A few years ago my life was a constant rush, from the minute I woke up until the second I collapsed into bed late at night. I was running an online craft shop, a job I always thought would be my dream, yet I felt completely exhausted stressed and unfulfilled. I was doing so much, but none of it felt right. It was only when I finally allowed myself to slow down and begin taking care of me, that I was able to create a more meaningful life. By embracing a few simple ‘slow living’ principles I turned my life from hectic, stressful and unfulfilled to calm, organised and happy.
Steps to Living a Slower Paced, More Meaningful Life
When I was suffering from stress, anxiety and migraines, I was easily overwhelmed. The tiniest problem would send me over the edge and see me snap at my husband or kids. I had no ‘buffer’, or room to take on any more. Therefore my desire was to create ‘space’ and my natural instinct was to start by decluttering my physical surroundings. My goal was to simplify my home and all the procedures within it. So over a few weeks, I followed the KonMari Method almost to the tee. I donated, recycled or threw away bags and bags of clothes, toys, books and random stuff. I got rid of almost everything I didn’t need, or that didn’t ‘spark joy’ as recommended in Kon Mari. Cupboards, drawers and shelves were cleared and I got rid of unnecessary nicknacks. And then every single item we kept was given its own place to be stored.
If a cluttered home, or a feeling of owning too much stuff, is causing you stress, anxiety or overwhelm then follow these tips to start decluttering:
- Start small If the thought of cleaning out your entire home is overwhelming then just tackle one small space. A drawer, shelf or even just a handbag. When that’s complete, move on to the next small space.
- Say thank you Parting ways with sentimental items such as kids toys, gifts or clothing can be difficult. To help you let go, Marie Kondo suggests thanking the item for the joy it gave you when you first received it and then acknowledging that you no longer need it.
- Give every item a home When you finish decluttering a space, shelf, or ‘category’ of items, give each of the items you’re keeping a proper home. This will make it easier to stay tidy and organised.
Benefits of Decluttering
- Breathing space
2. Define your values
When I was running my online craft business, my job took up every waking hour. If I wasn’t manufacturing products, I was packing orders, responding to emails, designing, or marketing my products on social media. It was a highly competitive industry and I feared that if I switched off for even a moment another brand would sweep in and pick up all my customers. So even when I was spending time with my family, I wasn’t really present. I would often have my head buried in my laptop, or I would be thinking about the next task I had to do.
It wasn’t until I finally closed the business and created some space to really consider what mattered most to me, that I realised the path I was on didn’t line up with my values at all. I was living mindlessly, missing out on precious moments with my kids, all the while becoming more stressed, anxious and unwell. When I began exploring my core values, like health, family happiness and achievement, the changes I needed to make in my life became clearer. I gained clarity and direction, and I was able to begin living each day intentionally.
Benefits of knowing your values
- Ability to make better decisions
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness means deliberately paying attention to the present moment, without judgement. It’s simple, but not always easy to achieve as our minds are easily distracted. No sooner than you notice a beautiful bloom in the garden your mind has moved on to thinking about the report you have to finish or what you’re going to cook for dinner. To practice mindfulness would be to bring your attention back to the present moment, really noticing that beautiful yellow flower, the warmth of the sun, the gentle breeze tickling your cheek and the hum of a lawnmower nearby.
When life is hectic and busy, practising mindfulness is one of the best ways to slow down the pace. When you use your senses to bring your awareness into the present moment, feelings of stress and anxiety melt away.
To begin practising mindfulness, choose an activity that you do daily such as washing dishes, hanging out laundry or walking to the bus stop. Now every time you perform this activity, you’re going to do it mindfully. So for example, when you wash the dishes, really notice the feeling of your hands in the hot water, holding the slippery dishes and swishing the soft cloth through the soapy water. What can you see, smell and hear? The more you practice being mindful and present, the more natural it will become.
Benefits of Mindfulness
- Lowered stress and anxiety
- Improved focus
- Improved wellbeing
- Healthy mind
Modern technology allows us to be constantly switched on, connected, and available. While this does come with its benefits, it can also be detrimental to our health and wellbeing if not managed well. Being bombarded with notifications, emails and social media updates at all hours can be draining and stressful and can distract us from more meaningful activities.
Schedule some tech-free time into every day. Turn off your devices, and head outdoors, meet with a friend, read a book, or meditate. Spend time doing something you love that doesn’t involve technology. Just be. And resist the temptation to share it on social media! I also recommend you make your bedroom a tech-free zone. The blue light from our screens tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime, making it difficult to fall asleep, and reach the deeper REM sleep cycle. Reducing your tech use before bed will greatly improve the amount and quality of your sleep. You’ll wake up refreshed and more energised, and find you are more productive throughout the day.
Benefits of Tech-free Time
- Improved sleep
- Improved wellbeing
- Healthier relationships
5. Practice Gratitude
Cultivating a daily gratitude practice is a wonderful way to slow down, pay attention to the little things, and say thank you for all the good in our lives. To help make gratitude a part of your everyday life, create cues to remind you when to pause and take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for. This could be as you drink your morning coffee, put on your shoes, or as you leave the house in the morning. Be grateful for the small things as well as the big – a hug from your child, your promotion at work, or a beautiful sunset. Practice gratitude regularly and it will naturally become a part of your everyday life. You’ll find it brings you happiness, better health, and contentment. Plus you’ll attract a whole lot more good stuff to be grateful for!
Benefits of Gratitude
- Positive Attitude
- Improved wellbeing
Download a Free Printable Meaningful Life ‘Cheat Sheet’, For Your Wall or Journal
We live in such a fast-paced, hectic world that it is increasingly important to slow down and make time to cultivate a meaningful life. Subscribe below to access my free Planner Lovers Resource Library and download a free printable Meaningful Life cheat sheet. Keep it handy to remind you of the simple steps to slowing down and living a more meaningful life.