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30.03.2020- On the beauty of slow living

Whilst there’s no doubt that the times which we find ourselves living in at the moment are extremely uncertain and very scary, I think that it’s really important to try and find the positives in the situation where we can. Last week’s amazing #ClapforCarers moment really made me realise that we can take small positive actions during the course of this crisis to take back a little bit of control and look for the good at a time when many of us feel powerless and swamped by the seemingly never-ending stream of sad news from one day to the next. 

As human beings, we’re so used to be able to have things to look forward to, and to be able to make plans for the future, whether that’s something as simple as going to the cinema, going away on holiday, or a larger life event like getting married. However, over the last few weeks (and undoubtedly across the next few months too), we’ve found ourselves having to rearrange things, cancel meet ups and postpone events which we’ve looked forward to for so long. Of course, this is all with the most important purpose in mind- in helping to shield the most vulnerable members of our society and protect the NHS, a service which we are so so lucky to have. Living with few opportunities to forward plan at the moment is something which requires a certain degree of adjustment, but at the same time it’s important to recognise that this time- state sanctioned as it is- can be something which teaches us to let go of bad habits and focus less on the long term, and more on living in the moment from day to day. 

If I’m being brutally honest with myself, I tend to struggle without a fixed week to week plan, and the industry which I work in means that I very often need to try and structure my free time as far in advance as I can- planning time off and co-ordinating my weeks and months so that I don’t feel too swamped or overcommitted. This isn’t to say that this is a strategy which always works, and indeed in the run up to Christmas last year I think I felt more burnt out than I ever have before (complete with bonus twitchy eye to add into the bargain). Between the start of last November and the end of December, every weekend in my diary was accounted for too, which definitely didn’t help in terms of feeling overwhelmed by life, the universe and everything. And now, suddenly, many of us find that we’re suddenly with free time at our disposal- having gone from having none whatsoever. 

Determined as I am to seek out the positives, this sudden luxury of an extra few hours at the start and the end of each day without having to worry about commuting as I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home, and weekends which will be based in one place for the foreseeable future feels like something to be embraced as an opportunity to take a step back and recalibrate. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that there have been so many instances during my adult life where I’ve felt that I haven’t had enough time, and usually the things which tend to fall by the wayside amidst the home to London commute, 10-6 working (and overtime) are the things which I know I should put always aim to put first- namely spending time with my family, looking after myself both physically and mentally and actually a moment to switch off and do what I want to do rather than what I’ve already committed to or what I feel I should be doing at any given moment. 

Living in a constant rush as we tend to do so much in the modern world, it’s very easy to just live for the weekend, which inevitably comes and goes much too quickly, but now with the collective focus of the world on simply getting through one day at a time, we’re being forced to shift our attention from the macro to the micro. Instead of looking at the bigger picture, we’re able to celebrate small moments of victory and joy- both together (from a distance) and also individually. The small things which I’m finding positives in every day at the moment are ridiculously simple: communicating with friends, taking time to actually plan and cook my meals rather than grabbing something on the go or in a rush when I get in from work- and even the simple happiness of feeling the sun against the back of my neck during a lunchtime wander to the bottom of the garden. 

I’ve also found time to reignite passions of mine which have been parked for far too long- including baking, doing some proper writing and focusing properly on reading. Also (and these are words which I never thought I’d be typing), if my recovery from surgery a few years ago taught me anything, it’s that you have to find the little wins in each day, and take things one step at a time- literally at times. There’s no question that life as we know it is very much in flux at the moment, but we can all without question do our part by stepping back, embracing a slower pace, and supporting the services that need our help. When all of this is over, let’s remember this time as one where we were able to reconnect with a slower pace, taking time to switch off rather than always being on, communicating with kindness and empathy and realising what’s really important.

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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