HOW TO INTRODUCE SLOW LIVING TO THE WHOLE FAMILY
Slow living encourages us to stop chasing and doing and be more mindful in enjoying the present moment. If you’re keen to step away from the fast lane and have a better quality of life as a family, in this guest post from Mia Barnes from Body+Mind magazine, here are some tips on how to introduce slow living to the whole family.
SLOW LIVING AND THE BENEFITS OF A SLOWER PACE
Are you tired of the constant hustle and bustle of daily life? Are you hoping to have more meaningful moments with your family and a better sense of well-being? Slow living might be the solution you are looking for. It is a mindset and lifestyle choice emphasising intentionality, simplicity, connection and savouring the present moment. Slow living reduces stress and cultivates better quality time.
START WITH SMALL STEPS
Introducing slow living to your family starts with small, manageable steps. Overhauling your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. Focus on making gradual changes that allow everyone to adjust and embrace the slow-living mindset at their own pace.
1. Encourage Your Family to Declutter
Slow living starts by decluttering and simplifying your physical environment. Clutter hinders productivity and significantly impacts mental health. Research has shown that messy spaces can increase stress levels, reduce concentration and contribute to anxiety.
According to Harvard Business Review, a cluttered environment can negatively affect your ability to focus and process information efficiently. The study found that excess clutter competes for your attention, making it difficult for the brain to concentrate on tasks.
Another study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology revealed that individuals living in cluttered homes have greater stress levels, increased feelings of anxiety and reduced productivity. Clutter activates the body’s stress response, which can cause tension and anxiety.
Here’s how to declutter and organise your home:
- Begin with one area at a time: Choose a specific room or smaller area within a space to focus on.
- Sort items into categories: Divide your belongings and put them into categories like “keep,” “donate/sell” and “throw away.”
- Let go of attachments: The reason why it’s hard to declutter is because you have memories of the particular item. It’s best to select only the most meaningful things and take photos of the rest so you can look at them anytime you want.
- Create storage systems: After decluttering, make a system to establish functional storage systems to maintain an organised environment. You can use baskets, shelves and other containers to keep things neat.
- Have other family members participate: Encourage your kids to let go of excess belongings and encourage everyone to take responsibility for their room and spaces.
2. Foster Mindful Consumption
Consumerism has a detrimental effect on the environment and your well-being. It can encourage a culture of excess, leading to stress and dissatisfaction with what you already have. Moreover, the production and disposal of goods contributes significantly to environmental degradation.
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions. According to the United Nations Environment Program, textile production generates more greenhouse gas output than international aviation and shipping combined. Fast fashion, emphasising disposable and low-quality clothing, further worsens this issue by encouraging rapid disposal and frequent purchases.
The constant pursuit of acquiring and managing belongings can lead to financial strain, cluttered living spaces and a sense of never having enough. This can lead to a feeling of ungratefulness, impacting your family’s mental health in the long run. Counteract the adverse effects of consumerism by embracing conscious purchase decisions and practicing minimalism to benefit the environment. This also reduces the ecological footprint and alleviates financial pressures.
Here’s how to focus on mindful consumption:
- Make a list: When shopping, only list things you need to avoid impulse buying. Stick to this list at all times.
- Delay gratification: When you or your kids encounter an item you desire, give yourself time to reflect before purchasing. Ask if you need to buy it right now or if you can save money for it.
- Prioritise quality over quantity: Invest in high-quality items instead of cheap ones that will only last for a while. This helps reduce waste.
3. Prioritise Well-Being and Self-Care
Self-care is not a luxury. It is essential to maintain physical, emotional and mental health. Prioritising self-care is for the whole family and sets the foundations for happier and healthier lives.
Self-care can start with being intentional with practicing mindfulness and meditation. It might seem unfamiliar at first, especially for kids. Explain that it allows them to be present while focusing on their breath.
Try it for five minutes and see how the kids respond. If this is ineffective, you can ask them to do a simple exercise together, such as walking, taking a ride or dancing. Movement helps release endorphins, which can boost mood.
Spending quality time together as a family is also a form of self-care. It will strengthen your bonds and build memories. There are a lot of things you can do as a family to strengthen this bond.
- Cook or bake together: Ask the kids what desserts they want and bake them together over the weekend. This builds teamwork and lets you teach them in a creative and fun way.
- Plan game nights: Games bring out the competitive spirit in everyone. Schedule a fun evening with the rest of the family and play some board or card games.
- Go on outdoor adventures: Plan dates where you can go to parks, nature reserves or other attractions in your area. This lets your family explore and unwind together.
4. Promote Boundaries and Say No
Setting healthy boundaries is a practice your kids should learn when they’re young. It’s vital to understand that excessive commitments can lead to burnout. Taking on too much can lead to increased stress and a lack of quality time with family. Tell everyone that open and honest communication is one of the best foundations in the family.
Set a time when everyone can discuss commitments and responsibilities and be open if they have needs and limitations. This makes it easier for family members to have healthy boundaries and not overcommit to things within and outside the home.
SLOW LIVING IS A WAY OF LIFE
Slow living helps families focus on mental health and well-being. Embracing this lifestyle reduces stress, giving you better quality time. It gives you a more purposeful and intentional life that fosters a deeper connection.
Slow living might take longer to get used to than expected, especially if it’s new to your family. It can be a process, and that’s OK. The vital thing is that you take small steps while helping each other along the way.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Do you practice slow living as a family? What do you think have been the greatest benefits and impact? Was it difficult to adjust to a slower, more mindful lifestyle as a family? What was the biggest struggle or obstacle to embrace slow living as a family?
I’d love to hear from you if you have any ideas or thoughts to share which might help others?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mia Barnes is a freelance writer and researcher with a passion for mental wellness and healthy living. Mia Barnes is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online health publication, Body+Mind magazine.
Here are some resources and articles around slow living, mindfulness and intentional living which you might enjoy:
- What Is Intentional Living? A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Meaningful Life – What is intentional living and why does it matter? If you’re feeling unsettled, frustrated, like something is missing or life isn’t turning out quite how you expected, then this article is for you. This is a beginner’s guide to creating a meaningful life with more of what matters and less of what doesn’t.
- 20 Ways To Bond With Your Partner When Life Is Busy – When life gets busy, it’s easy for our relationships to go on autopilot or survive on time snatched at the end of a stressful day. Yet, finding ways to reconnect with your partner needn’t be costly or time-consuming but they do help support a happy, strong and healthy relationship. Check out this post on 20 ways to bond with your partner when busy life gets in the way.
- How to Protect Your Mental Health and Get The Most Out of Life – Here are some tips to help you protect your mental health and wellbeing so you’re more positive and able to get the most out of life.
- The Cost of Clutter: What Is Your Clutter Costing You? – Clutter can take up space in our home, heart and mind but what else is your clutter costing you? In this article we look at the cost of clutter so you can decide for yourself.
GET YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD!
If you’re looking to explore slow living for yourself, one of the first places to start is at home. A calm and uncluttered outer environment supports a calmer inner environment too, and this applies to you and your family too.
For some tips on how to clear clutter and make space in your life for a slower lifestyle, why not get your copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit to help you get started today?
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