Throughout my life, I've always preferred solitude and quietness. This is unsurprising given that I am an introvert and naturally gravitate towards the simple things that bring joy, such as a stroll in nature or a good book.
Recently, I discovered there was a lifestyle that aligned with this proclivity, and it's called the slow living movement. The recent (though not new) rise in interest of this movement has come from a shared desire to adopt a slower, more fulfilling pace of life that stands in stark contrast to the highly stimulating, information-driven world we live in today.
Despite its countercultural nature, slow living offers numerous health benefits. What exactly is slow living, though, and should you consider exploring it for yourself? In this article, we'll dive into the concept of slow living and discuss some of its key benefits, particularly in terms of health.
What is slow living?
Slow living is a deliberate lifestyle choice that allows you to live at your own pace while focusing on what matters most to you. It's not about literally slowing down your movements, but rather about rejecting society's emphasis on speed and instant gratification in areas such as food and fashion.
There are similarities between slow living and the concept of "hygge," which is about creating a cozy and comfortable life through activities such as reading, baking, hiking, and volunteering. The origins of these two lifestyles, however, are quite different. Hygge comes from Danish culture in the 16th century, while the slow living movement began in Italy in the 1980s as a response to the opening of a McDonald's in Rome.
Despite their different origins, many Instagrammers today use both of these concepts in their posts with hashtags. Whether the post is a cup of hot cocoa, a stack of books by a fireplace, or a new kitchen dining assembly, the concepts are now being grouped together on social media.
Ultimately, both slow living and hygge promote the idea that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to living a fulfilling life. The emphasis is on paying attention to what matters and enjoying the moment, rather than rushing to complete as many tasks as possible.
What are it's benefits?
By slowing down and focusing on the present moment, slow living can bring about a multitude of physical health benefits, including improved sleep quality. In addition, taking time to savor meals can lead to better digestion, while spending more time outdoors being active can improve your fitness and in turn, your overall health.
Slow living can also boost the immune system by reducing chronic stress, as well as reduce the risk of chronic diseases through healthier lifestyle habits such as whole foods, regular exercise, and stress reduction techniques. So, embracing slow living can be a positive step towards better physical health and well-being.
Some of the key mental health benefits of slow living include stress reduction and circadian rhythm regulation. Although the latter may seem like a physical health benefit, the regularity of circadian rhythms has been shown to have a significant impact on various mental illnesses.
Fortunately, healthy routines can regulate circadian rhythms. For example, a disorder known as Cyclothymia, a mild form of bipolar disorder, is characterized by sleep irregularities that can be improved with regular routines.
If you've ever underestimated the importance of routines, it's time to reconsider. The speed and content of your routines matter, but starting with simple practices like waking up and going to sleep at the same time everyday can make a big difference. Gradually incorporating additional healthy habits into your daily routine can also enhance your overall well-being.
Slowing down will help you become more in touch with the present moment, and that can be helpful if you follow a spiritual practice. Whatever belief system you ascribe to, if your calendar is filled only with the activities that mean the most to you, you will be in a better, more receptive place. This receptivity is helpful for study, meditation, and prayer.
Ultimately, slowing down and embracing a simpler, more intentional way of life can help you cultivate a deeper spiritual connection and lead a more fulfilling life overall.
Is it worth exploring?
Slow living may at first seem like purely a romantic concept that promises to pause time, evaporate your stresses, and bring ultimate fulfillment to your senses, but it has some concrete health benefits which make it worth pursuing.
By focusing on the present moment and embracing a slower pace of life, you can reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Taking time to savor and enjoy the simple things in life can also bring a greater sense of fulfillment. While it may take some effort to adjust to a slower pace of life, the benefits are worth it.
So if you're seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of life and want to explore a more serene, healthy existence, be sure to give slow living a chance.