After going to bed far too late, I woke up around 7 a.m., and before I even got dressed I was answering emails and putting out fires. By 1 p.m., I realized I hadn’t even gotten dressed or eaten yet, although I had worked steadily. I would take a short break to shower, get dressed and make my lunch, since it was too late for breakfast. I would go back to my computer and work nonstop until about 5 p.m. when I would take a short break. Then I would work again until around 7 p.m. when I would start to work on dinner. After dinner with my family, around 9 p.m., I would work til midnight.With no time to run errands my daughter did the grocery shopping. I had no time to see friends, and I barely spent time with my family on the weekends. This went on until one day I looked up and it was five years later, and I was five years older. I had turned down trips because I couldn’t fit them into my schedule. I had missed a lot of life because I was too busy.
Where had the time gone?
Like Martha Stewart, I was writing about a lifestyle I personally had no time to enjoy. I was exhausted. And then a friend, about my age, died suddenly. It was a wakeup call. Did I want to spend another five years working like this? Was I enjoying it? Could I sustain a life at this pace? Was I still excited to wake up every day?
It was time to take an honest look at my life. I knew I was headed toward burnout. I had to decide what to keep and what to toss from my crazy life. I had to stop working so much. I also knew I wanted to make a difference in the world, but I also wanted to enjoy my life, my family and my friends. I knew I needed to slow down, and that’s when I started hearing about ‘slow living.’
Slow living is about taking time to be in the moment and being conscious of where you are. It’s about not being on your phone all the time, not working all of the time, and not being distracted. Slow living means taking time to spend with your friends, and when you are with your friends, you are fully with them, not thinking about work or emails. It’s about removing busyness from your life. Are you doing something you don’t need to do and don’t really enjoy? Think about it. There are probably tons of things that fall into that category.
I know one of my purposes on earth is to help people create a beautiful home to enjoy. I know I’m here to be an advocate for my daughter and others who have Down Syndrome. When I am asked to volunteer in ways not consistent with my calling, I now say no. This is not a good use of my time. I only have so much bandwidth, and I need to use it on things I know I should be doing. I also create pockets of time to do chores that need to be done, so I am not rushing through them in a hurried pace. I actually enjoy ironing, so I make time for it. There’s something to be said for opening a drawer full of crisply ironed sheets.
Here are a few tips for a slow home.
Start with your bed
Since you spend a third of your life in bed, ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Is your mattress comfortable? How about your sheets? Is your room the right temperature? Have at least two sets of good quality sheets for your bed. I love linen sheets or hotel-quality cotton sheets. Make sure your pillow works for you. I prefer a good down-filled pillow with a satin pillow case. If you are a side sleeper you’ll want a more plump pillow than someone who sleeps on her back.
Clear out clutter
I can’t emphasize enough how much clutter can stress you. You aren’t going to enjoy slowing down in your home, if it’s full of clutter. You need to get it out so when you do spend time in your home, it’s relaxing and enjoyable. Start with the room you use the most. At a minimum, get that room decluttered so it’s not stressful to be in.
Be sure to have at least one space you can relax in. That means you have comfortable seating, a place to put your feet, and a place to set a drink. A light near the chair for reading. Make sure there aren’t stacks of unfolded laundry or other stacks of things in the room demanding your attention. If you have a half-finished project, store it somewhere else. It’s not relaxing to stare at a project that needs to be finished.
I love to use essential oils to provide a relaxing scent to a room. Avoid using candles made from petroleum products or artificial fragrances like room sprays. These toxic products are not good for your body. Natural essential oils can be very relaxing and much healthier to breathe. I love to use lavender oil for its calming properties.
Epsom salt baths
If you don’t use your tub, then you are missing out on one of the most relaxing things to do. A slow soak in Epsom salts can be very relaxing. A bath in warm water is going to be pleasant on its own, but paired with Epsom salts, it’s even more relaxing. Epsom salts baths are full of magnesium, which has a calming effect. To make it even more relaxing, try adding beeswax candles or your essential oil diffuser to the room.
A slow home will look different for different people, but the essence remains the same – intentional living without the mindless busyness. Your home should be a place you can’t wait to return to. If you find yourself avoiding your house, then it’s time to make some changes.
By Anita Joyce