When I was in my twenties, I was in constant hustle mode. In many ways, that pace served me: It helped me establish my career, grow my business as a writer, and helped me achieve other professional goals.
However, once I entered my third decade, my mind, body, and soul craved more ease and peace, which is why I resonated with the now-popular concept of slow living, the opposite of hustle culture. Ahead, I spoke to experts to help dissect the theory of slow living, its benefits, and easy ways to practice it.
Meet the Expert
What is Slow Living?
"Slow living is a conscious approach to life that involves living slower so you can appreciate each moment and prioritize what matters in life," says Dr. Jenelle Kim, DACM, L.A.c, the author of Myung Sung: The Korean Art of Living Meditation.
This way of living is, of course, far removed from what society has normalized. "We have been told to believe that we need to work hard to receive any reward," says Alyse Bacine, a spiritual mentor and breathwork practitioner. "Slow living invites us to step into a new way of thinking and allows us to receive and experience all life has to offer fully. It is based on choosing our happiness over anything else."
Although the concept of living more mindfully has recently reached mainstream popularity thanks to social media (particularly TikTok), Kim notes it has been an essential component of many cultures for centuries. She also says the pandemic contributed to its rising popularity because it forced many people to slow down and reevaluate their priorities, giving them a glimpse of the benefits of slower living. And, like what I experienced once I reached my thirties, Bacine says many people are burnt out and exhausted with the constant hustle and stress.
More happiness, peace, and joy are at the top of the slow living benefits list. Kim says that a critical component of slow living is removing stress from your life, which provides a range of mental and physical benefits, including better sleep, improved digestion, elevated mood, reduced muscle tension, less anxiety, and lower blood pressure. Slow living also benefits spiritual wellbeing. "Living simply and choosing to give each moment your full attention helps you connect with yourself and your purpose," she says. Bacine adds: "Once implemented, people tend to feel an overall sense of gratitude and appreciation for life."
How to Practice Slow Living
Incorporate More Mindful Moments
Living slowly doesn't mean you don't work or get things done. Instead, it means you don't rush through life and take the time to savor and appreciate each moment. For this reason, Kim recommends incorporating more mindful moments into daily routines like meditation and movement. "Taking time to focus your mind will help you live slower and not be distracted by the stresses of everyday life," she says. "Taking time to go for a walk or stretch throughout your day is one of the best ways to reset your mind and restore a calm, relaxed mindset."
Mindful consumption is another component of slow living, which applies to the food you eat. Instead of valuing fast and convenient foods, opt for whole, healthy, nourishing foods which are good for you and the environment. "Whether you like to grow food in your garden or shop at your local Farmer's market, eating natural organic foods grown close to home helps reduce your exposure to toxins and your environmental impact," Kim says.
The same goes for other purchases like clothing. "Buying a few high-quality, sustainable items (especially from thrift stores for clothes and furniture) rather than constantly replacing items of lower quality is encouraged by those who practice slow living," Kim says.
Take a Time Inventory
Another key element of living a slow lifestyle is prioritizing your happiness and wellbeing above everything else. The first step towards accomplishing this is taking inventory of how you spend your time and energy. To do this, Bacine recommends sitting down and writing the things you do daily. Then, ask yourself if those things contribute to your wellbeing. If they don't, explore how you can remove those activities and replace them with things that make you happy. For instance, you may realize that your job or relationship isn't serving you, or perhaps you notice that you're spending more time than you'd like on social media.
"The benefit of [taking inventory] is that at the end, you will become crystal clear on the parts of your life that are truly aligned with your wellbeing and the parts that are not," Bacine says. Once you're clear on what changes you need to make to live a more intentional life, Bacine adds that it can feel quite uncomfortable and scary. So, take your time with this process and focus on making one change at a time for the most meaningful impact.
The concept of slow living is exactly as it sounds. It’s all about taking a slower, more intentional approach to life and taking the time to savor each moment. The result? More peace, joy, ease, and overall wellbeing. If you implement the above three tips (incorporating more mindful moments, being kind to your body, and doing a time inventory), you’re already on your way to a slower life.