There’s a lot of talk about “seeking slow,” and “living slowly,” and “slowing down” these days. I’ve long been disillusioned with the breakneck pace of our world, so I am all for slow living. But what does that actually mean? Today I’m sharing seven practical ways to slow down, savor, and live with more intentionality. This post contains affiliate links.
7 Practical Ways to Slow Down
1. Go to sleep a little earlier, get up a little later
Often our last thought before bed is that we aren’t going to get enough sleep and our first thought waking up is that we didn’t get enough sleep! What a terrible way to bookend our days. Once of the simplest ways to make a day feel slower is to go to bed a little earlier and/or get up a little later.
I usually get in bed around 11:30pm and fall asleep around midnight or 12:30am. It’s amazing the difference it makes when I get into bed just a little earlier around 11pm! Same with waking up–adding an extra 20 or 30 minutes of sleep feels like such a nice, slow-paced luxury. If your life feels chaotic and fast-paced, try spending a bit more time sleeping–you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes! It always surprises me to see how a little extra shut-eye makes my days feel longer…and more productive as well.
In a world where everyone’s advice seems to be to wake up earlier…and earlier…and earlier, I’m here to tell you that perhaps the answer is actually sleeping a little later! Your day doesn’t have to start at 4:30am to be productive.
2. Cook meals from scratch
One of my most favorite ways to slow down is to cook from scratch. Made-from-scratch soup or homemade bread can’t be rushed; instead, each step must be completed intentionally before moving on with the recipe. The ritual of preparing a homemade meal is very cathartic and forces me to slow down and practice mindfulness.
On particularly chaotic days, I intentionally turn off all distractions–music, podcasts, audiobooks, YouTube videos, the TV–and just focus on cooking and the wonderful sounds that accompany it. The sound of bubbling soup or sautéing onions is soothing and helps me find breath during busy weeks.
If you’re not sure where to start, this is my favorite chicken noodle soup recipe (I leave out the flour at the end) and this is my favorite tomato soup recipe. Both are super simple and fun to make! I share lots more of my favorite recipes in the Cooking & Baking category of my blog and on Instagram.
3. Write with a pen and paper
I opened up a PO box about a year ago and have had the privilege of corresponding through letters with women all over the world! I make a ritual of brewing a cup of tea, sitting down at my kitchen table, and writing with a pen and paper, no technology or distractions. It’s amazing how just 30 minutes of letter writing once or twice a week makes time tick by more slowly.
If life feels frantic, try turning off the TV and writing a few letters! Alternatively, you could write in a journal, make lists, doodle, or color in a coloring book. Technology can be great, but it’s decidedly not slow-paced; try putting pen to paper instead.
4. Implement morning and evening rituals
I love traditions, rhythms, routines, and rituals. Personally, I’ve found that implementing morning and evening rituals help me to slow down and check into the moment, which is a nice way to start and end the day.
In the evening, I plug my phone into the charger in the kitchen. This is the first step of my evening routine and helps signal to my brain and body that it’s time to unwind. After my phone is charging, I pour a large glass of ice water to take my vitamins with and to drink before bed. Next, I head into our bedroom and turn on the humidifier and white noise machine. From there, I sometimes take a bath; if not, I start on my evening face washing routine. I then brush my teeth and use the restroom, take my vitamins, and get in bed.
My morning routine is similar, though in reverse order. Knowing that I have a solid 30 minutes to an hour before bed to unwind and another hour or so in the morning to wake up while I get ready helps to slow the day down. I don’t do anything incredibly special–I just do the same thing each night and morning. This way of starting and ending my day is infinitely more peaceful than scrolling through a cell phone immediately, falling asleep with makeup still on, or responding to texts and emails while in bed.
5. Turn off phone notifications
You do not need push notifications for every app on your phone! Turn ’em off! I only get notifications when an individual texts me (I mute all group texts), when I’m getting a phone call, or when a calendar event is coming up. Everything else is turned off–I don’t need notifications or red bubbles for email, Instagram, or any other app! I’ll check them when I check them. Additionally, I keep my phone on silent or low volume 95 percent of the time–I can’t stand the noise!
If life feels fast-paced and loud, turning off phone notifications is an easy way to bring some quiet into your life. Nothing is so important that it should steal your peace and make your days feel frazzled. Turn your notifications off!
6. Create slow-paced environments
Let me paint you a picture of two environments. In the first, overhead lights are on full brightness. Cell phones are buzzing and dinging with notifications. The TV is on with the volume up. The air is chilly and stale. Dirty dishes clutter the kitchen and clothes are strewn about in the bedroom. Closets, cabinets, and drawers are disorganized. Catch my drift?
In the second, the overhead lights are off and lamps glow around the house. A few candles are lit. Cell phones are on silent, the TV is off. A fire is lit in the fireplace. The kitchen is tidy and has been wiped down. Surfaces are cleared and clean. Clothes are folded neatly in their proper places, and closets, cabinets, and drawers are orderly.
Do you see the difference? Just reading about the first environment makes me feel tense and restless. It’s not calming or peaceful at all. In contrast, the second environment makes me feel like I can take a deep breath and relax. Environments matter. If you keep your home neat and tidy and take the time to make it feel cozy when you’re home, you won’t have to waste time searching for lost items or stressing over the dirty dishes. You can rest!
I never regret spending 15 minutes to tidy my home before bed and a few minutes making my bed in the morning. The time it takes to turn on lamps, light candles, start a fire, or diffuse essential oils is always time well spent to me. Take the time to create slow-paced environments; the world can continue to live with bright lights and high volumes, but you don’t have to live that way.
7. Savor small indulgences
This is my favorite tip because it’s the most fun to implement! It used to be that when I felt overwhelmed and chaotic, I would feel ashamed, add to my to-do list, get a giant coffee, and “power through.” It made me feel absolutely frazzled and exhausted and didn’t work at all. (The fastest way to make your days speed by is to never take a break.)
I’m learning to take better care of myself by savoring small indulgences throughout my day as a way to slow time down and breathe. For me, that often means a cup of tea while watching a short YouTube video, sitting on the back porch while Charley runs around the yard, taking a proper lunch break (instead of eating in front of the computer), taking a short walk around the neighborhood, diffusing essential oils I love, eating a piece of chocolate, or taking a long bath at night.
If you want to start slowing your days down, start by setting aside 10-15 minutes daily for a small indulgence. While you’re enjoying your indulgence, savor it. Practice living in the present moment. Don’t multitask. Just savor…you’ll be amazed at how much time slows down.
// What do you practically implement in your life to slow down?
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I looooove the one about turning off notifications on your phone! I just went through and did it and it was the most liberating feeling!
Really enjoyed this, Blair, thanks for the suggestions! I looove writing with a pen and paper. Doesn’t matter if it’s letters or journaling, just putting pen to paper to is relaxing and feels like a little small indulgence in itself to take the type to physically write vs typing.
I really like the idea of using the time your phone is charging as mandatory unplugged time to get something else accomplished. I’m going to start doing this especially as my phone battery continues to hold a charge for a shorter and shorter amount of time.
Anna Sakila says
Cook meals from scratch maybe is the best way for me. Thank you for your post.