Inside: Learn about five important health benefits of slow and simple living to help motivate you to slow down and simplify your life.
A guest post by Rose Morrison
The recent pandemic made many people pause. You aren’t alone if you ask yourself, “Is this the life I want to be living?” That time allowed many to reflect on their lives including the pace and busyness they’d been sustaining.
Humanity as a whole would benefit from slow, simple living. Being more intentional with how we spend our time and energy could help to reduce stress levels. Deciding to acquire less stuff can help to reduce waste going forward and provide a greater connection to the world around us.
While you might not be able to change the whole world, you can do your part by embracing simple and slow living. Your efforts will pay off with significant health benefits for your body and mind. Here’s how.
5 Health Benefits of Slow and Simple Living
If the idea of practicing slow living is appealing to you, here are some additional motivators for you to slow down and live more simply.
1. More Time for What Matters
How many items do you have on your bucket list? Do you plan to do them all post-retirement, when you’re already world-weary and quite possibly dealing with health woes? If so, you could unwittingly set yourself up for disappointment and regret.
It doesn’t matter how hard you grind — there are no guarantees in life. The only moment you truly have is the present one. Shouldn’t you seek to make each day memorable instead of postponing your happiness until an elusive “someday?”
Obviously, you must tend to life’s realities, like paying rent. However, living simply helps you make the most of the spare time you do have.
Keeping your possessions to a well-organized minimum means spending less time dusting and more engaging in more meaningful activities, like playing with your kids or digging into books you enjoy.
What if you’re one of the many Americans living paycheck to paycheck and spending every waking moment trying to make your wages keep up with rising rents? Can you get creative to simplify your life and slow down? Some ideas you might consider:
- Downsize: If you own, can you sell and buy smaller or rent spare rooms as vacation properties? If you rent, how hip are you to roommates, or even van or RV life?
- Communicate: While many employers want their staff back in the office, other, more progressive firms are more amenable to telework. Skipping your commute can free up hours of weekly time.
- Make your hobbies profitable: You may despise the idea of monetizing your hobbies, but if you can grow a side hustle into a business doing what you love, you could someday get paid to play with puppies or create artwork full-time.
There are various ways to save more money while simplifying your life which in turn helps to free up more time for what matters most to you.
2. Develop the Bonds Humans Need
Another one of the health benefits of slow and simple living is that it allows for being more intentional with your relationships.
Loneliness can kill. It increases your risk of death from all causes and despite the modern world’s technological connectivity, it’s more widespread than ever. One of the driving forces behind the Great Resignation was the desire for more time with the people who matter most.
Building secure attachments in your relationships takes time and nurturance. Your goal could be to simplify your life enough to add two or three meaningful social interactions each week. For example, you might honor date night with your spouse, take your child on a playdate where you socialize, and phone an aging relative for a nice long chat over tea.
How can you meet others if your social network is thin? Let your simple lifestyle guide you:
- If your hobby is hiking, chat with others on the trail and let folks know your availability for partnering up on longer treks. There’s safety in numbers and many other soloists would appreciate a buddy. Finding “tramilies” is a thing.
- If you enjoy creating art or cooking, build your skills by signing up for a course through your local parks and recreation department or nearby community college.
- If you love yoga, keep searching until you find the right group.
In a time when technology and social media have taken over much of the time people would have spent in community, it takes intentionality and effort to develop solid relationships but the benefits are more than worth the effort.
3. Take Better Charge of Your Physical Health
When was the last time you cooked a nutritious meal from start to finish? How about the last time you visited a fast food establishment because you were famished and had no energy to cook?
Slowing down not only allows you to enjoy your life more but it also gives you more time to take charge of your physical health. You recognize you perform at your best when you feel good and prioritize behaviors that keep you feeling that way, like eating nourishing meals and exercising.
You also recognize the importance of stopping minor problems before they become major headaches. Instead of skipping the annual checkup, you keep your recommended doctor’s appointments, enabling you to act quickly through lifestyle changes if your numbers indicate a prediabetes risk or test scores suggest mild depression.
Slow living also encourages spending more time outdoors which also has a variety of benefits for both your physical and mental health. Taking more intentional breaks from technology and breathing fresh air will help you to feel more balanced.
4. Absorb the Lessons Along the Way
What are your top priorities in life? Everyone will have different answers regarding their priorities and purpose. However, slow and simple living allows you to gain greater insights with plenty of time to reflect on your experiences.
Getting in tune with your tendencies, gifts, and the things you are drawn to can help you get more done as you embrace them. You become like Forrest Gump, effortlessly jogging across the nation multiple times by honoring your internal, nature-driven cues. When you get hungry, you eat— when you get tired, you sleep.
Life gets infinitely better when you apply these principles to your career. For example, if you love to build things, a career in construction is a natural fit, whereas others might gravitate toward artistic or intellectual endeavors.
How do you live out your purpose in a practical sense? Consider the following:
- What are you naturally good at? For example, introverts can be miserable in customer service roles, but more extroverted types might thrive in interactions with others, no matter how challenging. Pay attention to what comes naturally to you.
- What excites you the most? What makes you happy in your spare time besides material distractions? What topics lead you to fall down a Wiki hole? How can you integrate your passions into your daily life?
- What have other people told you about yourself? Sometimes, it’s challenging to see yourself objectively. However, if others have noted that you’re a natural teacher or mechanical whiz, it could indicate your soul’s path.
By living in alignment with your values and priorities, you’ll find a greater sense of happiness and satisfaction with your life.
5. Decrease Stress (and With It, Inflammation)
Systemic inflammation lurks behind nearly every chronic health condition. It arises from multiple factors — like past injuries or infections — but stress amplifies it.
When you experience constant pressure, your body produces excess levels of hormones like cortisol that can create all kinds of unwanted side effects like weird food cravings and weight gain that lead to diabetes and heart disease.
What causes excess stress? While you can’t control every factor — like micromanaging bosses — you can manage how many irons you put in the proverbial fire. Spreading yourself too thin by trying to do it “all” can result in not feeling satisfied with anything.
Your hormones affect your neurotransmitters, which impact your mood. Clinging to a Type A lifestyle can ironically create a nasty biochemical soup that prevents you from feeling genuine joy.
Your remedy is to slow down. Learn to do one thing at a time, mindfully. You can’t savor that piece of cake if your brain is busy balancing a budget report, but those extra calories will hang around all the same. You may as well enjoy them!
The beautiful part happens after you embrace slow living for a while. Although it takes time to soothe the biochemical storm in your body that stems from excess stress, it results in more profound joy.
Slowing down allows you to notice and appreciate more of life’s simple joys — and that’s a great way to live.
Enjoy the Health Benefits of Slow and Simple Living
Does the modern world move too quickly for your tastes? You always control how you manage your energy, so how can you not benefit from devoting your limited amount to savoring life’s sweetness through simple, slow living?
Doing so could result in significant health perks. Most importantly, you’ll find rich meaning in each day when you stop rushing through the motions and choose to live with purpose and intent.
Which of the health benefits of slow and simple living are most motivating to you? Share it in the comments section.
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