The coronavirus crisis has created a new normal. For most of us in office jobs, business as usual now means working remotely, social distancing and self-isolation. These unprecedented times are hugely worrisome for those most at risk and for small business owners, sole traders and those operating in the most affected industries.
Our everyday routines, hobbies and social lives have been turned on their heads. Ordinary things we took for granted just weeks ago, such as going out for meals, working out at the gym or getting a haircut, now feel like luxuries we won’t experience for a long time.
It goes without saying that we will all need to work hard to take care of our mental health in the coming days. Here’s why the principles of slow living are more important than ever.
Why We Need Slow Living Right Now
Finding Focus and Creativity
While we’re walking, commuting, brushing our teeth, cooking and watching TV, we’re often actually multi-tasking. We’re sending rushed messages, emoji reactions and GIFs, scrolling through social media and scheduling meetings on the go. We’re frequently multi-screening and convincing ourselves that we’re actually being more productive.
The opposite is often the case. Now with social hobbies and meet-ups curtailed, our waking hours could soon be saturated even further by screen time. While some evenings we might look forward to a cosy night binging a new TV series, when this becomes your main form of entertainment every day, it’s not so comforting. What’s more, the constant deluge of news and reminders of our current situation across all social channels is challenging for our spirits.
Slow living encourages you to do fewer things at once, and to do those individual things better. It’s about exploring analogue activities that help you re-find your focus and creativity, while switching off from the day’s stresses and constant technological stimulation and distraction. The current situation we find ourselves in offers an opportunity to pick up an old hobby, such as painting or simply just reading. They are those things we normally say we don’t have time for but always feel better after. The hope is that after things return to some semblance of ‘normal’, we may have found a better balance with technology and know how to spend less time on our phones.
But remember, in the midst of a global pandemic, navigating this immense change is enough – try to avoid the productivity pressure during lockdown. Many of us might even be much busier than we were before, balancing childcare and extra responsibilities at work with the unknowns and anxieties of a crisis of this scale. If a new or old hobby brings you joy and calm during this time, embrace it, but don’t succumb to the pressure to take something up just to feel productive, or because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing on social media.
Maintaining a Good Work-Life Integration
We often discuss the impact of the glorification of busy and stress caused by work. In these difficult circumstances, there are many working at home with no clear boundaries between where professional lives end and personal lives begin. Slow living promotes a good work-life integration (work-life balance is a flawed concept) by encouraging us to practise self-care and other activities that actually make us more productive and happier in our professional roles.
This could mean taking up meditation at home, or going for a walk at the end of the day to replace your commute which keeps your body active. These activities will also help you stay connected to how you’re feeling in that moment – without boundaries and with fewer social interactions, burnout is a very real possibility.
If you’re working remotely, read our tips for working at home.
Finding Gratitude in the Small Things
A slow living mindset encourages slowing down to appreciate the smaller things in life that we often miss because we’re rushing. Or, it might be that we just don’t make time for them (because we feel that we’re too busy).
It’s more important than ever to make time to find gratitude in the everyday, whether that’s something as simple as noticing the signs of Spring, feeling warmth on a particularly sunny day, laughing on the phone with a friend or cooking a new meal from scratch. Green spaces will become a solace for many in the coming weeks – spending time in nature is proven to support our well-being. Recognising these small pleasures is important at at time when we face many disappointments, such as cancelled holidays, concerts, events and even exams that many have studied so hard for – when there’s little to look forward to, you will be forced to become more mindful of the here and now. Slow living is about adapting your mindset so that you can still find joy in unfamiliar circumstances.
Approaching social distancing with a slow living mindset can help you prioritise your self-care, become more mindful and rethink about how you use your time. The lessons learned and new habits formed may be something positive to take forward after these difficult times pass – and, stay hopeful, because they will pass.
More inspiration on living slower: