The Joys of Life in the Slow Lane

Have you ever caught yourself getting frustrated at your internet speed, or how long someone is taking to respond to an email, or the snail’s pace of a delivery?

Slow Lane

In the era of instant gratification, it’s hard to remember that it was not always this way. Those emails and files that are cluttering up your outbox? Not that long ago they would have taken weeks to get to the other side of the world, not seconds. And unless you were part of the upper crust, there was no such thing as having chef-made meals delivered straight to you at the press of a button.

Fast food, fast technology, fast conversations – while the pace of life speeds up, there is a growing movement that promotes the benefits of taking it slow for a change.

The slow movement

The ‘slow movement’ is a collective noun for groups of people who advocate a variety of ‘slow’ – i.e. manual, old-school, physical-effort-required – ways to do things. Slow advocates believe it’s the secret to alleviating that “stop the world – I want to get off!” feeling.i

Perhaps the most prominent one you might have heard of is ‘slow food’. The slow food movement has been around since the late ‘80s, when Italian food writer and social activist Carlo Petrini began writing newspaper articles to draw a stronger link between local agriculture and the food ending up on people’s tables.ii Today, there’s a coordinated slow food movement on our shores too: Slow Food in Australia hosts festivals, conferences and events through local chapters all across the country.iii

Food is far from the only facet of our lives that the slow movement has touched. ‘Slow cities’ have sprung up where traditional ways of doing things are valued. Slow movement advocates promote the joys of slow travel – taking the time to become part of local life and connect to a place and its people on your travels. It is an approach that you can use in your everyday life to get a bit of respite from the modern plague of ‘busyness’.

Slowing your pace and being more productive

While it seems like a contradiction to suggest that we can be more effective when we take it a little slower, there are some real advantages in taking a more measured, methodical approach to a task.

We have two systems that drive the way we respond to situations. One is fast and automatic (our “sympathetic” nervous system that has evolved to help us survive threats – think ‘fight or flight’ responses) and the other is slower and more logical (our “parasympathetic” nervous system which supports rational thought). Approaching things more slowly puts our logical mind into the driver’s seat, which enables us to think though our choices and avoid making the mistakes that occur when we react quickly. Taking your time working on a dedicated task can also help you feel a sense of calm and relaxation that you certainly won’t get while you are frantically multitasking.

Find what you love and take it slow

The key to enjoying life in the slow lane every once in a while is to find at least one thing you love doing the old-fashioned way, and set aside some time to linger over the task.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to wander around at a farmer’s market. But you might be up for chucking a bunch of seasonal ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning and coming home to a house that smalls great and a pot full of meltingly tender meat and veg.

And while you might not want to take up woodworking to make your own furniture and cabinetry – especially if you’re already a die-hard IKEA fan – there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of fixing something that was broken or creating something from scratch.

Perhaps think about skipping that extra half hour of telly in favour of something screen free – some reading, sketching, or even a bit of meditation if you’re ready to really get down to it.

Pottering around in the garden and growing your own produce can also be very satisfying. Watching buds unfurl and seeds emerge from the ground over a period of weeks and months is a form of meditation in itself.

Of course one of the easiest ways to take it slow is to go for a stroll. So get off that treadmill and feel good about taking it easy.




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