Friday, March 1, 2019

Slow Living: What it Means to me and Why I Decided Burnout and Stress Weren't Cool Anymore

A little while ago I stopped and asked myself, "when did I become this person?"

This stressed out, burnt out, irritable person.

I wondered to myself how I got to the point where I was so "busy", that it didn't seem I was prioritizing anything that was actually important to me.  I was pushing myself through my everyday, hoping that if I
could just push it into the next day, that finally there would be "enough time".

Sound familiar?

After realizing this (and far too long after realizing this, I might add), I started taking steps to a better life.  It wasn't even until somewhat recently that I discovered there's a word for the life that I realized that I wanted: Slow Living. 

Slow Living is "structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment" 

— Beth Meredith & Eric Storm

After realizing that I needed to slow down a bit, I started paying attention to things that I didn't "have time" to pay attention to before.  Like how much I ate or drank (read: caffeine), or how much time I spent just feeling sad and depressed for no reason.  I was drained by the everyday, dreaded dragging myself out of bed in the morning, and even would stay up later than I should have because of how much I just very badly did not want to have my next conscious event be waking up for another day of dragging myself through life.

Enter: Slow Living

Slow Living isn't something that can happen super quickly, and for me it has definitely been a process and a learning experience.  At first when I started making changes in my life I was scared, and despite making drastic changes I still remained stressed out for no reason for a few months.  Even four months after making my biggest lifestyle changes, I had a panic attack and felt overwhelmed when things got a little unexpected in life.  

But I am happy to say that I am becoming more aware of myself, my time, my mental health, and my value every day.

So here are some things that I've been practicing in my newfound Slow Living lifestyle:

1. Creating a Home Environment that Enriches You

To me, this means having a light and organized home.  And I mean "light" in two different ways: light, as in lots of light, and light as in less cluttered.  Both of these were achieved when we moved apartments last May.  There was a lot of light at our old apartment, but I wanted to be sure that we kept this when we moved.  I knew that I would begin to feel depressed if we moved to a place with very little natural light coming in, and I also hoped to be able to set up my desk next to a large window for this reason.  We really lucked out and found an incredible apartment with a ton of natural light. 

We also achieved the de-cluttering definition of light when we moved, though I'm starting to feel like another round of this might be due sometime soon!  Having less to be physically moving around in your home leads to less stress.  Junk and clutter can bring you down in ways you wouldn't realize or think that they would.  And it is tied a little bit into the way I decorate our home too.  I want things to be visually light with intentionally balanced interest.  I am passionate about decorating our home because it is fun for me, but also because having a cohesively decorated home makes each day feel light and organized and purposeful.  If my surroundings are purposeful, I am more likely to feel motivated and less distracted. 

2. Establishing a Work / Life Balance

This one I think I've only partially achieved, but I hope one day I get to a better place.  On one hand, I think that I've been successful at making sure my work time is appropriately spent, and I am prioritizing the work that is the most key to my happiness in the long term.  But then I also feel that because I am doing a lot of work at home for the blog and for my Etsy shop, I've almost created this seamless home & work life where I'm really never not "Working".  Like, I'm constantly assessing what should be done tomorrow when I should be "home from work",  and I never schedule like, "a day off".  Any "day off" from my job for an outside employer is spent packing a multitude of tasks into a day, and I don't really have a set time where I "go home".  

Though, I do have to say I have come a long way with this in general.

To have a truly fulfilling life I realized that I needed to make time for things I was passionate about, and that I shouldn't let my passions get sacrificed because I was too busy.  At some point it became a badge of honor to be "too busy".  I'm not sure who made that a thing, but they must be really rich because people are eating. that. up. 

Since when is it "cool" or "impressive" to be so busy that you don't have the time or are too tired to get together with friends, or take a walk?  I think I used to think that I had to prove I was SO BUSY to not want to do something, because well, that was the only legitimate reason to decline something, right?  Now I'm trying to hard to be able to say, "well I don't want to do xyz because I planned to do laundry that day or see a movie with Drew", and not feel like the worst person ever for just expressing what I would like to do with my time other than have more commitments & projects.  And this is not to say that I aim to say no to everything, just that I want to make sure there is time for just enjoying life and seeing people.  I want to prioritize people in my life rather than being too busy to enjoy and foster relationships with friends and family. 

3.  Set a Routine

I do feel confident and happy that I have at least set a morning routine that I stick to a lot of mornings: bullet journal, record business analytics, pack up any orders, have coffee, begin today's tasks + planning. 

Especially with working from home on my business,  I think it's important to structure myself and my work with a daily and monthly routine.  I hope to do a vlog on this later in the month as to how I am structuring my daily, weekly and monthly routines. 

But I think one that might be useful for others out there, is to try to come up with a morning and evening routine that isn't rushed.   Go to bed early, and get up with enough time that you aren't scrambling out the door.  It's very easy to fall into the routine of waking up late and skipping parts of your routine, but it's only going to make the day more stressful from the start. 

4.  Practice Positive Self - Referencing

I am still very guilty of this.  Even my last sentence demonstrates the thing I'm trying to steer away from, and that is blaming myself for my perceived shortcomings.  

I often find myself apologizing for unfounded reasons.  Like, walking past someone and saying, "sorry" instead of "excuse me".   I have a habit of taking a long time to respond to emails, and the longer I put off sending my response the more guilty I get.  I have mounting anxiety over not sending the email to the point where I feel I have to "redeem myself" by profusely apologizing for my tardiness, and then that takes longer to determine how I should express my regretfulness.

Instead, I've been trying to give thanks instead of being so self deprecating; "Thank you for your patience with my response."

It's that easy. And way less of a weight on me afterwards, wondering if the recipient must hate me for not getting back to them sooner.  sigh. 

So hopefully I can make this a better practice in the future. 


5.  Being Mindful and Intentional

I am trying to be mindful and intentional with a lot of aspects of my life, including my time, my work, what I buy and what I eat.  

I am trying to make sure each day has purpose and that I am doing something today that will definitely make me feel better tomorrow and in the long term.

I am trying to be in the moment as well, and do more things like go outside or have an unplugged candlelit dinner. 

6.  Be OK with Being Happy & Choose Happiness

Life can get pretty grim if you allow yourself to feed into negative energy.  It can feel good to vent and complain sometimes, but once you've let it out, let it go. 

Choose to be happy in the face of negativity.  There is always another way to look at a problem, and there is always another person whose shoes you should put yourself in.  

And finally, I mean this one to mean, once you've decided to pursue Slow Living, embrace it and don't allow yourself to feel guilty about it or that you are lazy for choosing a non-busy life.  Give yourself the time to love your life and live your life.  Work to live, don't live to work.  Don't let work obsessed people make you feel like you are doing anything but what is right for you.

"Stress is self created; I decided to stop manufacturing it"

— Brendan Burchard

Until Next Time, 

- The Lovely Red Fox

No comments:

Post a Comment