Stressed out, overworked and overtired? Try slow living.

happy family

happy familyDo you often feel super stressed out but don’t know how to change it? We recently went to a GO Healthy supplements sponsored seminar and had the opportunity to hear broadcaster and author Wallace Chapman talk about the relatively new international concept of ‘slow living’ which he discusses in his new book Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. Slow living encourages us to do things that will take our life speed down several notches from the current million miles an hour that we tend to operate at.

Many Kiwis work more than 50 hours per week and are consistently hurrying, working to deadlines and trying to juggle all the different parts of our lives to fit into a tight schedule, which sounds all too familiar for too many of us. Then there is the increasing lack of meaningful social interaction we are experiencing thanks to social networking websites and other new forms of technology. Recent studies have shown that the loneliest people aren’t those in their 50’s or 60’s; it’s actually people in their 20’s because despite having hundreds of Facebook friends, most of them are rarely seen face-to-face.

Wallace says that “slow living takes time; it’s about a lifestyle change and adapting”, so don’t worry if you don’t get it all right to begin with. Here are Wallace’s top tips to help you embrace slow living and get started:

Eat at the dining table

At least a couple of times a week, turn the television off and sit down to have your meal at the dining table (like people used to do!). Doing this forces you to have an actual conversation with the people you live with, as opposed to eating dinner in front of the TV which can not only interfere with your social time, but can also cause mindless eating as you aren’t focusing on your food properly.

Have a technology-free day

With computers, tablets, cellphones and televisions constantly in our lives throughout the day, it can make it truly difficult to switch off. Even though technology is incredibly useful in our lives, it also interferes with relationships and it affects the way we interact and communicate with people. Allocate one day a week where all the technology gets turned off. For bonus points, go on a technology-free date with your partner (leave your cellphones at home…).

Be frugal

Aim to set aside money each week so that you can create some savings which will always leave you a ‘buffer’ of money should you need to use it for anything. Don’t buy things you don’t need. Purchase fewer cheaper, heavily mass-produced items, and spend more on high quality products and clothes that will last you a longer time. Support locally made/grown products whenever you can.

Write an actual letter once a fortnight

Yes, Wallace does mean create a handwritten letter and use the postal system. Can you remember the last time you received one? Letter writing appears to have become a lost artform and handwritten letters have incredible novelty factor now, which is a little bit sad. Receiving real mail intended for you (other than bills, bank statements, company newsletters and communication from your local real estate agent) can actually bring a lot of joy. Spread the love, people!

Live in the moment

This may sound incredibly cliched, but we often worry far too much about things in the future that are out of our control. Don’t stress about the report you have to finish at work on Monday if it’s the weekend, you’re supposed to be relaxing and can’t work on the report anyway. Women are especially guilty of doing this and it can create a lot of unnecessary stress. If you catch yourself doing it, don’t just sit there and stew over the impending stressful event; do something to help take your mind off it and think about something else. Read a book, go for a walk, bake something exciting, play with the dog or spend time with your children or partner for a while.

Have people around for an old-school afternoon tea

Rather than stressing yourself out by having people over to a complicated dinner (which can run late into the night, get quite expensive and leave you with a lot of cleaning up to do), host an afternoon tea instead with small savoury and sweet goods. For bonus points, if you have leftovers, take them around to a friend or neighbour’s house for a second afternoon tea or surprise treat. They will love you for it!

Try and quieten your mind

It can sometimes be difficult to turn off the little voices in your head once they’ve been going all day. Take at least five minutes out of your day to just sit still and ‘be’. If you have trouble with this, close your eyes, lie down, take big deep breaths and just focus on your breathing. Just like anything, learning to quieten your mind can take some practice, so be patient and it will eventually become second nature.

don't just do something sit thereTo read more about the slow living movement, check out Wallace Chapman’s book Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. Penguin Books (RRP $30.00):

Media personality Wallace Chapman contemplates the virtues of slowness as a realistic counter to our sometimes manic modern lives. Wallace Chapman is on a mission. A mission to chill us all out. He’s thought a lot about the syndrome of modern life and thinks he has a few answers. Ranging over subjects such as careers, technology, health, communication, food, and relationships, and employing a captivating mix of pop psychology, science, philosophy and humour, Chapman distils the many mixed messages we each receive on a daily basis into a self-help book that’s not actually a self-help book.
For anyone feeling the ravages of time-poorness, Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There is an amusing and insightful take on considering life as we live it. A better life won’t happen overnight and if it does, seek help. Because slow living takes time.

Image / Top – FreeDigitalPhotos.net – stockimages; Bottom – Supplied

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