Life in the slow lane

Life in the slow lane

Life in the slow lane

Anu, a 35-year-old HR professional and mother of two is the epitome of perfection. She runs a home, manages a career and is basically a super woman who can do everything. But wait. Why is her blood pressure alarmingly high? Well the metro superwoman syndrome of wanting to be a perfect mother, wife and career woman keeps Anu hassled all the time, and she was constantly anxious about doing everything right. Rushing through a never ending to-do list had built up anxiety and heightened her stress levels. And soon, Anu really had to slow down for the sake of her health.

Sounds all too similar? Well, yes, this is a commonplace occurrence in our lives, as we are often running around to do more and pack a lot into a day. While things seem hunky-dory on the surface, it is time that we slow down and take a chill pill. Slow fashion, slow travel and slow foods are traditional, ancient, simple ideas that have always been followed in every country.

Here are some easy ways to slow down and allow yourself that 'me' time:

* Practice mindfulness and take some time off every two hours or every hour if possible. "Just take two minutes and focus on your breath, slow down and breathe deeply. Feel the oxygen filling up your lungs and body. You can even imagine breathing in gratitude, and exhaling doubt or whatever you want for that moment. Let's say you working on a project. You may breathe in creativity and breathe out resistance or old ways of thinking. If peace is what you want, breathe in peace and breathe out worry. It works like magic and I call it the two-minute wonder! Now you definitely deserve this time for yourself. Slowing down can actually help you perform better," explains Kalyani Kamble, a personal excellence coach.

* Practice visualisation and do this early in the morning. Many of us don't plan our day and tend to get stuck in a rut, often procrastinating and scrambling to make up for lost time. Make a clear mental note of things to be done. This way, you will feel less anxious about the tasks and can happily breeze through them.

* Likewise, it is important to enjoy your food. You need to make the effort to slow down on purpose and enjoy your meals bite by bite. Well, gobbling down food has done no good to anyone and you are probably overeating, as your mind cannot work at the speed at which your mouth is.

* Another key element is that you must consciously tell yourself not to run your life by clock. "Tune into your body's natural clock called the circadian rhythm and know when you are at your active best and schedule the tasks, which require more focus at that time. Take power breaks, listen to music, watch a motivational video or call up an old friend, your mother or anyone that makes you smile. Do little things that make you happy and do them more often, as you don't require time or money for these," says Kamble.

Slow fashion

Slow fashion is the practice of making and buying quality garments that are long lasting. It is important to live a sustainable life for the betterment of our planet. As we have realised the needs of the current ecological and economic situation and the role we have played in global warming, it's time we go back to the old slow ways of living a sustainable life, where we make less, consume less, pay well and treat our planet with respect.

"Slow fashion is nothing but sustainable practice of making a garment right from the yarn. From the way, the yarn is produced to the way the cloth is woven to the technique used to produce the garment and to the way it is sold to the consumer - all these are different aspects of slow fashion. This encourages fair wages, practical production schedules, honest pricing and hopefully a lower carbon footprint. Slow fashion is also about using more of natural cloth fibres. Artificial fibres are made of several chemicals, which may not be harmful to our bodies, but harm the environment. Slow fashion is about investing time, love and care in every stage of making cloth/garment. It's a labour of love by the weavers, dyers, embroidery karigars, designers, etc," says Deepa Mehta, founder, Queen of Hearts.

Slow fashion is also about how the buyer takes care of the product. Products of slow fashion look better with age if they are well taken care of. Makers and consumers of slow fashion are both aware of and sensitive to the impact of 'fast fashion'. They have knowledge of the craft, the process, the eventual pricing and longevity of the clothes they invest in.

Slow holidays

How often have you gone on a holiday that felt more tiring than relaxing? Well, the anxiety of packing the necessities and this urge to see it all, may rob the very purpose of going on a vacation, where you intend to relax and rejuvenate. Traditionally, many people have travelled across India in package tours covering a lot of ground, which is fine for adults, but not so great for kids. At present, the chance to slow things down when you travel could be exactly what you and your family need. Slow holidays can be enjoyed at a health retreat or in smaller cities. Slow travel is all about enjoying local culture and meeting people. Just being in the moment, without the urge to sight see all the time.

"This way, you will get to experience beautiful and unusual surroundings, with none of the hassles of being on the move. A holiday should relax, refresh and rejuvenate you, not frazzle you out. Stress is the number one cause for several health problems, and a holiday should allow you to detox, leave behind the trivial concerns and worries that keep the mind preoccupied. Just slow down and see what is around you," says Altaf Chapri, co-founder, managing director ABChapri Retreats.

Slow food

Food is gaining centre stage and people want to know the story associated with a produce. Slow food focuses on cuisine that stays true to the spirit of the land and needs to be preserved. Incidentally, Slow Food is also an organisation that was started in 1989 to preserve local food cultures and traditions. The slow food movement started with the intention of creating awareness about endangered local foods and culinary traditions. Slow food is aimed at improving the overall quality of food that is grown, cooked and served in the restaurants and hotels of the country. Chef Rajdeep Kapoor - president Slow Food Chefs Alliance and executive chef ITC Hotels says, "Our goal is to revive the interest of consumers and chefs, in the abundant diversity of Indian agricultural produce, wild natural plants, indigenous grains, traditional knowledge and cooking techniques."

Our grandparents ambled, our parents strolled, we scurry around like wired-up ants. Slow thinking often results in better decisions and you are more attentive when your thoughts are more focused, than when they are scattered. Remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "there is more to life than increasing its speed."  

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