A Year of Living Slower, May: Slow Travel

Slow Travel in Toulouse

As the blossom trees fade and wisteria and lush green leaves take centre stage, nature tells us that we’ve reached May. A handful of sunnier days promise that winter will soon be a distant memory and it’s time to start planning our summer escapes. In this atmosphere of excitement for the thought of swapping multiple layers for sandals and alfresco evenings, we’re a third of the way through A Year of Living Slower, our year-long challenge in living better, not faster. In May, we focus on slow travel, a key part of the slow living movement.

To refresh your memory, we started the year focusing on getting a good night’s sleep – crucial for living and working to the best of our ability. In February, we aimed to put the self-care back into Sundays, reminding ourselves that there is value when we slow down and do less. March explored slow food, the origins of the slow movement. And finally, in April, we shared why the power of getting back to nature shouldn’t be underestimated and where to escape into green space in London.

Gaining More from Travel

A break from the grind, our trips promise new experiences and time to recharge. However, a YouGov survey revealed that 60% of British holidaymakers check their work emails when away, despite 80% saying that they’d rather switch off completely. Our always-on digital culture makes it more difficult to escape from work, while paradoxically we feel we must cram every sight and attraction into our precious and limited annual leave.

May’s theme of slow travel shares inspiration and ideas around how to better connect with the places you visit and return home feeling rested, rather than exhausted.

If you’re making summer travel plans, whether that’s at home or further afield, this month will be packed with useful tips. Share your experiences using #AYearOfLivingSlower on Instagram and let’s celebrate our fifth month of living better, not faster.

A Year of Living Slower, April: Slow Living & Getting Outdoors

Slow living and getting outdoors

We’re a quarter of the way through A Year of Living Slower, a challenge in living better, not faster. Throughout the year-long challenge, we explore twelve themes, inspired by the slow living movement.

We kicked off the year exploring the basics; the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Next, in February, we focused on putting the self-care back into Sundays. During March, we explored the roots of the slow food movement, from motivations for cooking from scratch to seasonal eating and London’s zero waste shops. It took the slow living movement one step further, not just focusing on ingredients and culinary heritage but also on food packaging and taking time to enjoy the food on our plates.

The Power of Getting Outdoors

With the first signs of Spring arriving, we turn our attention to April’s theme; slow living and getting outdoors.

This month seemed to be particularly tailored to city-dwellers, but in reality, it seems that getting more fresh air could be something we should all consider. It’s reported that UK adults spend 90% of their time indoors and 36% of parents don’t think their children spend enough time outdoors.

With this in mind, April’s challenge is about slowing down to reconnect with the reassuring pace and pattern of nature; a constant in our ever-changing world. We explore how getting outdoors can affect our happiness and mood and share some of London’s finest green spaces.

How are you finding the challenge so far? Use the hashtag #AYearOfLivingSlower on Instagram to share your experiences.

A Year of Living Slower, March: Slow Food

Scandi inspired dining room decor

Welcome to the third month of A Year of Living Slower, a year-long challenge in living better, not faster. Each month, the experiment focuses on a different theme, encouraging us to make small, positive lifestyle changes, inspired by the slow living movement.

In January, the challenge explored the theme of sleep – something integral to our well-being. And in February, we focused on slow Sundays. We shared inspiration around where to enjoy a quieter Sunday in London and also asked four simple, slow and eco-conscious bloggers for their ideas.

The first two months of A Year of Living Slower have concentrated on self-care and slow living on an individual level. As we head towards spring, we take a more macro approach and turn our attention to the very heart of the slow living movement: slow food.

Embracing Slow Food

In March, we seek to understand the roots of the slow food movement, initiated by Carlo Petrini in Rome. We delve deeper into this topic and understand slow food from different angles, from supporting local producers and sustainability to finding joy in the process of cooking from scratch and being more present when eating.

This month’s challenge aims to help us consider our food choices, especially in a city setting. And on a personal level, it encourages us to slow down and enjoy our food, rather than eating on the go, or while scrolling on our smartphones.

Join in the conversation and share your photos using #AYearOfLivingSlower on Instagram.

A Year of Living Slower, February: Slow Sundays

Swedish bun and coffee flatlay

If you’re new to the challenge, A Year of Living Slower is a gradual, year-long experiment in living better, not faster. It’s a reaction to today’s accelerated pace of life that aims to help us slow down and make small, achievable lifestyle changes and tweaks with the aim of improving overall well-being and happiness.

U.S. News reported that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. Why? We often go in so big and radical with our resolutions that they’re difficult to uphold. That’s why A Year of Living Slower is different – there are no rules, just inspiration and ideas to try new ways of living better. Stick to the changes that work for you (repetition is crucial for habit building – UCL research has shown it takes 66 days on average to create a new habit) and tweak or ditch those that don’t.

Each month of the challenge focuses on a different theme inspired by slow living. In January, a month that we often build up in our minds as a month of change, A Year of Living Slower concentrated on sleep.

As we welcome February, the perceived societal pressure of throwing yourself full-throttle at a new calendar with the ‘New Year, New Me’ ethos is, thankfully, starting to fade. That said, well-being isn’t just for January and impossible New Year’s resolutions. In February, we focus on self-care and make an homage to the traditional ‘day of rest’.

Striving for Slow Sundays

February’s challenge is about re-assigning importance to Sunday as a day of rest, or self-care. It’s about slowing down, ditching the to-do list and giving yourself a chance to recharge and embrace JOMO. We are constantly hurrying from obligation to obligation, and this doesn’t stop at the weekends. Sometimes, it’s okay to turn down invites, or accept that this is not the weekend to start painting the garden shed.

Throughout February we’ll share ideas around how to embrace self-care on Sundays and enjoyable ways to spend a relaxing Sunday in London. Because a slow Sunday doesn’t have to mean doing absolutely nothing! Slowing down is about living consciously and switching off your auto-pilot, not moving at the speed of a sloth. Though, sometimes, that’s fine too.

Get involved with February’s Slow Sundays challenge on Instagram using #AYearOfLivingSlower.

A Year of Living Slower, January: Slow Living & Sleep

Bedside table with terrazzo lamp, candle, eye mask and book

A Year of Living Slower is an experiment inspired by creating small, specific lifestyle changes and tweaks to try and improve overall well being and happiness, rather than striving for unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. During the year, we’re sharing 12 monthly themes inspired by slow living. Each discusses ideas around living better and more mindfully in the city and beyond. The first month, January, focuses on sleep, something that often loses out in our busy lives.

The Importance of Repaying Your Sleep Debt

We all know that a bad night’s sleep leaves us feeling irritable and looking tired. But, what about the effects of sustained poor sleep? Many consider sleep to be a period where our minds effectively switch off, but that’s not the case. Sleep is an active state where important processes take place, such as memory consolidation. A University of Chicago study found that student volunteers who were asked to sleep for only four hours a night for six days developed higher blood pressure and levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. They also produced 50% fewer antibodies to the flu vaccine, compared to normal. This study goes some way to explain why we get ill more easily when we’re stressed and not getting enough sleep in the short term, and why chronic poor sleep is linked to a higher risk of diabetes, strokes and heart disease in the long term.

Making Sleep Sacred Again

Deep down, we probably know these things too. Yet, we still sacrifice sleep and accept bad moods to meet deadlines, or just binge watch our favourite series. Most of us are probably racking up a hefty sleep debt, a cumulative sleep deficit that takes time to repay.

Is there a magic formula for sleep? Some of the world’s most successful people are early risers, but only around a fifth of us find it easy to get up early. And some, including many influential entrepreneurs and statespeople, can get by on as little as four hours sleep a night. This shows us that the recipe for a good night’s sleep is different for everyone, although, eight hours is often regarded as average.

With most habits, it’s sensible to make gradual changes if you want them to stick. The National Sleep Foundation suggest following the Rule of 15 to become a morning person. Adjust your bedtime or wake-up time by 15 minutes a day, rather than setting your alarm for 6am and expecting to skip merrily to the gym. But, adjusting sleep times is just the beginning. January’s A Year of Living Slower challenge explores the following ideas around sleep optimisation, in turn helping us to recharge and feel better prepared to achieve our other goals:

  • Create consistent wake and sleep times
  • Design a mindful, slow living-inspired bedtime or wind-down ritual
  • Focus on less scrolling and more reading
  • Spring clean your sleep space

Although often outspoken, one particular quote by American businessman T. Boone Pickens is worth noting in this context: Work eight hours and sleep eight hours and make sure that they are not the same hours.”ย While work-life balance can be considered a myth and always achieving a perfect night’s sleep challenging, refraining from letting work hours engulf sleep hours is a good place to start. Are you ready to start A Year of Living Slower?