What Is Slow Living (& Is It the Antidote to Hustle Culture)?

slow living
Nataliia Nesterenko/getty images

We’re going to cut to the chase: We live in a fast-paced world. Between work, your family, your friends and all the millions of little things that come up throughout the day, life is pretty go, go, go, right? Right, and it can be overwhelming. That’s why many folks have been making the case for a switch to slow living, or a slower-paced lifestyle that places emphasis on stopping to smell the roses and reprioritizing what actually matters. Below, learn about the benefits to a slower lifestyle as well as how to actually slow down in a world that feels like it’s going 100 MPH.  

What Is Slow Living?

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but the basic concept of slow living is this: rather than succumbing to societal pressure to take part in a fast-paced way of life, you slow down and focus on appreciating the little things in your day you might otherwise overlook. That could mean incorporating mindfulness into your routine, making more time for hobbies you genuinely love doing or getting out into nature and away from your phone. Basically, doing stuff that makes you feel good. Slow living enthusiasts say that the benefits are nearly endless, and include feeling happier, less stressed and more at peace.

Before we jump into strategies for living a slower life, two quick notes: First, various cultures, notably Indigenous Americans, have practiced this kind of balance for centuries. This is not a TikTok trend (though the platform does have tons of videos on the benefits of/tips for a slower life). Second, slow living is a privilege. The ability to deprioritize something like work in favor of taking things slower is not an option for everyone. A single mom who works two jobs to make ends meet, for example, probably doesn’t have the time or resources to prepare a hearty, nourishing meal after a 12-hour shift and slowly enjoy it before taking a nice evening walk. Still, there are ways to modify some of the tips below to live a slower—if not entirely slow—life.  

OK, but How Do I Live a Slow Life?

From chewing your meals more thoughtfully to taking a hard look at how much time you spend staring at a screen every day, here are five things you can do to start living a slower life.

1. Ease into a Slower Lifestyle via Mindfulness

Alexis Novak, an L.A.-based yoga instructor, tells us that baby steps are the key to easing your way into incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Here’s how to do it: Find a quiet area where you can sit comfortably without interruption for five minutes. Set your timer and close your eyes. Don’t worry too much about the correct posture, and instead focus on being comfortable and relaxed. Now try a technique called a body scan. Basically, bring attention to individual parts of your body from head to toe with your breath, taking inventory of how you feel without any judgment. Notice how the parts of your body feel individually and in relation to each other. “Play with visuals of your breath, creating an image of soft white light or a fluffy substance that grows with an inhale and softly deflates on an exhale,” Novak says. If your mind wanders, just remember to bring your thoughts back to the breath. Repeat a couple of times this week and see if you can work your way up to ten minutes and then 15. See? Totally doable.

2. Become More Comfortable Saying ‘No’

Saying “no” is hard to do. In a perfect world we’d be able to lend a helping hand to anyone who asked, but in reality, work, family and other obligations mean that saying no is a necessary evil. According to a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research, saying no to everything from daily distractions to after-work plans can help you achieve goals faster and help you grant yourself the space and recovery time you need. Here are five strategies for saying no in order to free up your time for things that matter most.

3. Prioritize Sleep

You already know that getting enough shut-eye is linked to improved memory and better skin, but it can also have a serious effect on your happiness levels. In fact, according to psychologist Norbert Schwarz, “Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night.” That’s a good enough excuse for us to head to bed one hour earlier (although we wouldn’t necessarily say no to an extra 60 grand, either).

4. Take Your Time During Meals

Whether it’s a sad salad at our desk or a 20-minute air fryer recipe we scarf down before rushing the kids to gymnastics, we’re not always taking the time to really enjoy what we’re eating. It might sound strange, but mindful eating can actually make you feel happier, calmer and more confident, according to food and wellness guru Cassandra BodzakHere’s a more in-depth explanation of how to do it, but one easy way to start eating more mindfully is to focus on chewing your food. Chew it twice as long as you usually would, focusing on the act of chewing and enjoying the taste of your meal. This gives your mind a break from the day and is also the most calming, beneficial way for your body to refuel. “Your stomach doesn’t have teeth, so chewing your food well will improve digestion and keep you in the present moment with the delicious meal in front of you,” Bodzak says.

5. Cut Back on Your Screen Time

Over the past few years, we’ve been spending more time than ever in front of a screen. If you’ve been feeling fatigued, getting headaches or just noticing an overall decline in your mood, it’s time for a digital detox. Write down a list of things you enjoy doing that don’t involve a computer, TV or phone. You might be into cooking, going to the park with your dog, running in the woods and window-shopping. First, spend the weekend doing as many of these activities as possible (and as little time as you can looking at a screen). We’re willing to bet once you realize how unencumbered you feel, you’ll make no-phone time a more regular occurrence in your life.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...