In this era of increasing technological complexity, there is more conversation than ever about simplifying our lives. With trends like hygge and nap workouts, the mind-body connection is becoming a priority, especially for city-dwellers. Enter the term: slow living.
I first came across the idea of slow living when, a couple of years ago, the Italian government began offering properties for sale in small towns around the country for €1 per property. To apply, you had to commit to renovating the property and to helping develop the slow tourism industry in the area. Before you ask, yes, I did consider buying one — I’m an Italian citizen as well — but what struck me most was the phrase slow tourism. I found myself trying to understand what slow tourism, and more broadly, slow living, looked like.
According to slow living blog Sloww, the definition varies, but to me the best description comes from Wikipedia: “People every day are constantly living at a fast pace which is making them feel like their lives are chaotic — but with slow living they end up taking a step back and start enjoying life being conscious of sensory profusion.”
Slow living is about a shift in thought and action toward a more conscious, mindful existence. Savoring minutes rather than counting them so you can move onto the next task. Achieving a greater life balance, more sanity and ease, less stress and more purpose.
In a city like New York, choosing a slow lifestyle is something of a rebellious act. We’re breaking down a few ways you can slow down your NYC life.
1. Create space for yourself
This likely won’t come as a shock to anyone, but the first port of call for slow living comes in the form of downshifting. A bit minimalist, a bit KonMari method, downshifting simply means taking stock of what you share your home with and removing pieces that add to your clutter or no longer serve you. This is the first step toward creating a more peaceful space for yourself, which you absolutely deserve.
2. Grow something
You can always cheer up your space with fresh cut flowers, but have you ever nurtured your own plant? According to Tree Hugger, live plants improve the air quality of a home, help defend against illness and improve concentration as much as they bring joy. The Sill has a fantastic of selection for every level of green thumb (read more about choosing the right plant for your space here!) and they deliver directly to your home.
Consider setting up an at-home herb garden to truly enjoy the fruits of your labor. Put on your favorite music and spend an afternoon planting basil, thyme, rosemary, chilis and whatever else you enjoy, then take advantage of what you cultivate in a home-cooked meal. While you’re at it, grab a few friends and pick a class to learn a new cooking method at places like Eataly, The Brooklyn Kitchen, or Haven’s Kitchen in Chelsea.
Bonus: While we don’t expect you to grow your own almonds in your New York apartment, you can make your own almond milk in a jiff. All you need are almonds, filtered water and this recipe from Food52.
3. Build an at-home ritual
A lot of mindfulness practitioners speak to benefits of an at-home morning or evening ritual for calm and focus. This is a perfect low investment step toward a slower life. Places like Sky Ting Yoga have workshops channeled specifically to teach you new practices and studios like MNDFL offer meditation videos. But creating a ritual could simply mean waking up 15 minutes early to sit on your fire escape and listen to your favorite song a few times. Whatever brings you a sense of peace.
4. Take a walk
Save your wallet and the chaos that comes with train breakdowns and traffic by strolling to your destination. Yes, even if it involves crossing a bridge or walking for more than 15 minutes. Your lungs will thank you, you’ll likely gain more mental clarity and you’ll have gifted yourself a little ‘win’ for the day. Bonus points for using this you-time to wander without headphones on or through a new neighborhood.
5. Declutter digitally
The act of decluttering your digital presence might sound daunting, but it’s rewarding in the end. Having less junk email and unnecessary social media notifications will leave your mind more open to things and people that deserve your time and energy. Work channel by channel, asking yourself if the person or brand in question brings you closer to your best mentality or further away — then unsubscribe and unfollow.
The most important thing to remember if you’re curious about a slower lifestyle is that it shouldn’t feel like a chore. These activities should bring you closer to yourself and free your mind from burdens that may be weighing it down. Even if you only take one out of these five steps, your mind and body will be grateful.