If you’re curious about cultivating a lifestyle of slow living, there’s no better time than the present! While it may sound like a big change, it starts with baby steps and a slow adjustment to our habits. Here are three habits you can practice to build a life of slow, beautiful wellness.
Are you having a rough day today? Maybe the past week has tested you. Maybe lately, your life has been characterized by needs and demands that fly at you from every angle, demanding more than you can give and leaving you feeling completely out of control. I’ve been there too. Whether my kids have been hangry or I’ve needed to pay for an unexpected expense, I’ve had no choice but to react to each demand.
If you find yourself reacting constantly to needs and stimuli around you, you might be worn out and looking for rest. Maybe you’ve heard of “slow living” and are wondering how you might cultivate this kind of lifestyle. I hope this post helps encourage you to give it a try.
Why You Should Consider Slowing Down
Why should you consider slow living? Here’s an assortment of quotes, verses, and resources that encourage us to take breaks while also refuting the idea that nonstop work will get us to our destination faster.
“…one single short-term vacation, independent of the mode, has large, positive and immediate effects on perceived stress, recovery, strain, and well-being” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800229/)
“All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7-8)
“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)
This article does a nice job summarizing why taking a day off is recommended. >> Power, R. (2017). A Day of Rest: 12 Scientific Reasons It Works. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/rhett-power/a-day-of-rest-12-scientific-reasons-it-works.html
I think we all know deep down that having regular time off is healthy, if not necessary.
Slow Living Habit #1| Plan Ahead (& Avoid Reacting)
The more I contemplate wellness, the more I realize a lot of it is about being proactive versus reactive. True wellness demands that we plan ahead for our needs and stand firm in those plans. For example, if I plan to spend a few hours on Saturday meal prepping, I should stick to those plans. Even if something more exciting (or something with more immediate rewards) presents itself to me.
Likewise, if I plan to keep my home orderly with a cleaning schedule, I need to stick to that schedule instead of reacting to
the constant mountain of toys in my living room whatever is bothering me most at the moment. Or, if I’m trying to cultivate a healthier lifestyle, I can plan my workouts ahead of time. I can even use the scale as information on my progress. But, I should resist the urge to react to the number I see. That number on the scale should be neutral information to help me strategize and respond accordingly. Nothing more.
Whether we’re talking about our home or our health, this tendency to react can be experienced in so many contexts.
Hunger. I feel it all of a sudden and grab whatever is in sight.
Kids. Anyone who has raised children or worked in childcare knows the importance of structuring the day and going by that plan. If you don’t, you’ll lose control of the kids and will end up reacting to their actions and emotions, rather than leading them in a balanced way.
Work. If I procrastinate on a project, not only does it loom over me and ruin my personal time, but I end up reacting to the stress of it rather than planning ahead strategically and creatively.
Prayer. If I’m not regularly feeding myself on a diet of the Word and quiet time with God, I start to react and look for “tasks” I can complete to fill the God-shaped hole in me. Of course, they always fall short.
Each of these contexts demonstrates the importance of planning ahead and practicing discipline in our habits. If we don’t, we’re likely to fall into the trap of reacting.
And, if we’re being honest, doesn’t this characterize our society just a little? Between fast-food chains and Starbucks drive-thru to 2-day Prime delivery, we are a busy people. Too busy to think ahead. Maybe even too busy to think. Period.
Slow Living Habit #2| Prioritize (& Remove the Unnecessary)
Which brings me to my second point. The practice of slow living involves gradually rejecting the norms of rushing around, opting to say no to certain things in favor of others.
Lately, I’ve said no to birthday parties, playdates, and projects around the house to preserve some of that white space in my calendar (and in my mind). I’ve also said no to a few purchases I could have otherwise justified in order to preserve (or maybe create) some white space in our finances. I’ve said no to fast food and have found that, even though cooking takes more time, it brings its own form of rest.
Saying no might be hard at first, but it is essential to cultivating a slower pace in life. Part of the reason we’re running around frantically (and part of the reason we’ve even sought after a “slow living” movement) is because we have kept too many things in our lives. Unless we intentionally remove certain things from our lives or resist the urge to keep adding, we will never be able to slow down our pace.
Slow Living Habit #3 | Embrace the Rhythms of Work & Rest
The more I explore the lifestyle of slow living, the more I realize it requires us to alternate between our responsibilities (which, theoretically, are also priorities) and periods of rest. I consider that the Lord created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh, the Sabbath. I believe He enjoyed both parts of this rhythm and that we were created to be nourished and blessed by both work and rest.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
This Sabbath is something few of us actually practice, and I think we’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot by ignoring it. Can you imagine having a day each week where you were devoted to resetting yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually? A day devoted to reconnecting with your most precious relationships, including the one with your Creator? Perhaps also the one with yourself?
Whether your own Sabbath would fall on a Sunday, a Tuesday, or even every day between 6-7am, I fully understand that the idea of taking time off might cause a little panic. I struggle with it, too. For me, weekends are for getting stuff done around the house! But by offering up this day to God, we show we trust Him with our time and our to-do lists. We show we trust that He knows what is best for us. We also show trust that He will fill in the gaps, wherever they might appear.
I believe you’ll find that in these moments of rest and reflection, creativity abounds. Imagine if we could approach each week aglow with fresh ideas and renewed energy. How much more intentional would our work be? How much more meaningful would our relationships be? How much more purposeful would our lives be if we actually carved out time to reflect on them and make adjustments rather than robotically going through the motions?
I hope you are as inspired as I am to start applying some of these disciplines to your life this week. I’d love to hear your thoughts on and experience with the slow living lifestyle in the comments below!