Why it’s okay to do nothing: benefits of slow living

Being forced to spend more time at home may actually be an opportunity to find new levels of productivity. You may want to explore new hobbies or tackle your to-do lists; on the other hand . . .

woman relaxing on her couch

Many people think that, since we are now confined to our homes, we should be exercising non-stop, making our own bread from scratch, Marie Kondo-ing all of our closets . . . But the truth is, it can be exhausting to never stop to catch your breath. 

In fact, it’s good to do nothing once in a while. This article highlights some of the simple ways to live in the moment. So, put your feet up, get comfortable, and get ready to discover the art of doing nothing.

man reading a book on his couch

What is slow living? 

As the name suggests, "slow living" is all about slowing things down. With the advancement of new technologies, our world is moving at an ever-increasing pace.

When we do manage to take some time for ourselves, it often feels like we’ve been missing out on the things that really matter. Hence the emergence of various offshoots of the slow living movement, including slow tourism, slow food, slow beauty—even slow sex. Could it be that there’s a silver lining to having our lives turned upside down by this global pandemic?  Has the situation forced us to focus on what matters most?

Life in the slow lane

Some people may find it frustrating to be told to "slow down". If you’ve got work, kids, and tons of other responsibilities to consider, slowing down may seem impossible. We get it. But, if you're willing to hear us out on this one, you just may find some valuable takeaways.

giving yourself a break

The slow living philosophy gives you permission to take a breather. What would happen if you did nothing a little more often? If you focused on being mindful and listening to your body? You can only benefit from allowing yourself to slow down.

We’ve already explored this idea when it comes to exercise. Should we be exercising every day? Not necessarily—rest also does a lot of good for our bodies and overall health. Your body needs rest in order to recharge. If you’re doing exercise that burns a lot of energy and is physically demanding, such as running or lifting weights, it’s important to plan recovery time between workouts.

man doing breathing exercises on a yoga mat

Regaining perspective

Slow living is also about taking a step back from the images we’re bombarded with every day. We all know that social media doesn't represent real life. And yet, sometimes scrolling through pictures of impossible yoga poses, superfood-packed meals and impeccably organized bedrooms - all sandwiched between clips of DIY home décor tutorials (and let’s not even talk about squeezing in the occasional Montessori workshop for your kids!), can really do a number on your self-esteem.

If certain social media accounts leave you feeling depressed, do yourself a favour and click "unfollow". You don't need that additional pressure. At the same time, you can look for hashtags that promote positivity. If taking a step back doesn’t help, you might want to consider stepping away from social media entirely. Just keep in mind that it may be hard to adjust if you take a "cold turkey" approach.

Balancing training with "slow living"

Even if you’re a serious athlete or play sports competitively, you can still make time for slow living. The holidays are the perfect time to plan your upcoming season. Start by making a list of competitions taking place in the new year. See if any of them conflict with important personal events (your grandma’s 90th birthday, for example). Next, create a workout schedule. Remember to tailor it around competition weeks and to pencil in recovery time. It’s also a good idea to incorporate different types of workouts to keep your training well-rounded.

Now, schedule time for yourself just as carefully as you schedule your training. By making slow living part of your regimen, you won’t have to feel guilty about spending time doing nothing. How great is that?

woman breathing on a yoga mat with concentration

How to start living the slow life

Taking the time to live isn’t always easy, but it's the basic concept behind the slow living movement. You can also think of it as living in harmony with nature, choosing quality over quantity or appreciating fundamental values like generosity and friendship.

Admittedly, the slow living approach can seem a bit utopian. But the goal isn’t to achieve perfection! As with the "zero waste" movement, advocates believe that it’s far better to have thousands, even millions, of individuals striving to be better than to have only a handful of model citizens.

mom and a little girl are doing meditation looking at each other

More ways to adopt the principles of slow living

- Use your lunch breaks to get outside, take a relaxing stroll and enjoy some "me" time.

- Try meditation.

- Spend less time on social media and turn off email notifications when you need to concentrate.

- Be fully present when you play with your kids.

In short, as challenging as it may be, do what makes you feel good.

The moral of the story 
The world won’t fall to pieces if you decide to do nothing today. Start by focusing on yourself and your loved ones. If that brings you a sense of fulfillment, your time was well spent! 

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