How to practice slow living in a big city
Slow living and urban lifestyle are two things that can never seem to go together. Urban lifestyle is fast-paced, stressful, and disorienting. Slow living, on the other hand, is all about mindfulness, connecting with your surroundings, and being conscious of your actions.
It’s difficult to imagine how slow living can work in a big city, especially because of the imageries associated with slow living: long walks in the nature, a cozy area to read a book in the house, or cooking a fancy meal. Is there time and space in the city for such activities? What exactly is slow living anyway?
Where does the term Slow Living come from?
Slow living has its roots in Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of McDonald´s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna in Rome in 1986. A few years after the protest, the slow food movement was founded. This evolved into the slow movement, which now advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace through subcultures such as slow living, cittaslow (slow city), slow travel, and slow design.
But what is slow living in 2020?
The term slow movement is now used beyond just slow food and slow living. There’s a slow version for every activity you can think of, such as slow reading, slow education, slow exercise, and slow religion.
But people who are unaware of the meaning of “slow living” think that it is about doing everything as slowly as possible, or that it is anti-technology and focuses heavily on the aesthetic.
None of those are true. Slow living isn’t the perfectly staged images you see on Instagram. It exists in all forms and colors. It also isn’t about rejecting technological advancements. It’s about smartly using technology as a tool rather than being used by it. And it surely isn’t about living your life in slow motion. It’s about gaining time by doing things that are important to you, and as a result doing everything at the right speed.
The definition of slow living is a lot more malleable than we think. It is about adjusting the speed of your activity to the goal you want to accomplish, and pacing yourself when necessary. In fact, it’s not all about speed. It also means structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment.
How to Practice Slow Living in a Big City
If the information about slow living has intrigued you, you must now be wondering, “Is this lifestyle achievable when you live in a big city?”
The simple answer is, yes.
Slow living doesn’t have any prerequisites on where you live or your environment. You can lead a mindful life in New York and be stressed in the beach paradise of your dreams, and vice versa. It’s all about the mindset.
At Plázida, we embrace the urban lifestyle that comes with having Madrid as our home. The bustling energy of the city is part of our identity. But we believe in practicing slow living in our day to day lives, and we are dedicated in helping members slow down and find meaning in their work as well.
Our founder, Irene, shared how she lives a slow life.
“I try to have a slow breakfast by eating yogurt with fruits and drinking yogi tea. Sometimes I have bread with avocado and extra virgin olive oil. Everything organic. For me, slow living is being conscious of all the little details that make your life better. That includes taking the time to dedicate to every coworker that comes to Plázida. Speak with them, get to know them a little better, make time to introduce them to other people so they do not feel isolated. Again, being conscious of how people are acknowledged and making them feel good.“
Here are a couple tips for you to start your slow living in a big city.
Understand that being busy is a choice
Have you thought about how often you have used or heard the following words? “Running out of time”, “I need to go”, “pressed for time”, “hurry”, “late”.
Chances are, you hear them pretty often. It seems almost like a strange phenomena that everyone is affected by, but no one talks about. Why do we do this? Here are a few hypotheses.
Busyness has become a badge of honor or a status symbol in the modern society. It shows our importance and self-worth when we deem ourselves too “busy” for something. Busyness also results from the fear of missing out (FOMO), because of our need to experience everything and share the highlight reel of life on our social media feeds. It is a byproduct of the digital age, because our constant connectedness is promoting multitasking and encouraging us to stay “online”. Lastly, busyness is a way to escape the complexity of life.
The hypotheses above show that busyness is mostly a feeling, and that we have a choice on whether we want to feel it.
Define your priorities and say “no” to everything else
We discussed above that slow living is about structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment. Then it is no surprise that busyness results from misplacing your priorities.
Think about your life’s purpose and define your priorities around it. Then take a look at the things that don’t belong in your list of priorities. Start saying “no” to them so that you can eliminate “I’m too busy” from your vocabulary.
By saying “no” to nonessential things, you are structuring your life around things that give you more meaning and fulfillment.
Find your zen spots
A zen spot is a place where you can relax, recharge, and clear your mind. At times when the city life becomes too much, you can go to your zen spot to connect with yourself.
Your zen spot could be a comfy couch next to the window in your home, but it can be anywhere. In fact, big cities are full of hidden spots where you can escape the crowd and enjoy the moment. Try quieter parts of your local park, a library, gardens at the art gallery, or just a neighborhood cafe.
When you live in the city, you’re constantly surrounded by noise and people, whether you are alone in your apartment or out walking in the streets. Being plugged to your phone all day only distracts your mind further instead of helping you unwind during idle moments.
Try leaving your phone behind at work and taking your lunch to a nearby park, putting your phone away before bedtime, and setting rules for yourself on when you should unplug.
Get outside and be a tourist in your own city
It’s easy to spend long hours indoors when living in the city, which can leave us feeling lethargic. Put your phone behind and go outside. You will notice the beauty in seemingly mundane things, which can help you improve your mood and appreciate your surroundings.
If you don’t know where to begin, try being a tourist in your own city. When you’re a tourist, you don’t rush things. You enjoy even the mundane things like going to a supermarket and going for a walk. When you see everything with fresh eyes, it can give you a new perspective on things and also help you appreciate the place you live in a lot more.
Cook your own meal
When we become busy, we tend to skip proper meals and live on meals on the go. Not only are most pre-made meals less healthy than home made meals, it also takes away an opportunity for you to appreciate the food you eat.
Set aside time during the week to prepare a nice meal for you and your family or friends. Cooking can help you unwind, get create, and find fulfillment, all the while connecting you to the food that will nourish you.
How do you practice slow living? Do you live in a big city? Share your tips with us at @plazidaexperiences!