we're living in London. But when they arrive, they create feelings of deep relaxation, harmony, stillness and interconnectedness.
Our brains need time to process what's happening in our lives. Every second we're processing 400 billion bits of information, and when we're performing continuously on high alert, we're not giving our brains the chance to filter and make sense of everything that's happening around us. As our lives speed up with our access to technology and the continuous pace of modern living, not taking time to slow down and really connect with our community can result in depression, anxiety, loneliness and burn out.
Whilst the result of our fast-paced society is an increase in mental health conditions, we have also seen a rise in the 'slow life movement'. Those who have experienced the more extreme end of a busy lifestyle, are turning towards the movement as a way to counteract the fast-paced norm in society and offer others an opportunity to dip their toes into a slower stream.
Slow living includes slow food, which is where the origins of the movement arguably came from. Slow fermentation processes, like with our kimchi, sourdough bread, wine, cheese - the art of creating something with patience and care, and enjoying amongst loved ones at leisure. There are now slow food supper clubs and restaurants, and workshops, where you can learn the art of slow cooking and appreciate the rich results. These experiences are able to offer us the chance to enjoy the slow life on occasions where we feel we can spare the time if perhaps incorporating the movement into our everyday routines doesn't seem real yet.
If you've had a taste of the slow life - at a supper club, as you're walking through the park or enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon - and want more of it, Erin Loechner's book, Chasing Slow, documents her process of learning to slow down and live a steadily paced life. The book includes all the ups and downs that changing your lifestyle entails and like she discusses in her interview with Jess Lively, it's about finding a balance.
To support this approach, in his interview with Huffington Post, Charles Eisenstein states “Really what it is advocating is that when it is time to be slow, be slow. And when it is time to be fast, urgent, and forceful, do that, and learn to recognise the difference. I think that in our culture, we are habituated to always be doing things fast and efficiently and forcefully ... So we get into a pattern of urgent action, even when it’s not appropriate, even when we realise that the way we are doing things is actually making the problem worse.”
After suffering from post-natal depression in 2011, author, podcaster and blogger Brooke Macalry overhauled her life, by stripping back on the excess, simplifying her lifestyle and reconnecting with what was really important to her again. She now runs the successful Slow Your Home; a blog dedicated to helping others slow down and achieve a healthier balance in her life. She is also host of the incredibly successful The Slow Home Podcast and has a beautiful book, Destination Simple, which is all about how small rituals and changes can transform your life.
So whether it's about enjoying good food with friends, making a few small changes to your everyday routines or completely changing your life; there are steps, books, podcasts, websites, videos and countless tools out there to support you.
We just recommend you take your time with it.