Slow living is all about taking time to slow down and experience all the moments our lives have to offer. To enjoy better health, better relationships and an over-all better quality of life. I’m always on the lookout for ideas and ways to incorporate moments of slowness into my day. Enter daily slow living routines.
My life and energy levels were all over the place until I started incorporating routines. Daily routines help us stay grounded and connected to our values and purpose. They reduce stress and in my opinion, make us happier and more mindful.
Today, I’m sharing 45 of the best slow living routines I’ve found for relaxation, inspiration, motivation and well-being in our busy modern lives. No matter what time of day, I’ve got you covered. From morning, noon to bedtime – let’s dive in.
Slow Living: Morning Routines
1.) Do Some Deep Breathing
Upon waking have some quiet time for several minutes and practice deep breathing to slowly bring awareness to your body and center yourself for the day.
2.) Clear Your Mind With Writing
Write in a journal or try morning pages from Julia Cameron’s, The Artist Way. It’s 3 pages of stream of conscious writing 1st thing in the morning to clear your mind for the day ahead.
3.) Let the Sunshine In
Open the curtains and shades to let the natural light shine in. It aids in a positive mood and signals the body’s Circadian system.
4.) Avoid Your Phone Like the Plague
Avoid your phone, like your sanity (and life) depends on it. Smartphones have no place in a slow morning. Avoid it at all cost, at least 1st thing in the morning.
5.) Tidy Up
While the thought of tidying may seem like the opposite of slow, it will give you a sense of accomplishment as well as a clean space to relax in later in the day. So make your bed and spend 10 or so minutes cleaning and tidying up.
6.) Get Physical
Do something physical like stretching or taking a short walk to get your body moving and the blood flowing. Not only is it rejuvenating, but it is also a great time for contemplation.
7.) Get Inspired by Reading
Read, but be super selective with what you read. Choose something inspirational or motivation. Keep the news and other forms of media that may be negative for another time of day.
8.) Care for Your Houseplants
Say good morning to all your house plants and give them a drink of water. The simple act of taking care of plants can be deeply satisfying and rewarding.
9.) Do Absolutely Nothing
Follow the World Institute of Slowness’ advice and spend at least 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing to spark your creativity for the day.
10.) Meditate and De-stress
Practice meditation for 20-30 minutes to focus, gain clarity and get your day off to a calm, stress free start.
Slow Living: Breakfast Routines
1.) Drink Water
Hydrate before having your breakfast or drinking coffee or tea. Start with a a nice big 8-16oz glass of cold water or a glass of warm water with a splash of lemon juice. Your body is slightly dehydrated when you first wake up, drinking water will rehydrate your body and get it ready for digestion.
2.) Eat Something Local
Consider breakfast when shopping for groceries. Explore local farmers markets or local organic bakeries for fresh laid eggs, nutritious fruits, berries and made from scratch breads and jams you can incorporate into your slow morning meals.
3.) Try Overnight Oats or Porridge
While this tip technically starts in the evening, waking up to a delicious ready to eat breakfast of hearty overnight oats or porridge is a wonderful slow morning treat. They are also so easy to make. Try one of these recipes from Feel Good Foodie to get you started.
4.) Sit to Eat Breakfast and Take Time to Linger
Take a cue from the word slow and take the time to sit and linger over your morning meal. This may mean carving out some extra time in the morning by getting up a little earlier. However, it is worth the extra effort. You don’t want to be rushing and running out the door only to visit a drive-through, or skipping breakfast all together.
5.) Drink Slow Coffee
Ditch the Keurig and other coffee machines and give pour over or french press coffee a try. It takes a little longer to prepare, but your efforts will be greatly rewarded by a smooth rich steaming cup of delicious coffee goodness to sip and savor slowly.
6.) Create a Breakfast Tradition
Muffin Monday, Omelette Tuesday, Waffle Wednesday, you get the idea. Not only can having a breakfast meal plan be fun, but over time it makes breakfast easier as it becomes more routine and something you look forward to.
7.) No Distractions, Just Breakfast
Fight the urge to tune into Youtube, the news or other distractions while eating breakfast. If you must have something on, opt for for some inspirational music like classical, new age, gospel or another genre depending on your taste.
8.) Make Breakfast Social
Part of slow living is devoting more time to building connections with others. So why not enjoy your morning meal with a friend? It can be hard to find time to socialize with close friends and meeting up for breakfast, even just once a week, can be a great way to stay connected.
Slow Living: Lunch Routines
1.) Have Lunch at the Same Time Each Day
Studies have shown that it’s not just light and sleep that affect our circadian rhythms. Eating times that are all over the place can also wreak havoc on our well-being time-clock. Try designating a set time for lunch and sticking to it. This simple act was shown to improve BMI and regulate blood pressure.
2.) Eat Lunch Outside
Whether you work in an office or from home, get outdoors for lunch. Eating your lunch outdoors is a great way to disconnect from what you’ve been working on during the morning and refresh in the outside air while you refuel. It is also one of the simplest lunch routines to implement. You’ve got to eat – just take it outside.
3.) Take a Walk
Numerous studies have shown that taking a short walk during your lunch break benefits not only your physical health, but also makes you feel more positive, reduces stress and increases your productivity and enthusiasm. Whether you work from home, in an office, or other setting – get up from behind your desk and take a 15-30min stroll.
4.) Visit a Park
Feeling lonely or a little blue? Seek out some green space to feel better. A report from the National Park and Recreation Association found that spending time in a park makes you feel socially supported, improves your mood and even helps you recover from illnesses more quickly.
5.) Enjoy a Short Nap
Try “inemuri” the Japanese word for strategically sleeping on the job. Find a place without noise or distraction you can lie down to enjoy a 10 to 20 minute nap. It will revive you and improve your alertness. Keep a sleep mask and earplugs in your desk if finding a dark quiet place is an issue.
6.) Write in a Reflective Journal
Journaling is a wonderful exercise for slowing down and practicing mindfulness. Reflective journaling is a method of writing down an intention, goal or idea and then reflecting on it through writing. Try starting the week off by writing down one of your intentions or goals, then reflect and write your observations and progress the remaining days of the week.
7.) Go on Lunch Dates
A lunch date can be of the romantic kind, but it can also be a great time to catch up with a friend. Try setting a day each week that you meet up with your significant other or a close friend and enjoy lunch together.
8.) Knit or Crochet
Learning to knit or crochet can be a great way to experience the slow fashion movement first hand. It’s not that difficult to learn and before long you’ll be creating your own scarves and other snuggly items. However, most importantly you’ll be getting some of the same benefits as meditation at the same time. Knitting has been found to reduce stress, anxiety, improve cognitive ability and many other healthful benefits.
Pick up a coloring book and some color pencils or markers and relieve stress, exercise your mind, increase your positivity, practice mindfulness, and improve your focus. Surprisingly this is just a small list of the benefits of coloring for adults.
I personally love this one and it is one of my favorite things my friends and I do when we get together, but it is just as rewarding when enjoyed alone. If you haven’t colored in years, lunchtime is the perfect time to pick up this childhood pastime.
Slow Living: Afternoon Routines
1.) Take a Siesta
You probably don’t have time to take a few hours off in the afternoon which is what a siesta is in the traditional sense, but taking a short break in the afternoon even for a quick power nap can be just the refresher you need.
2.) Enjoy an Afternoon Snack Break
Who says midday snacks are just for kids? Eating a healthy snack not only helps hold you over to dinner, but if you make it high in protein it will also boost your concentration and increase your alertness. Perfect for combating the afternoon slump.
3.) Work on Mindless Tasks
Studies have shown that we aren’t as alert after working on tasks requiring lots of concentration and focus. Saving mindless tasks like organizing papers, clearing off you desk and cleaning up your inbox to the afternoon can be a great way to give your brain a break.
4.) Take a “Pocket Vacation”
Coined by Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network, a pocket vacation is a short 5 minute walk outdoors which produces an immediate release of cortisol and stress relieving hormones. On days when even a 5 minute walk is too much, find a sunny window and take in the view for a minute or two.
Everyone can benefit from stretching in the afternoon, however if you sit at a desk all day this one is probably the most important routine on this list. A quick 5 minutes of stretching will not only increase your flexibility and posture, but will also help to reverse the effects of sitting and staring at a screen.
6.) Do 10 Minutes of Yoga
If you have the space and a little more time, opt for a 10 minute yoga routine in addition to or in place of stretching. Practicing yoga teaches you to breathe deeply which sends much needed oxygen to your brain. A happy midday brain is a refreshed brain. And your body will feel pretty good too.
7.) Take Afternoon Tea
You don’t have to be British to enjoy afternoon tea. It doesn’t have to be a fancy affair either just a great cup of tea and a light snack will do. Afternoon tea originated in 1840s Britain as a way to tide one over to evening dinner. Smart Brits. We can all use a little sip and nibble to get us through the afternoon hunger craving.
8.) Afternoon Social
We don’t always have the time to meet up with a friend during breakfast or lunch, but taking just a moment in the afternoon to give them a short call can be a great way to stay connected. Let them know you are just checking in and aim to be 100% present and a good listener.
Slow Living: Evening Routines
1.) Enjoy Evening Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has the ability to relieve anxiety, depression, headaches, induce sleep and many other healthful benefits. Try using an essential oil diffuser or lighting a candle scented with essential oils in the evening. The flickering light helps ease and soothe the mind and the diffused oils will fill your space with healing aroma.
2.) Tidy and Prepare for Tomorrow
Turn tidying into a mindfulness practice. Over time you’ll learn to find enjoyment in taking care of your things and your living space. And who doesn’t want to wake up to clean dishes and a tidy space so you can start completely fresh in the morning?
3.) Drink an Herbal Tea
My nightly tea ritual is one of my favorite evening routines. It is one of the first things I do to signal to my body that I’m getting ready for bed. Drinking tea before bed can soothe your soul, relax your mind and prepare your body for restful sleep. Just make sure you avoid black tea, green tea and other teas containing caffeine. Choose an herbal variety and look for blends with natural ingredients that help relax and de-stress. Peppermint is one of my favorites.
4.) Go Device and Screen Free Before Bed
Avoid all screens and devices an hour or two before bed. Watching TV, scrolling through social media and other screen-time activities release dopamine which is stimulating to our brains. Before bed you want to adopt activities that quiet your mind. So skip the screens altogether.
5.) Take an Epsom Salt Bath
A warm soothing bath not only detoxifies the body, but it also calms the mind. Additionally it relaxes your muscles and prepares your body for rest. The addition of 1-2 cups epsom salt helps your body release toxins (due to the magnesium) and relieves aches and pains.
6.) Or, Practice Cold Therapy
Quite the opposite of a warm soak, icy cold baths or showers have been shown to decrease inflammation, improve nervous system function and help you recover from injuries quicker. Also folks who practice cold-therapy swear by it ability to boost your mood, put your body into a state of euphoria and improve quality of sleep. I’ve yet to personally try this one, but it is high on my list.
7.) Read a Chapter in a Book
While watching TV, playing online games and engaging in social media stimulate and release dopamine, reading before bed has been proven to reduce cortisol levels which reduces stress and helps your sleep more soundly. A nightly reading ritual also helps you wind down and signal your body it is time to sleep.
8.) Write Down Your 3 MITS
Practiced by Zen Habits, Leo Babauta and other simple living gurus, MITS are your “Most Important Tasks”. Leo describes them as the 3 things you want to be sure of doing the next day. Waking up knowing your most important priorities for the day helps you awake less stressed and move through your day with purpose.
9.) Stick to a Regular Bedtime
Here comes that circadian rhythm asserting its authority again, and once again we should listen. Inconsistent bedtimes disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause metabolic disturbances that can lead to weight gain and low energy. Try setting a bedtime and sticking to it every night, including weekends.
10.) Make Your Bedroom Cold and Dark
Lastly, try sleeping in a cave. No, not really, but you do want to try and make your bedroom as cave like as possible at night by reducing the temperature and making it as dark as possible. Studies have shown that 60-67 degrees is the perfect sleep temperature to help your body naturally achieve the deep stages of sleep.
Additionally, even the tiniest slivers of light can disrupt the production of melatonin, our bodies natural sleep hormone. So turn down the thermostat or crack the windows on cool nights and invest in blackout curtains to turn your bedroom into a dreamy cave.
Well there you have it, 45 slow living daily routines. As with any change, either to your schedule or to the structure of your day, takes time. Studies show it take 2 months of repeatedly doing something for it to become a habit.
So start slow – pun totally intended. Start by choosing one or two of the routines listed here and give them a try. If they don’t work for you, choose one or two more, then rinse and repeat until you find a mix of routines that work for you.