‘Go with the slow’ Why it’s time to move out of the fast lane
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There’s no doubt that life is speeding up, yet growing numbers of us want it to slow down. In fact, three quarters of people feel overwhelmed by the fast pace of life, according to YouGov research. If this is how you feel, it could be time to join the slow movement. This approach is more than just taking life at a gentler pace, it’s about changing your mindset and connecting with your environment in a different way.
“The slow movement began in Italy in 1986 and focused on slow food. But the idea quickly gained popularity and now includes travel, TV, towns and books,” says Shane Holland from Slow Food in the UK (slowfood.org.uk).
The latest addition to the movement is slow media, which suggests slowing down your interaction with technology to have a more meaningful experience.
So which slower pace of life will you choose?
“Since the birth of slow food in Italy in the 1980s, this movement has spread across the globe and now involves millions of people in over 150 countries,” says Shane.
“The concept is simple. It’s about preparing food yourself, connecting with the process of cooking, not eating fast food, using seasonal ingredients and rediscovering the pleasure of the food you eat.”
Shane adds: “Good food doesn’t have to be expensive, nor is food just fuel. It’s about love – whether you’re just cooking for yourself, or for family and friends.”
Eating more slowly and being mindful of food choices, can also help to reduce bad habits, like reaching for an unhealthy carb fix.
Try these tips to help you reconnect with food.
- When you eat, give it your full attention. Don’t read, listen to the radio, watch TV or scroll through your phone at the same time.
- With every bite, chew slowly and the flavours and textures of your food.
- What feelings and sensations arise as you eat? You may taste your food more deeply or feel satisfied sooner by eating more slowly.
“It’s tempting to use social at breakneck speed, scrolling from one feed to another.
But you can learn to change your habits,” explains Tanya Goodin, founder of Time To Log Off (itstimetologoff.com).
“Rather than interacting 24/7 on social media, slow media is about slowing down the way you use technology to make any interaction mindful and meaningful.”
Here are Tanya’s top tips for taking back control.
- Set time limits for going online – use a phone alarm to remind you when to log off.
- Keep checking in with how social media makes you feel. Numerous studies have shown over-use can have a negative impact on your wellbeing, so log off if you feel your mood dropping.
- Use social media to be inspired and stay informed. Follow the accounts that celebrate achievement, not appearance.
- Turn off notifications to give yourself a break, put your phone on silent or leave it in another room.
The idea is to take your holiday at a slower pace. Some people opt to go by train, boat, bike or even barge.
“Slow travel helps you to connect more with a destination, and the communities you visit. It’s a mindset,” says Cat Jones, founder of By Way Travel, experts in slow travel. “It’s about taking the time to experience a place as it really is, eating local food, meeting local people.”
Travelling by train, boat and bus is usually less carbon intensive than a flight-based equivalent, making it more sustainable than a package holiday too.
“Popular slow travel holidays are Spain by train, Sicily by boat and a cycling trip around the Netherlands,” adds Cat.
Watching reindeer herders trek across Lapland for two-hours might not sound thrilling, but slow TV is ”
hugely popular due to its relaxing qualities.
The programmes feature train rides, treks, boat journeys and travel destinations with soothing soundtracks and little dialogue. The movement started in Norway in 2009 when the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) screened a seven-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo. Now, mainstream channels, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix YouTube, have their slow shows.
- Netflix: North of the Sun – watch two surfers build a cabin on a remote beach and clean up pollution.
- YouTube channel Slow TV: The Flight – Dublin to Philadelphia, which seven-hour flight on Lingus from the pilot’s viewpoint.
- BBC iPlayer: The Great Reindeer Migration – join Norway’s Sami herders as they move their reindeer 160 miles across the region of Finnmark.
There are 287 slow towns in 33 countries across the world – a movement that began in Italy during the 1990s. Here in the UK, there are five official slow towns: Mold and Llangollen in Wales, Perth in Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland and Aylsham in Kent.
“Slow towns aim to slow down the pace of life, design space for humans not traffic, and improve quality of life,” explains Ian Jones from Cittaslow UK (cittaslow.org.uk). “A slow in with screening hour journey town also cares for the environment, provides a healthy lifestyle and preserves local cultures.”
If you visit a slow town expect green spaces, local and diverse shops, cultural events, historic buildings and interesting walks.
And this part of the slow movement is now springing up in other UK places – see blogs like slowlivingldn.com, focusing on slow London.
“If you want to experience a book, to mix an author’s ideas with your own and make it a more personal experience, you have to read it slowly,” says John Miedema, author of Slow Reading.
The mental health benefits of reading have long been known – it aids memory and focus, increases creativity and can help to set a night-time routine.
In 2021, a study carried out for The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy found that 43 per cent of people in the UK found reading eased stress levels.
But slow reading isn’t just about the how, it’s about the type of books you read – ones with content to savour. With this in mind, three top slow reads are Sea of Tranquillity by Emily St John Mandel, The Andy Warhol Diaries edited by Pat Hackett, and The Stopping Places by Damian Le Bas.
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