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5 Tips to Lead a Slower and More Intentional Lifestyle

So, you want to lead a slower and more intentional lifestyle. You want to feel more joy, be less busy, and take life at a better pace. It’s not easy, but I promise that your heart and soul will thank you for figuring it out. Nowadays, the world runs at an intense and unnecessary pace. Hustle culture and “the grind” seep into mainstream mentality, and intentional moments in life seem few and far between. It’s not as impossible as it may feel, albeit difficult to navigate. But what is slow living, and why is it so important? 

There are plenty of reasons why being intentional about your lifestyle might help you lead a slower life; it could be motivated by wanting more time with your loved ones, or yourself, or gaining a better understanding of your being. Your busy, unbalanced life can also easily take a toll on your physical and mental health, causing excessive stress, anxiety, stomach issues, lack of sleep, and so much more (Mayo Clinic, Stress Symptoms and the Effects on your Body and Behaviour). 

 So what happens when you lean into the practice of leading a slow and intentional lifestyle? Your life becomes yours to live again. Your day-to-day existence becomes intentional and present, and your health, peace, and joy will come along with it. When I finally took the time to sip my morning coffee slower, be more present with myself and others, and follow these 5 tips to lead a slower and more intentional lifestyle, I changed in a way that makes me proud. I’ve learned to live slowly, and I want you to give it a try.

#1 - Understand That Being Busy Is A Choice

For a long time, I made the choice to keep myself busy for fear of feeling “lazy”. How dare I rest when I have all of these goals, dreams, and aspirations? That feeling came back to bite me. At first, I thought the answer was to just do less, but it quickly became so much bigger than that. Slow living and having to reconcile with my busy life took a full-blown mindset shift. It's not just one choice, but instead, multiple choices, day in and day out, to choose a less busy lifestyle. The mindset shift comes first, and the rest will follow if you work at it. 

Here are some of my favourite ways to navigate busyness and resting with intention: 

  • Block time in your calendar to do nothing. If you’re a naturally busy bee like I was, you won’t find the time until you make the time. 
  • Get comfortable with being bored. Find joy in the small things and pleasure in the nothing.
  • Say no to things that don’t bring you joy. I find it helpful to ask myself “Do I really want this, or am I just saying yes out of loyalty or guilt?”. If my immediate response is that I don’t want to do it “but…”, I’ve learned to say no, and it has made space for me to slow down and enjoy the many “yeses” that bring me more of the life I want to live.

#2 - Do Your Best To Be Present, And Forgive Yourself If It Doesn’t Work Every Time

Being present isn’t just about focus or intention, it‘s about ensuring that you’re building the life that you want to live. You can give attention to the past and future, planning and reflecting as needed, but come back to where your feet are planted every chance you get. Life can sometimes make it hard to do this with bills, health, mistakes, and big decisions, but life isn’t all about the planning and the pain. 

Some of the tried-and-true moments of presence that have helped me live slower;

  • I don’t rush the mornings. I wake up early and gently, practice gratitude, drink my tea, and sit in silence. It sets me up for the day with the knowledge that I have given myself the time and space to just be.
  • Listen. Be attentive to those around you, especially with close relationships. We can’t always be as attentive as we want, so choose who is most important to you and start there.
  • Practice intentionally noticing and reflecting on your five senses. Typically used for panicked or anxious emotions, this is the practice of noting 5 things from each of the 5 senses in your surroundings. This can be grounding and give you moments of reflection and appreciation for where you are.

#3 - Take Care Of Yourself

Adopt the ability to read your body when it's asking to slow down. If you neglect to make the choices and mindset change to slow life down on your own terms, there’s a good chance that your body will do the work for you. We see this in stress-induced sickness often, necessitating excess care if not attended to. Take care of yourself in whatever way you know how. Here are some of the ones that work for me:

  • Adopt a slow information diet. Make sure that whatever you are taking in is intentional and that your bad news intake isn’t wearing you down.
  • Commit to putting your life before work. I know it will be harder to commit to than most of my go-to tricks, but it’s so important to remember when you’re on the spinning top of chasing achievement that your life is happening now. Focus on it.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Better yet, be preemptive about it so that you’re not chasing a remedy when it's too late. Things like Registered Massage Therapy can be great when the stress builds up and your body feels it, but it can also work as a preventative measure to keep your body at ease and aligned.

#4 - Spend Time Outside

This can be aligned with exercise, or “do nothing” time. Being outside is also one of the best places to try out the 5 senses practice. Fresh air, vitamin D, and different environments can impact your ability to bring intention into your life. This can also look like:

  • Daily walks (I’m looking at you, calendar keeper. Pencil it in.)
  • Balancing your tech usage. I’m not saying get rid of it, because we live in a world where that is nearly impossible, but make sure that you’re stepping away.
  • Explore. There’s more around you than you think, and it can be rejuvenating to explore new trails, parks, or cities.

#5 - Set Intentions

Learning how to live with intention starts by making sure that you know what your intentions are. Do these practices often, because they might change as you continue to focus on learning how to lead a slower-paced life. I like to practice in a few ways each day:

  • Gratitude or intentions journal. Some use an end-of-day jot notes on what you saw or experienced that brought you joy. I personally like starting my mornings by setting my intentions for the day, either by writing them down or focusing on them during meditation.
  • Go public - let your supportive loved ones know what you are up to, so that they can join or support you in your journey and respect your choices.
  • Come back to your initial intentions and reasons why you started this journey in the first place. If you’re losing sight of it, rewrite your journey or recentre your life.

Living an intentional lifestyle isn’t all about what it looks like for Instagram or whether or not you’re capable of meditating, it’s all about how you view your purpose and how you move through life at a sustainable pace. Slowing down a busy life is hard and can have some hiccups along the way, but once you’re in the groove of it, you’ll see exactly why it’s important to keep it up. 

Before I explored my slow-living lifestyle, I felt like I was accomplishing so much and conquering my day when I could check every item off my to-do list, until I burnt out. In mid-December of 2020, I was mentally and emotionally drained and it took nearly 8 months to recover. I lost passion for my creative work, I struggled every day, and I felt like I wasn’t showing up in the most important relationships in my life. I promised myself that I could never be pushed to that extreme, and I am thankful that I did. I’m not writing this blog to tell you that it's easy, or even promise that all of these practices will work for you just because they worked for me. But I hope, my friend, that you conclude reading this with a new inspiration for giving yourself more grace, and a few tools to start your journey to lead a slower and more intentional life. You’ve got this.