5 Simple steps for slow living and finding balance

Embracing time with me, myself and I


1. Slow down.

Forget unrealistic new-year targets. The start of a year always feels like a natural time to take stock and make plans – but be realistic. Yes, it’s brilliant to get organised (we’re aaaall for organisation over here) – but no one needs failed resolutions crashing down around slipper-ed feet right about now.

According to the Chinese philosopher Confucius, ‘Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.’ So, let’s just stop making it so complicated for ourselves. Just stop. And simplify.

Ease yourself into the year, be kind to yourself. Keep cosy, enjoy the slower-pace of life right now. See lockdown 3.0 as an opportunity, rather than a hinderance. Less plans and commitments = a reduction in distractions and less physical and mental clutter. Giving us all a bit more space to think about what really matters.

According to Sloww.co, a site dedicated to the art of living slower ‘slow living is not about living your life in slow motion. It’s about doing everything at the right speed and pacing instead of rushing. Slow living isn’t about losing time by going slowly; it’s about gaining time by doing the things that are most important to you;’ and taking time to figure out what those important things are – without a Ben Nevis/iron-man /dry-Jan challenge hanging round your neck like a big, fat, miserable albatross.

Pare back. Seek pleasure in simplicity, allow yourself to go forth calmly and make wise choices – with or without wine. No pressure.

2. Take responsibility and feel secure.

A study into the financial behaviours of UK adults released last November by the Money and Pension Service revealed that 29-million adults don’t feel comfortable talking about money, despite 48% admitting they regularly worried about finances.

The research, which surveyed over 5,200 people across the UK, suggests that money is a daily worry for nine million UK adults (16%), and nearly half the adult population (48%) say they have worried about money once a week or more, with 71% of young adults (18-24-year-olds) admitting they too were worried about money at the very least once a week. And of course, the pandemic has only increased the worry-factor.

These money worries are what wake us up at 3am, floundering over erratic mental arithmetic, like Beth Harmon in the Queens Gambit. Only way less accurate, or chic. Enough.

Whatever financial situation you’re in right now, working to get our finances in order, in the cold light of day is a sure way to feel and be more in control. It’s time to stop closing our eyes when we open that banking app. See what the brilliant Clare Seal of My Frugal Year has to say about getting your finances in shape.

We all know that putting things off won’t make them magically disappear. It’s time to sit down, write it down and get that sh*t together. WE GOT THIS. Also, check out Canopy, who have some insightful pearls and top tips on renting, saving and managing your personal finances.

3. Embrace alone time.

A society of multi-taskers, we have conditioned ourselves to be on-the-go, juggling home/work/friends/fam/social events – even when we might feel ‘dread-y’ or non-plussed about said commitment. We distract ourselves. A nation of fidgets seeking out our next hit of company/entertainment – we’re exhausted, frazzled, unsatisfied.

With an ever-expanding to-do list and a constant stream of expense, we distract ourselves from mundane life admin (see above point) – or simply, from just being still. We’ve acclimatised to being always-on. But busy doesn’t necessarily mean important.  Busy doesn’t necessarily mean good – and busy is a choice.

When busy got taken away from us in lockdown 1.0, we panicked. Frozen, stunned, miserable. How would we fill the hours? When did days get so long? Who am I?

Come lockdown 3.0, we know the drill. Forced again into submission – credit card collecting dust (phewf) we have a chance to embrace some alone time. Switch up the mindset, take this time to re-cooperate, allow yourself the time to be – and don’t guilt-trip yourself for it. A mini-break for your body and mind. We don’t have to learn to speak Japanese or to play a Bach Concerto – but the ability to feel safe and contented – all on our own, surely that’s the best lesson we can emerge with?

Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. Still doesn’t have to mean lazy. Take solace in yourself and those close to you. Need some tips to help you find some zen? Claudia Mirallegro shares her favourite mindful practices that actually work!

4. Look up.

No, seriously. Look up. Did you know that there are about 50,000 ring-necked parakeets living wild across the U.K – with the highest concentration in London? Followed pretty closely by Manchester? Fo-real. This beautiful little green bird can be spotted in most parks, we’ve recently spotted them in Victoria (Hackney) and Southwark Park (Bermondsey).

And have you seen the moon and stars lately?

It’s a fact that when we connect with nature and notice what’s going on around us we feel more in-tune, nourished, wholesome – well. And the best news? Spring is just around the corner which means soon you’ll spot green shoots and blossom and all the joys the season brings. Don’t knock it.

If you’re a London hipster you’ve probably already parenting a hoard of plants already – so you’ll know the joy that bringing nature inside can bring. If getting a little green fingered is on your to-do list, find your inspo with the Plants In Decor Instagram.

5. Remember what matters.

When life switches up and everything we are used to is taken away, we remember and realise what really matters. Like – really. Take the positives from this. Take stock. Be thankful.

That’s gratitude right there.