“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down,” Lily Tomlin

Overloaded schedules, never ending “to do” lists, and the constant ping of technology may leave you feeling overwhelmed and hectic. “How do I get my time back?” you may ask. “How do I feel like I am in control of my life?” The answer may be, “The Slow Living Movement.”

The philosophy of the Slow Living Movement emphasizes a lifestyle that can bring balance and joy back into your life. It is a lifestyle where you, “stop to smell the roses,” and deeply connect with every aspect of your life by reframing your priorities.

Contrary to popular belief, the Slow Living Movement is not about doing things slowly. Rather, according to Dr. CL Claridge, it is about finding the right speed that values quality over quantity,  long term benefits over short term gains, and the wellbeing of the many over the few. In this way, you can get in touch with what is deeply satisfying and truly fulfilling in your life.

The Slow Living Movement emerged out of the Slow Food Movement which started in 1986 in Italy as a reaction to fast food. Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food Movement, urged people to eat fresh, local, sustainable, and ethical foods. He emphasized the eating and preparing of this food with love and leisure, in the company of good friends and family. Others quickly realized that this approach of paying attention to your food and nurturing the process, could be applied to other aspects of life. Soon, the term "slow" became shorthand for a way of life that is now applied to many activities.

Ultimately, Slow Living is all about being aware of your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and situations. As  Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School says, this approach to life can be healing and restorative; it reminds you of, “...who you actually are so that you don’t wind up getting entrained into being a human doing rather than a human being.”

Here are some ways you can implement Slow Living practices into your life:

  • Use your five senses: Use all of your senses to savor, deepen and invigorate a moment.
  • Priorities: Shed commitments that feel like drudgery and do not give you joy or provide purpose. Instead, focus your time and attention on things that are in line with your life’s goals.
  • Reflect: Set aside time each day to think about your day and reflect on what you are grateful for.
  • Get creative: Use your free time for creative endeavors or fun hobbies.
  • Be present: If you find your mind wandering, bring it back to the present; focus on living “on purpose” and with attention.  

For more inspiration on the Slow Living Movement, check out Carl Honoré’s book In Praise of Slowness. He describes how “slow” has been adopted and adapted around the world and to various aspects of life.