After my recent experience with burnout, I was on a mission to recover my nervous system and find ways to slow things down in my life. In today’s post I’m covering 5 steps to slow & intentional living to help you reduce stress and live fully.

I’ve recently been on a mission to recover my nervous system and bring more balance into my life since dealing with burnout, and one of the ways I’ve been doing this has been by simply… slowing down.

Today I want to talk about a few lifestyle shifts that I’ve been implementing in my own life to help me live slower and more intentionally. And if you’ve been feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, or like you’ve needed a break too, this post is for you my friend.

Watch the video below or continue reading! I also created a free 15-page PDF guide to go along with the strategies I’ll be outlining. If you’d like a copy of the Guide to Slow & Intentional Living, you can download it here.

1. Living with Intention

“Slow living” is essentially the opposite of a fast-paced life, one that savours moments and finds happiness in the simple things. Intentional living more broad of a term that means living in alignment with your unique values or beliefs. Living with intention is one of the first things to consider when we’re in need of slowing down.

We so easily get caught up in the grind or the need for approval from others that we lose sight of what we want. Now’s your chance to reconnect with those things and to be specific about what exactly they are, whether or not you’re making space for them in your life, and considering ways that you can begin to if needed. What things truly light you up?

Examples:

  • Meaningful conversations with your partner
  • Quality time with friends or family
  • Spending time in nature
  • Eating well
  • Spirituality/prayer
  • Saving money
  • Living minimally

“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.” -Alice Walker

2. Doing Less

Rest and recovery between periods of work are not only a big part of a less stressful life, but essential for supporting our ability to function at our best. Constantly having things to “do” with no real space to breathe is what leads us to burnout.

Doing less is all about welcoming this slowness into your life and recognizing what is and isn’t worth your time. We can’t say no to everything, but we can still set boundaries for ourselves.

There are two main ways to do less, saying no and streamlining workload.

  • Saying no: not taking on extra projects, commitments or tasks that you don’t have to; passing up opportunities that don’t serve you or drain you
  • Streamline your workload: I highly recommend becoming familiar with the Eliminate, Automate, Delegate system.
    • Eliminating unnecessary tasks where possible;
    • If you can’t eliminate, you try automating tasks by utilizing apps/tools/services;
    • If you can’t eliminate or automate, you try delegating by asking for help.

I’m a big fan of this system whether you’re self-employed like myself, work a 9-5 job or are busy with home life. It helps us put things into perspective and recognize the many ways that we can take some of the load off our shoulders. If you’re overwhelmed, know that it’s perfectly okay to ask for help, or to speak to your partner or boss about ways to pass off responsibilities to others.

3. Silence / Stillness

We’ve become so accustomed to noise and activity that when stimulation, distraction or entertainment is taken away, stillness makes us uncomfortable. We often believe stillness has no value or means wasting our time as productivity and achievement are so heavily prized. But if we drop the idea that we need to fill every ounce of silence with some kind of familiar activity or distraction, we can begin to understand ourselves better and recognize what actually matters.

There are 2 main ways I encourage you to find more stillness in your life:

  1. Cut out distractions: e.g. social media, phone, TV, shopping, whatever you tend to gravitate towards.
  2. Meditation: Just sit in silence. It doesn’t have to be for long; even 3 minutes of simply being the observer of your mind without attaching judgment to your passing thoughts or emotions can be profound.

Whether via meditation or not, present moment awareness is a big part of slow living. Take a moment ever now and then to notice how your body feels and what’s around you by using your 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.

4. Take Your Time

Taking your time is the cornerstone to a slow lifestyle. It’s all about making the conscious decision to physically move your body at a slower pace and not rush through everything you’re doing. Rushing seems to be the standard in our modern lives, but unless you’re in an emergency, there’s really no need to rush.

Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished. -Lao Tzu

Try slowing down any activity of your choosing, and incorporating a bit of mindfulness into it through your senses as outlined in the previous point.

Examples:

  • drinking tea/coffee
  • eating breakfast slowly at your table
  • driving to work slower
  • slowing down when doing cleaning/washing dishes
  • cooking slower
  • speaking to others slower
  • walking slower/going for a leisurely walk

5. Gratitude

I’ve talked about gratitude before here and here and it is by far one of the most powerful forces out there, especially when it comes to helping us slow down.

When you’re grateful for what you have you’re much less inclined to want more. Having goals or striving for what we know we want is one of the best parts of life, but remember that more — whether that’s more belongings, more success, or more money — often comes with more responsibility, more costs, and sometimes more stress. Gratitude helps us be content with less, with what we already have, and slows down the cycle we find ourselves in of racing to achieve or obtain the next exciting thing.

If you want to learn some ways to practice gratitude, check out my blog post here.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you practice slow living? Have you been in need of some lifestyle shifts? Share below, and don’t forget to download the Guide to Slow & Intentional Living that goes along with today’s post 🙂