Slow Living series | New Year Intentions for Slow Living
I like to take the month of January as a time to press pause and reflect on how I want to live my life, thinking about the changes I can make to slow down, be more present, reduce waste and be more sustainable. I’m not one to make unattainable New Year’s resolutions, but I do like setting intentions for the year ahead, considering realistic changes to my daily routines. Here are five aspects of my life that I’m looking at myself, with suggestions for ways we can slow down our own home life, daily routines and habits.
Make time for the things you find important
As a founder and a mum, my own self care is often neglected in favour of spending time on my business and with my children. If this sounds like you, a great intention for the year is to make time for yourself and the things that are important to you; especially after Christmas if you’re feeling the urge to reset and start positive habits. This could be reading books curled up on your favourite armchair, walking your dog in the woods, wild swimming in icy pools, knitting hats and scarves to give as birthday presents, baking cakes, spending time in your garden – anything that you enjoy doing. Personally, I find it helps to create a routine to make time for myself. I’ve recently found a great yoga app that I’m dedicating 10-20 minutes a day to. Sometimes the kids are literally hanging off me, other times they will sit alongside me and copy the moves – occasionally, I can enjoy 20 minutes of yoga all to myself.
Slow down mealtimes
Rather than rushing through the same old recipes each week, try slowing down your mealtimes by trying out new cuisines and lingering over meals with your family, friends or household. Make the time to leaf through cookbooks, savour the process of cooking, and then relish the experience of eating with company. I buy my vegetables locally from Riverford, and look forward to receiving seasonal produce each week to try out new dishes with. I’d forgotten how great sweetcorn is in late summer, for example. To make a commitment to eating fresh, seasonal ingredients, you could also look into growing your own ingredients in a vegetable patch or on your window sill – even something as simple as growing your own potatoes in bags by the back door or keeping tomato plants on your window sill. I have a subscription to the Pot Gang for the kids, where you receive three veggies to grow each month together, which captures their interest and develops their understanding of seed to plate while also providing an activity to do together as a family. Remember the slow movement began with slow food.
There is nothing better for both our mental and physical health than spending time outdoors among nature. I try to make time each day to get outside, whether that means enjoying a long walk before work, pottering around in the garden in the evening or just going for a stroll around the block over lunch. Being outdoors helps to reduce your stress levels, boosts happiness and creativity and (providing you’re on the move) even improves your physical health. If you’re finding it hard to get the motivation to head outdoors on your own, find a friend to enjoy regular walks with or look into if there are any walking groups you can join in your local community – either for long weekend hikes or weeknight group strolls. My husband signed me up for a 10k this Easter, at first I was reluctant, especially learning to run in this frosty Winter weather, I’m starting small and its also wonderful to see the Winter season with those blue sky days.
Make time for tech-free zones or times at home, such as a ‘no phones in the bedroom’ rule or turning off technology for an hour before bed. Not only will this help you to slow down (and aid your sleep if you abide by the two aforementioned suggestions), but your connections with family and friends will strengthen as you focus on living in the present moment. I’m currently keeping my phone hidden in my bag from when I wake up until a couple of hours after I arrive at my studio, to help alleviate distractions and improve my productivity. Other ways could include switching off from social media at the weekends, reading instead of watching TV in the evenings or leaving your phone on plane mode when you’re trying to complete a task and don’t want distractions.
Commit to a slower wardrobe
If you’re hoping to curate a more sustainable wardrobe, start with what you already have. I like to take the time to regularly care for my clothes, going through my wardrobe seasonally to declutter but also brushing coats, polishing shoes, mending any pulls or tears, and depilling jumpers. This doesn’t feel like an arduous task, as I’m ensuring that I’ll be able to wear the garments that I love for years to come. When it comes to buying new, try to only buy new clothes when you really need them, investing in quality over quantity to ensure you are adding garments to your wardrobe that you’ll wear for years to come, such as high quality sweaters, cardigans and socks. Buy from slow, sustainable and ethical brands, and choose natural materials such as wool and cotton, avoiding synthetic fabrics such as polyester. And only buy clothes that you really love and will treasure, wearing them over and over again.
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