I honestly feel like a complete hypocrite for writing this post as an advocate of Slow Living, when life has been anything but slow of late. I’ve been so wrapped up in to-do lists, the day to day stuff life kicks up and focusing all our attention on the children that I’ve completely forgotten to look after myself. So when Bloomon, a rather wonderful flower delivery company sending blooms through the post asked if they could send me a bouquet, an Instax camera and a notebook in exchange for switching off from all distractions for the day I took them up on their offer straight away.
From 6am to 8pm I went about my day without any of the background noises I usually live with from day to day-that includes the radio, internet, laptop and TV and swapped it all for a notebook, a pencil and my thoughts.
My initial reaction was to inform friends and family that they wouldn’t be able to get hold of me (panic!!) and to plan every minute of the day so that it was spent doing something constructive. Ok, I was offline but I could still paint that chest of drawers…But then that defeats the object of switching off, doesn’t it.
Instead, I spent the day as I always do, with my little daughter, although this time without putting in a couple of hours work in the morning while she slept and rushing around while she occupied herself. This time we had proper conversations, we played with the camera (she’s never seen anything like it!) and we laughed. A lot. I spent a little time arranging these beautiful flowers and photographing them too, a bouquet peppered with some very unusual grasses and blooms, free-form sculptural shapes and texture.
We took a walk into town to meet a friend at our favourite cafe in Rochester, The Deaf Cat and over my choc-chip frappe I got thinking about the last time I truly “switched off”. I went back as far as when I got my first mobile phone – it was 1999 and I was 15. Now, my phone, my work, my everyday thoughts are stuck in “what’s next?” mode. I can be available to everyone at all times. Who really wants that?
At the end of the day, feeling far more refreshed, I put together some of my own tips for every day slow living which I hope you’ll find useful in helping you feel more present. They’re easy to work into your day and you can introduce them as and when you’re ready to…
Cut Out The Unnecessary
What I love about minimalism beyond interiors is how it focuses your mind on what is actually important and necessary to day to day living and what is just excess noise and stress. These are the expectations we project onto ourselves, the pressures we think we ought to feel and carry with us to make it feel like we’re achieving something, but the feeling of accomplishment doesn’t need to go hand in hand with stress. Instead, ask yourself these questions:
• Is this a priority or can I put it aside for later / leave it all together?
• What could I be doing instead that will benefit me at this particular moment? (yes-that includes resting).
Let Go Of Control
We all need to feel in control, it’s what helps to give us a sense of balance. I think it’s a pot-kettle situation for me as I’m most definitely a control freak and can’t stand the thought of certain outcomes being out of my reach. But we can’t control everything all of the time; to use photography as an analogy, I use my iPhone and DSLR because I know how to get them to work for me and anything that isn’t quite up to scratch can be edited afterwards so I’m completely happy with any images before I publish them. Not with the Instax. Wow-I’d not realised how stressful I’d find using it, no matter how I set up the shot, it would always come out completely wrong. In my opinion. But in this instance, it’s not about perfection, it’s about the process, the experience. So instead, I decided to just go with it and whatever came out of the camera was what I got.
Switch Off Regularly
It doesn’t matter how much time you can devote to taking time out-it might be an afternoon once a fortnight or once a month, but remember to actively switch off regularly. When was the last time you sat outside somewhere and just listened? No phone, no conversations, just focusing on what you hear. Or find another activity – walking, cooking, reading to take yourself out of that space for a while. Focusing your mind on one thing (like a form of meditation) is an easy way to calm your thoughts and teaches you to learn to be in the moment. Anything else can wait.
Do With Intention
If you’re making time to relax and slow down then do it with intention. Say to yourself that you’ll be taking this time to read, bake, go for coffee-whatever, and then do just that. Don’t get part way through and half-heartedly start checking your emails or catching up on a little work. It can wait. And the same applies for working-if you’ve decided to work, then get it finished before you start scrolling through Netflix or checking your Facebook.
Find A Ritual
Look for something you enjoy that you can do every day to help slow down. In my case, it’s making a stove-top coffee in the morning, but it’s not so much the drinking it as it is the act of building it. Grinding up the beans, boiling the kettle, packing the grounds, warming the milk. I stop to notice each element as I go, the smells, the sounds. Each of these little actions gives me time to wake up, think my thoughts and be still before my day starts. What’s your ritual?
These are just a few of my go-to tips for Slow Living, small but most definitely significant. What do you do to slow down?
Bloomon is a flower subscription service with a difference-sending unique bouquets full of fresh blooms direct from the grower to you as and when you choose. Pretty darn lovely, right?
Photography & Styling © Tiffany Grant-Riley
•• This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Bloomon.