Slow living

What is Slow Lifestyle?

It is the title of my new book, in which I look at the art of finding inner peace amidst the chaos of a busy everyday life. I have conducted research into the international Slow Movement and interviewed a number of experts on the need for community, contemplation, better sleep, relaxation and sustainability – improved quality of life and more quality time!

Based on this, Slow Lifestyle is a concept I have formulated in an attempt to verbalise and gather together some of the fragments of this I see around me: Trends that point towards the need for more peace, more nature and a new way of doing things.

The idea is that we should enjoy the hours and minutes rather than just count them and measure them in terms of efficiency and productivity. It is about devoting effort to living life at a human pace instead of doing everything as quickly as possible. Quality over quantity. A life where we are actually present. 

The book is a slow break with the tyranny of always being busy, and an invitation to slow down, relax your shoulders and take the time to get the best – not necessarily the most – out of life.

 

Why is this something we need to know about?
It is about equipping yourself (and your nervous system) to feel good in a fast-moving world. To do this, you need to find inner peace, take breaks and relax. As simple as it sounds in principle, it can be insanely difficult for many of us as our systems are on constant alert.

I think of it like driving a car. Some distances require first gear, others fifth. So it’s important to become good at changing gear to suit the driving conditions. There are times when it’s best to drive slowly, and there are times when you need to accelerate. A great many of us are used to driving with one foot constantly on the accelerator, and that’s when you can end up crashing.

I believe that the long-term solution to our quality of life is slow. As Svend Brinkmann says in my book, there really IS time pressure in our modern society. It’s not just an experience, but a reality. We don’t have time to just sit and daydream and enjoy the sight of the wind blowing in the treetops, but have to organise these things under headers such as meditation or mindfulness, as that legitimises it, he says.

I know people for whom it is quite normal to have the taste of blood in their mouths every day at work. They feel bad about not seeing their children and feel trapped in the rat race. We allow this pace to encroach on our leisure time, which we book up with jobs from our to-do list and activities, and we are probably all familiar with the experience of juggling insomnia with deadlines, meetings, packed lunches, exercise, parents’ meetings, holiday planning, hair appointments and Wednesday sex before we collapse in a heap on the sofa in the evening, curling up with our iPhone to upload another photo on Instagram of #theperfectlife.

The labour market is evolving at an ever increasing pace. The modern-day marathon-triathlon-running manager, who is in eternal pursuit of a good bottom line and efficiency, demands that her employees are robust and open to change. Some people find it super exciting, while for others, well, the stress statistics speak for themselves:

According to the Danish National Institute of Public Health, stress is a growing public health issue. Stress and depression are on course to become the main causes of illness in 2020. In Denmark, 35,000 people go on stress-related sick leave – every day! 12 percent suffer symptoms of severe stress almost every day. Half a million Danes have job burnout, and 30,000 cases of stress lead to hospitalisation.
Stress often leads to depression and anxiety.

And that’s exactly what happened to me, after tearing around to meet one deadline after another for way too long. That is one of my motives for writing this book – and the more research I have done, the more I can see the extent to which the modern-day lifestyle of the acceleration society has a detrimental effect on the mental and physical wellbeing of many people.

That said, it is clearly not the case for everyone, and if you thrive on a high pulse rate and sweat on your brow, and it works fine for you, then that’s great. In that case, you will probably find my book a waste of time.

 

Is this not just another life philosophy that will leave us feeling guilty for not being able to live up to it?

I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all answer keys, and you won’t find them in my book either. It is merely my exploration of the Slow Movement, and my personal (re)discovery of the slow life – with added expert knowledge, simple inspiration and more than 100 straightforward tips.

Slow Lifestyle is not dogmatic and didactic, but offers suggestions as to how and why we can benefit from training ourselves to relax, engaging in contemplation, sleeping better. For some people, Slow Lifestyle will be about having a garden and inviting others to share a meal. For others, it might be going to yoga once a week, buying a dumbphone or planting tomatoes in the greenhouse. While for yet others, it involves a digital detox, or environmental activism, getting involved in politics or simply looking the person you are talking to in the eye.

The beauty of it is that everyone is free to interpret it as they choose, and do it at their own pace. I’m not advocating abolishing the internet, busyness, packed lunches, nappy changes, girlfriend/boyfriend problems and all the other things that make up our lives. I’m not arguing for a return to landline phones, or quitting our jobs and moving out to the country.

What I want is for us to give ourselves permission to relax and get back to a calm state of mind. Slow Lifestyle is my invitation to inner peace and reflection, and it is about taking your time. Time for the important things in life. Whatever those might be for you...

 

Can you give us some tips for a slower lifestyle?

There is no fast track to inner peace. It’s a process that takes time. A slow fix, you could call it. Some of the things I do to practise it are:

Managing screen time
I’ve got into the habit of not checking my phone for e-mails and social media until I have eaten breakfast and kissed my family goodbye. I try (and rarely succeed) to manage my screen time, so I’m not online 24/7. I just don’t want to become totally addicted.

Slowing down and breathing

It is physically beneficial to down tempo by walking, talking and eating more slowly. This also paves the way for calmer breathing. A tip to calming your breathing – and thus your nervous system – is to close your right nostril and just breathe in and out of your left nostril for a few minutes.

Get outside
Research supports what our body already knows, i.e. that it is good for us to spend time in the great outdoors. In Japan, they practise Shinrin-yoko, meaning “forest bathing,” which involves going out into the forest and soaking in the forest atmosphere.

One thing at a time
If there’s one thing that has gone by the wayside in the acceleration society, it’s our propensity for contemplation. Multitasking is deeply inefficient, and our ability to hold our attention on one thing at a time has become severely impaired. This is something that you can retrain by meditating, reading a good book, going to a museum, listening to music or performing a task without doing all manner of other things at the same time.

 

 

”Langsom Livsstil – Kunsten at få ro på” (“Slow Lifestyle – The Art of Finding Inner Peace” ) offers you more than 100 tips. The book will be published on 10 November by Rosinante & Co, but at the time being only in Danish. 

Karen has given us 5 books, and if you want to be in the draw to win one of them, tell us how you fine peace in a busy lifestyle. We will draw on Friday 4th, and will send a Body Balm along for you to enjoy slowly.

 

 

 

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