Niobe Shaw looks at how we all can live a slower pace of life.

In a world becoming obsessed with efficiency and speed – fast fashion, fast food, one-click ordering, maximising productivity and condensing content – slow living prioritises the opposite.

Googling ‘slow living’ offers 3.8 billion results, ironically in just half a second. Living slowly is to live a life that feels balanced, while making intentional choices based on your values. The lifestyle goes against much of what the 21st century has built, yet it’s gaining in popularity.

It’s a way of living that has intrigued me for some time. Like many, I’ve learned about the lifestyles of our happy Scandinavian neighbours in reads detailing hygge and lagom. Ever since these books promoting cosiness, comfort and having ‘just enough’ hit our shelves – intentionally placed alongside candles and houseplants – slow living has been on the rise.

However it isn’t new. Slow living stems from the slow food movement. In the late 80s, Carlo Petrini and other activists protested against the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome. The group wanted to protect the authenticity and joy of home-based cooking and eating together. The Slow Food manifesto stated, “To escape the tediousness of ‘fast-food’, let us rediscover the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisines.” 

Slow living encourages us to take joy from everyday moments. A glance at #slowliving on Instagram shows scenes of coffee cups alongside journals, cosy cabins dappled in sunlight and calming, neutral interiors. It’s about savouring simplicity, sustainability and serenity.

Why opt for a slower lifestyle?

This more conscious and intentional approach to life comes with several benefits for individuals and for the planet. It’s no wonder more and more of us are opting to move to the slow lane, at least in the areas of life in which we have the power to do so.

Do you allow yourself to rest, or do you feel guilty when you take an afternoon break on the sofa? Many of us have been brought up measuring our self-worth, or a day’s success, on how productive it has been. A slower lifestyle challenges this view, offering a more relaxed way of being. It isn’t promoting laziness; instead it encourages more conscious choices, rather than living our lives in a perpetual fluster.



Slow living is less stressful. The mindset shift allows more clarity over tasks. Focusing on completing them one at a time – and completing it well – enables you to get through your to-do list in a more attentive way, rather than stressfully bouncing between tasks.

Choosing activities that fulfil you,
rather than whittling away time, will provide a greater sense of enjoyment and purpose.

Reclaiming your time and space, and experiencing less stress, will allow you to spend more quality time with yourself and those you’re closest to. 

Prioritising more of what makes you happy improves well-being, and being more present will enable you to find reasons to be cheerful that you might otherwise miss.

It’s better for the planet. Slow living places a strong emphasis on sustainability and the move away from commercialism and convenience. In removing yourself from the fast lane, you’ll inevitably make more considered choices and consume less.

"Belle's angels" - Niamh Walter (left), Belle Hutton (centre), Rachel Gilbert (right)

How you can slow down

Living slowly in this fast paced world isn’t easy. Whilst I’d love a morning routine incorporating a journaling session, a gentle stroll with a peppermint tea, and a chapter of a book, my lengthy commute doesn’t allow for this. That being said, we can bring elements of slow living into our lives no matter how busy it seems. Begin by trying one or two of these tips.



Make the time for the things you love, by limiting your distractions. A few minutes scrolling through your phone is fine, but don’t let it take over. Be intentional in your plans. For example, enjoy an episode of a show and let excitement build for the next one, instead of  bingeing an entire series. Whatever your hobby, be it reading, exercising or painting, prioritise these and dedicate your full focus. 


Try to cook from scratch more often, even if it’s just one meal a week to start with. Find a new recipe or recall an old favourite, shop for the ingredients, and set aside time to bring this dish to life. Eat at a table, without the distraction of a screen. Think to yourself, or chat with your companions: how many colours are on the plate? Where in the world have these foods come from? What flavours am I tasting?



International travel is increasing again, but you don’t need to go far to enjoy an adventure: there’s plenty to do on our doorstep in Norfolk and Suffolk. Head somewhere new or return to a favourite spot. Visit a coffee shop and ask the barista to impart their local wisdom. You’re bound to leave with a few ideas of where to enjoy next. 

Whether home or abroad, try to chat to local people, eat in independent restaurants rather than chains, and prioritise basking in the moment over ticking off every attraction from the travel guide. You might even find that people-watching with an ice cream is more satisfying.


Go Outside

Countless reports have proven that getting outdoors is hugely beneficial, and embracing time in the fresh air is an important part of slow living. From wild swimming to gardening, paddle-boarding to a walk around the park, being outside in nature is a wonderful way to slow down and be present.

One mindfulness technique is to consider the senses. Pause and think about five things you can see, four that you can hear, three you can feel, two you can smell and one you can taste. It’ll leave you feeling calm and grateful for the great outdoors. 


Be present and intentional

Ultimately, this is slow living: a focus on the moment and on the little things that matter most. Allow yourself a chance to rest, to consider what is most important to you, and how you can maximise whatever makes you feel calm and content.