THE INTENTION OF SLOWING THINGS DOWN + WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN PRACTICAL TERMS
Slowing Things Down | A Progress Update
It's easy to say "That’s it… I'm slowing things down from here on in", but you might wonder (as I did), how does that actually translate in practical terms? In the real and demanding world of juggling all the elements required to stay organised in life and afloat as a business? So I decided to pop this title in my post drafts in January to remind me to report back later on in the year and check in with how it's going.
And knowing my tendency to want to follow something through to completion and deliver on a promise, being accountable for reporting back would mean that I had more chance of staying on track with those slowing down intentions. At the time of writing this, we're going through a somewhat difficult time in general with wider family issues so I'm glad that I had the foresight to make a few notes throughout the year so far, recording the different aspects of slowing down and how I've drifted towards them. I choose "drifted towards" over "implemented" as that feels like too fierce a word for something that feels like it’s meant to be a lot more holistic.
At the point of evaluating where I am and writing this post, I don't take this update as a sign that I think I've "achieved" a slower life... box ticked, job done. I'm learning that it's an ever evolving process. One you need to regularly check in with, tweak, adjust and reevaluate what it means at any given time.
Changes On The Work Front
I've gone from posting on Instagram from three times a day to just once. About two years ago, I went into great detail in a blog post about why I was publishing three images a day - it was pre-algorithm so I truly believe that, not only did it help me grow an audience but also to figure out the style of imagery I love to create. I've now noticed that posting just once a day, sometimes not even that, allows me to be more selective, think about what I want to write, express something with more meaning (should meaningful be the order of the day - it’s not always), and also have time for more conversation and genuine connection with Insta friends via comments.
I now know that two blogs posts per week, and sometimes just the one which has often been the case when I’m working on other projects, is perfectly okay. Again, it comes down to quality over quantity, writing about what I love and losing that ingrained “I MUST publish something… ANYTHING!” mentality. And remembering that the time taken to plan, prepare, shoot images if necessary, draft and edit a post is significant. Rome was not built in a day!
A New Approach To Living
Sometimes, when we're busy running amok in the manner of headless chickens, there's no space left to think, let alone find anything remotely like a state of clarity or calm. This not only applies to the things which are really important but also to the smaller details that might seem insignificant on their own, but when you add them up, can quickly pile on the stress.
Trying to find a practical example of what I’m talking about, I recently realised that I’ve replaced an old habit with a newer one. In the past, when I was stressed or feeling under pressure, I would mindlessly want to acquire more things and stuff in an attempt to salve the soul. I am of course talking shopping... surely one of the most common knee jerk reactions to these situations?
Instead my urges are now focused on tidying, clearing out, passing on and donating unwanted stuff. I’m learning that by having the time to think and figure out what I'm really experiencing, “more” definitely doesn’t help. “More” is like too much noise and if left unchecked, its chips away at my daily irritation levels. I’ve been taken over by the need to declutter and simplify... over and over again.
Take the act of putting on makeup every day for instance. Scrabbling through a huge make up bag of items I rarely use to find the five or six that I use every single day religiously? Annoying and unnecessary. And in taking time to look at what those regularly used items were, I realised I'd unconsciously moved towards the simplicity of makeup that I applied and smudged on with my fingers. Bye Bye all the brushes that weren’t needed, hello one very happy teen daughter who now has my cosmetic cast-offs to experiment with!
Or for another random example - how about the three dried hydrangea stems that I put on the patio table in a pot, only to retrieve them from various corners of the garden every single goddamn day after the wind had scattered them? I brought them inside... and then proceeded to spend time picking up all the bits that kept falling off. So I put them in the bin. Turns out they weren't one of life's necessities after all.
There were a number of things on the self-care front that I had in mind when I set my slowing down intentions at the beginning of the year. Some I'm making good headway with and others not so much. But that's what a check in is for right?
Eating & Drinking More Mindfully
I get a tick for a making decent breakfast and eating it on time. I've been making smoothies or overnight oats and making sure that I eat before 9:30am. When it comes to planning weekly meals, I feel I could participate more in this and help to source a few healthier recipes but overall, whilst we might stick to the same tried and tested dinners when life is busy, we do eat well. I need to improve vastly on my lunches and not resorting to copious snacks when stressed or looking to evening red wine as an escape route from the tough times.
Reading More Books
I'm nailing this one! I haven't read as many books as I have so far this year in ages and I'm loving it - that in itself is proof I'm allowing myself more time. There’s a list of my favourites on the subject of creativity and inspiration here.
Hmmm... sometimes yes, sometimes no. Dog walks and Pilates most Thursdays is good progress in my book. The rest I'm still trying to figure out. I aim to work in some yoga and I have a sneaking suspicion that my running days are in the past *glares at right knee*. However I'm not averse to an energetic hike through the New Forest or over sandy beach terrain... or an impromptu dance session with the dog.
Stepping Away From The Desk
I've found that small breaks in the day really help my inspiration and productivity levels quite a bit. I've stopped the flogging a dead horse mentality - if the creativity isn’t happening, I'll walk away for a bit. I just need to work on stepping away earlier in the evening a few more days a week so I can reconnect with family and domestic stuff. I’m currently working on the theory that folding laundry and ironing is in fact a mindful activity. Tenuous? We’ll see.
So that's where I am on the slowing down journey so far. And in the spirit of celebrating our achievements in the now rather than feeling that we always have another goal to reach, seeing it all written down on the page makes me realise how far I've come since this time last year. What would slowing down mean for you? And have you tried to implement any small changes this year?
Photography: SarahLou Francis