Last Updated on September 20, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
What does slow living, staying balanced, and the habits of centenarians have in common?
Everything! If you read Dan Buettner’s books about The Blue Zones you’ll start to see many parallels to the slow living movement.
In this podcast episode, I wanted to draw your attention to habits that help you stay balanced. In addition, I’ll share ways to look at “slow living” that go beyond achieving a certain aesthetic. (Because if you search for slow living hashtags on Instagram you might think the only way to participate is to bake bread and wear cottage core.)
Below you’ll find the transcripts of this episode, then the table of contents for the following post. Originally a post I wrote in 2019 about the importance of staying balanced. I’ve combined these because to practice slow living is to seek balance and enjoy life.
In fact, they have so much in common, I noticed that what most people consider “slow living” habits are the practices of the longest lived people on earth. Those who live in the blue zones.
Lastly, you’ll find a list of resources to help you in your pursuit of balance, via the slow living movement.
[00:00:00] Announcer: Welcome to a healthy bite. You’re one nibble closer to a more satisfying way of life, a healthier you and bite size bits of healthy motivation. Now let’s dig in on the dish with Rebecca Huff.
[00:00:18] Rebecca: In today’s episode, I’m going to get a bit more personal than I usually do, and share a bit about what I’ve been doing lately for the last year or two to heal from the constant feeling of being busy and being overwhelmed. And also how I gave myself permission to stop being super mom or at least to stop trying to be super mom and how I’ve learned to live a bit more in the green zone instead of always being busy, busy, busy, and also I’m going to cover a bit about the trending topic of slow living and what it means and whether or not it’s just another self-improvement trend, bandwagon that you may or may not want to hop on.
[00:01:05] Years ago I wrote a blog post encouraging myself and others to try to stay more balanced. This is something that professionals have been recommending for years. My doctor has recommended that I try to stay more in the green zone. In the past, my chiropractor and others had given me heart rate variability tests that show whether you’re in the flight or fight mode, or whether you are more balanced and kind of in the green zone.
[00:01:35] Even when you look at the chart there’s red, yellow, and green and doctors had recommended for years that I try to stay more out of that red and yellow zone and get myself into the green zone more often. Does any of this resonate with you?
[00:01:51] If you’re a mom and you have one or more children, I am certain that there are probably things that I’m gonna talk about that you can relate to. But this post that I wrote was as much to myself as to anyone. And it was meant to encourage and remind me to stay balanced. This is especially important for other all or nothing types like myself.
[00:02:14] Back during the pandemic when people were. Basically forced to stay home, an old concept became a new trend and that is slow living.
[00:02:25] I, I say old concept because anyone who’s into organic food or buying local knows that this slow living movement started a long time ago, back in the eighties, when a group of activists defended a slower pace of life to include regional traditions, food made from local ingredients by real people with their own two hands; as opposed to Franken foods made by machines and automated processes.
[00:02:57] The slow food and slow living movement recognizes those connections between people, cultures, the foods we grow and eat, as well as the planet and politics.
[00:03:09] because people were stuck at home, many began to bake their own breads or snacks and pick up other hobbies, like cooking, sewing, and DIY type projects.
[00:03:21] And it made sense. People had more time on their hands, even those who are working from home had more time because they no longer had to commute or do all of the things required when you leave home to work. I was working at home before the pandemic and continued to do so throughout and after it was pretty much over.
[00:03:45] I was also continuing to keep up with my website and my children who were still living at home. and of course, I also felt the need to cook every meal from scratch and do all of the housework myself. So I was basically burning the candle at both ends doing everything myself, because that’s what supermoms do.
[00:04:08] In this state of trying to do everything and get it all done. I was one day pretty much flying down the interstate in my fast car. When my daughter said to me that she wished we weren’t always rushing and that we weren’t always so busy all the time. Now I’m not repeating what she said verbatim, but this was basically what she was communicating to me is that it felt like we were always rushing and it felt like we were always in a hurry and that she seemed a bit nostalgic about those people who were able to live a slower paced life. And this really was an eye opening conversation that I had with my daughter. And I realized at the time I was speeding down the highway to something that there was no need for me to be in a hurry about.
[00:04:56] And this was the pace of my life. Pretty much 24 7. I was always in a hurry. I was always busy doing things and had long checklists, long todo lists, not everything on there was something that I necessarily had to do, but it all felt urgent.
[00:05:13] That conversation stuck with me for a while. And even though my boss was pretty laid back and very family oriented, I felt like. I was dividing my time between too many things. So I turned in my notice
[00:05:27] and went back to focusing on my family full time. Just giving up my full-time job, wasn’t really all it took for me to slow down because I have always tried to do it all and prove my worth by being as much of a superwoman as I possibly could.
[00:05:45] We do tend to carry over these childhood stories or the messages that we were basically programmed with as a child, into our adulthood. And sometimes the messages that do not serve us well, take a bit of time to unravel or erase. So slowing down and doing nothing at times, didn’t exactly fit into my model of being a successful person.
[00:06:10] I was typically burning the candle at both ends and doing as much as I possibly could, rarely taking a break and sitting still, was something I felt ashamed of.
[00:06:21] But after my daughter had brought up that she wished we weren’t always so busy. I spent some time thinking about what I was doing with my life and what I spent my time doing every day.
[00:06:33] And it probably doesn’t help matters that my husband is also a type, a personality, very driven, very successful and legit, the most positive person I know the words give up are not in his vocabulary. He wins at everything and he accomplishes it all.
[00:06:50] Anyhow, I realized that I was not only burnout, but I was potentially raising children who felt the need to stay burnout. Staying balanced is what professionals had been recommending to me for years.
[00:07:03] And while at times I had picked up habits that were practicing the art of staying balance, none of it had ever really stuck.
[00:07:13] So I started looking for other ways to slow down ways that would be lasting and sustainable. This idea of staying balanced and practicing slow living also seemed to parallel a book I had been studying for several years, and that is Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. And in it, he lists out the power of nine lifestyle habits that the world’s healthiest and longest lived people tend to practice in those regions.
[00:07:45] And I found it interesting that these habits were very similar to recommendations for slow living, and also for staying balanced. So while slow living is a trending topic, you’ll know that for sure if you search for the hashtag on Instagram. The slow living movement doesn’t have to be an aesthetic.
[00:08:07] It doesn’t have to be perfectly baked sourdough bread. It has to become a way of life to actually stick, and my idea was to practice things that I felt were sustainable for me.
[00:08:23] So looking at the parallel between slow living, staying balanced. And these healthy habits. I didn’t want to add things to my plate that would make me feel like I was moving down a checklist.
[00:08:37] I didn’t want slow living to become one more self-improvement project. I wanted to incorporate habits that would be long lasting. One of the power of nine habits that I feel like meshes well with a slow living movement is to move naturally. The world’s longest living people don’t, you know, go to the gym daily or pump iron or even run marathons.
[00:09:07] What they actually do is that they live in a way that constantly requires movement without them thinking about it. Growing gardens or working in flower beds and doing things at home that requires movement.
[00:09:22] And you don’t have to grow a garden to practice this type of movement.
[00:09:27] You can simply go for a walk. Even in most cities, you can find green ways where you can take a hour long walk outdoors to reduce activity in your brain that may be linked to repetitive negative thoughts you may be having or just any kind of thoughts about how you’re super busy and feeling overwhelmed and have too much to do.
[00:09:50] Taking a walk in nature is a great way to get in some physical activity and also to slow down. You don’t have to do a power walk to reap the benefits of walking. You can walk at a slow pace, and being outside in nature is also a great way to stay balanced. And if you have a pet that requires walking, you’re probably already doing that and maybe you just need to slow down a little bit while you’re moving naturally.
[00:10:16] Other points in the power of nine, including finding your purpose, the Okinawans call it Ikigai. there’s other names for it, depending on which culture you’re looking at in the blue zones, but basically knowing why you wake up in the morning, knowing your sense of purpose actually adds years to your life expectancy.
[00:10:38] Another point that is made in the blue zones book is to downshift and reduce stress; because stress leads to imp chronic inflammation, and that is associated with pretty much every major age related disease out.
[00:10:58] The world’s longest lived people have routines that allow them to release that stress. For example, Okinawans, uh, take time each day to remember their ancestors or the Adventist pray. Others take naps and some do happy hour. So whatever it means to you to downshift. For me, I like to spend time knitting; to me the repetitive movement and the ability to create something out of yarn is relaxing.
[00:11:33] And I do this at the end of every day. I sit down for at least 30 minutes to knit and I don’t do this with the goal of creating something or put pressure on myself to create something that’s perfect. It’s just the act of actually doing it. And I find the repetitive movements to be very therapeutic.
[00:11:56] Another point that the slow movement, staying balanced, and the longest lived people on earth have in common is the 80% rule, which is to remind yourself, to stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. And the best way to do that is to slow down while you’re eating. A lot of times we grab food on the go and eat it in a hurry and we just eat so quickly that our body isn’t able to recognize the signal saying, Hey, it’s time to stop eating.
[00:12:28] And so then we tend to eat a bit too much and we feel tired and it’s kind of a vicious circle. But when you slow down, while you’re eating a meal, you’re able to leave that 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full.
[00:12:43] And this can also even lead to weight loss. When you become more mindful of your eating and become present
[00:12:50] It’s better for your digestion as well as your waistline. And for slow living and staying balanced, those meals would include foods that are in their whole state. Would include foods that are slow , and you can think of an acronym for slow that helps you to remember: S is for sustainable. L is for local. O is for organic and w is for whole.
[00:13:18] So when you’re eating or preparing your meals, think of the word, slow, sustainable, local, organic, and whole, and that will help you not only to slow down while you are eating, but also in the choices you make. And this goes back to one of the power of nine points and that is beans.
[00:13:39] Beans are the cornerstone of many centenarian diets whereas meat is used as more of a flavor enhancer or a side dish. Serving, staying small about three to four ounces or about the size of a deck of cards. And this is a way that you can practice eating a healthier diet where you still include meat, but you eat a smaller portion of it.
[00:14:07] Interestingly, another point that I found is a parallel between slow living, staying balanced, and longevity habits is to make time for relationships. It’s not uncommon, during stressful times that people might feel the need to avoid socializing, but this is actually the time we need to reach out more to the people that we love and the people in our community, because your social support system can help you cope with life’s problems. So even if you don’t feel like socializing, it can be very beneficial, help you stay balanced and potentially live a longer lifespan to stay in touch with your community. Research showed that attending faith-based services four times a month adds four to 14 years of life expectancy and part of that included people who put their families first. And that’s one of the key aspects of slow living is to slow down and take the time to work on relationships and the people who are in your life that you care about and love. And this brings me back to the conversation I had with my daughter.
[00:15:22] How much of my day was spent rushing around, trying to check things off of my to-do list, rather than investing time in my children and things that would be important to them in years to come.
[00:15:35] Now, I’m not saying that I neglected my children or that any other mom does, but we simply get busy.
[00:15:41] And sometimes my kids would be talking to me and I wouldn’t even be fully present. And I won’t say that I have perfected this art. It’s something that I still need to practice. And I try practicing when my children talk to me to set down my phone, stop looking at my phone or pause what I’m doing and just make a eye contact with them and put them first in what they want to communicate to me.
[00:16:07] so after I’d had a while to process a lot of the thoughts I was having about staying balanced and making that connection between slow living and longevity habits and staying balanced.
[00:16:21] . I wanted to work on this habit of staying balanced or practicing slow living in a way that would actually stick and not just be a to-do list or another self-improvement project.
[00:16:34] So it was really important to me to be aware and be realistic when it came to creating these habits or any new goals that I set for myself because I, and probably a lot of you, tend to have high expectations and standards that are often nearly impossible to reach.
[00:16:57] I wanted to keep it simple and sustainable and make it something that I would actually follow through with and not end up feeling discouraged because I had set the bar too high.
[00:17:10] So how do I practice slow living. Well, it’s a lot easier than you might think? Again, I put a lot of focus on those healthy habits that I had already been interested in: spending time with community slowing down when I eat, cooking foods from scratch.
[00:17:27] But if this isn’t something that appeals to you, it doesn’t have to be part of your goals or your practice of slow living. Slow living is heavily influenced by principles of simplification or minimalism. And these thoughts and ideas have been around for ages.
[00:17:47] The goal is not to start baking sourdough bread, if you don’t enjoy that process, the goal is small, but consistent habits that take you out of the fast lane and allows you to fully embrace your life and live it out according to the purpose that you feel for your life.
[00:18:10] so I wanted to list a few suggestions, but like I said, slow living will be different for everyone instead of adopting my habits for slow living or staying balanced. Think about what’s important to you, and make a list for yourself.
[00:18:26] I always recommend making a list of what you currently do in your day and making another list of what you would ideally do in your perfect day. But here are a few suggestions that you might use to get started thinking about how to move out of that fast lane and into the slow living or more balanced lane of life.
[00:18:49] Set a beautiful table and eat at the table, mindfully paying attention to the flavor and texture, color of your food. Think about unplugging more frequently. This is a piece of advice that you’ll hear quite often in self-improvement books, and that’s because it’s a really good idea to unplug. Even if you only leave your phone behind while you take a walk, or when you have your coffee outside on the deck in the morning, or turn it off while you’re reading a book. It’s just a simple way to start unplugging and doing things without being distracted for a short period of time.
[00:19:28] Another way is to say no to things that you don’t really enjoy. It’s time to stop feeling guilty for not doing things you don’t want to do.
[00:19:40] And along with that, I would say to try to stop multitasking. This is something that a lot of us do. I appreciate efficiency as much as anyone. However, it is not very efficient to try multitasking instead work in chunks of time and on single tasks.
[00:19:59] For me this meant instead of setting project goals, I began setting time goals. Instead of working on a project until it is complete. I had decided to start designating a period of time to work on the project. And if that was three hours that I was willing to dedicate to that project today, then so be it,
[00:20:21] If you have project based goals that you have to complete for your job or for your child’s school or whatever, there are times when obviously you will have to spend the time to complete something.
[00:20:35] But when possible it is helpful to start setting goals a little bit differently. And you can look forward to a lot of improvements when you practice staying balanced or slow living. And they include having more time, because you’ll only be saying yes to the things that matter most to you. Less stress, because you’ll be living more mindfully.
[00:20:56] And this alleviates a lot of the stressors in life. and then of course you’ll be healthier because having stress and anxiety leads to more disease and illness.
[00:21:08] And of course the focus of slow living is all about letting more moments of joy and happiness into your life and prioritizing what is most important in your life.
[00:21:19] Which for me meant prioritizing things in the right order. Meaning when my child feels overwhelmed and stressed out because I’m rushing, I know it’s time to slow down.
[00:21:32] Instead of a frantic lifestyle where every moment is jam packed with as much activity as possible, slow living is a more authentic life, being truer to one’s self, while allowing yourself to experience joy and happiness, and doing things that initially may feel pointless.
[00:21:52] It may feel as though you’re wasting your time, but you’re actually giving your mind and your body a much needed break. If you’re looking for more tips on finding that middle ground to stay balanced or practice, slow living. Go to thatorganicmom.com/stay-balanced. Thanks for listening.
[00:22:18] Announcer: Thanks for listening, please rate and review so other people can learn about this podcast. Find out more about sleep hygiene, eating healthy, tasty recipes, zero waste lifestyle, and lots more on that organic mom.com. Help us spread the word. Be blessed and stay healthy.
Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- You Must Learn to Be More Balanced
- Balance Work With Periods of Rest
- Maintaining a Balanced Life = Slow Living
- Finding Middle Ground
- Slow Living Practices That Help You Find Balance:
- Plan To Stay Balanced For The Long Haul
- Community for Staying Balance and Living Longer
- How to Practice Slow Living For A Recovering Busy Addict
- Resources for Slow Living and Maintaining Balance
- Keep your focus, keep your balance
You Must Learn to Be More Balanced
All my life, doctors have told me I need to stay balanced for the sake of my mental health. Being all-or-nothing is stressful and can hinder your well-being. But what is life balance and how do you apply it to the various areas of your life? What amount of time should we spend thinking about and working on this balancing act?
Like many others, I have struggled when it comes to finding balance. Whether I work full-time outside of my home or work all day caring for my loved ones, it was a struggle to practice self-care. Like many women, there were times when I experienced serious burnout.
Recently, in a conversation with my best friend, I likened “life balance” to walking a tightrope.
Do you know why it’s so hard to walk a tightrope?
Imagine trying to lower your body’s center of gravity while simultaneously increasing something called rotational inertia—effectively, positioning your body so that it fights against the wire’s tendency to rotate. It’s all about:
Balance Work With Periods of Rest
“You are on a rooftop, looking across empty air 1,350 feet above the ground. Your foot dangles over the ledge and touches a steel cable just centimeters wide. As you shift your body forward, hands gripped tight around a balancing pole, you find yourself suspended over a gut-wrenching void.” (Smithsonian Magazine)
Most of us would not likely step off that rooftop onto the wire, but like the tightrope walker, we must learn to keep a good balance. Just like a tightrope walker is less likely to fall if the bulk of their mass is closer to the wire, we improve our chances of success when we focus on our priorities.
So, what do you do with your day off? Do you clean the house? Catch up on laundry? Sleep all day? Work? Rest is an important part of your wellness routine, so make sure you are doing some things that are restful.
Maintaining a Balanced Life = Slow Living
I remember the first person who pointed out that I was “so all-or-nothing” as it was a new concept to me in my early twenties! Since that day numerous others have confirmed his statement, and I admit, it’s true.
So I strive for more balance in all things. It helps to imagine myself walking a tightrope when I lean too far in one direction, the result is unpleasant. When you find yourself leaning to one side in your own life, take a deep breath, and start focusing on mindfulness to bring you back into balance.
Living a well-balanced life is all about lowering stress through a positive outlook on life with a focus on creating good habits while eliminating not-so-good habits. This will look different for everyone. However; there are simple ways to keep the balance no matter what.
Finding Middle Ground
Of course, the first area I like to bring balance to is FOOD! I love everything about food. Making it, eating it, dreaming up new recipes, looking at cookbooks, trying new foods, and talking about food! If there’s one area I’ve struggled to maintain my balance in, it’s food! Excluding certain food groups, eating specific diets, I’ve done all those things. Lately, I just try to keep my eating balanced and not focus too much on the technical side.
A good way to stay balanced when it comes to healthy foods is to look for healthy recipes or explore healthy cookbooks. For me, a menu plan and grocery list is the best way to make sure that I am including plenty of vegetables and other healthy foods in our meals.
There are times when I realize I’ve missed the veggies in several meals in a row. That’s when I need to get back that balance in my diet. Maybe I’ll cut up some vegetables to put in the front of my fridge so I’ll be prepared when the craving for crunch hits.
Being too busy to eat right is an indication that you may need to cut back in another area. Utilize shopping services like Instacart and other curbside pickups. Add items to your cart as you run out during the week, then swing by on your way home from work or school and pick up your items in a jiffy!
Applying balance to your meals means that you eat “bad for you” foods in moderation. Many people choose to implement the 80/20 rule. This means that they eat “healthy” 80% of the time and the remaining 20% is for splurges.
Slow Living Practices That Help You Find Balance:
What is slow living? Many people may think of simple living or the minimalist lifestyle, but as I mentioned in the podcast episode it began with the slow food movement and morphed into people practicing ways to live a slower lifestyle.
- Have a hobby you enjoy just for the fun of doing it, mine is knitting, but you could watercolor, sketch, do woodworking, or whatever your heart desires.
- Exercise without going overboard. It’s true that too little exercise can lead to poor health, however, exercising too much can also be detrimental to your health. It’s all about balance and choosing a form of movement you enjoy.
- Rest – not sleep – just sit and stare at the moon, a lake, the stars or some bit of nature, let your mind go blank.
- Focus on one thing at a time – multitasking can lead to a feeling of overwhelm, not balance.
- Read inspiring books – both fiction and non-fiction.
- Keep a journal – write down your goals and thoughts.
- Be grateful – write down at least one thing you are thankful for every day, either on a calendar or in a journal, but somewhere you’ll be able to go back and review.
- Pray. When we pray we become more grounded in our faith and we are more able to keep the balance in all areas of our lives. Prayer makes you healthier, too.
- Relationships – spend time with your family and friends, when you are together, be present. Make it a point to put away phones, etc.
- Enjoy life’s small pleasures. It’s the little luxuries in life that make us feel rich! Nurture yourself so you can care for others.
- Say no when you need to. You don’t have to offer the reason why you are saying no.
- Learn about good sleep hygiene. Losing your balance when it comes to sleep can lead to a feeling of overwhelm, bad moods, and other health problems.
- Delete apps you don’t really need but contribute to busyness
- Consider decluttering your life and checking out of consumerism
Plan To Stay Balanced For The Long Haul
For balance to benefit your life, you’ll need to be in it for the long haul. So making slow living habits sustainable is key.
As for me, it helps to make a list of what I’m trying to achieve, in other words, what is my priority? I take this list along with my planner and block out times for each of the things that I want to work on. For the most part multi-tasking isn’t a good idea, but let’s not rule it out entirely!
For example, you might opt to listen to books on your commute to redeem that time. In cases like this “multi-tasking” is beneficial. But talking on the phone while you’re signing a form your child brought home from school is probably not going to end well.
I want to work out and I can do that while my daughter is in her Taekwondo class. Sometimes I stay to watch her, but it’s a good use of this time for me to workout while she’s in class, so we don’t miss out on time spent together.
Eating healthy is a priority, so I block out enough time to prepare food myself, as well as additional time to clean up.
Adding these blocks of time to my planner is like making a commitment to my health and living a balanced life. Because it is written in my planner, I don’t usually let other things encroach upon that time I have set aside to do what’s most important to me.
Community for Staying Balance and Living Longer
The longest living people on earth build community. Whether it’s through church, the neighborhood, family, or friends for life, it is healthy to build a supportive community around yourself and your family.
Spend time with other people who are well-balanced and outgoing; positivity is contagious! Just a little time spent with your best friend can give you a serious energy boost. Good friendships are healthy. Don’t allow scrolling social media to take the place of spending time with friends face to face. Set goals for how often you’ll take time out of your busy schedule to do life more with other people.
A newbie to the tightrope will try to shift their weight forward to keep from falling, but this is a mistake. The tightrope instructor suggests the tightrope walker stand up straight but bend their knees. Likewise, we must pull ourselves upright, yet still, put forth some effort to stay balanced.
How to Practice Slow Living For A Recovering Busy Addict
I recently added this video in hopes of inspiring you to slow down and enjoy the sacred moments of your life, those are the every day things we tend to overlook.
The slow philosophy is not about doing everything in tortoise mode. It’s less about the speed and more about investing the right amount of time and attention in the problem so you solve it.Carl Honore
Resources for Slow Living and Maintaining Balance
You’ll find that you need very little to slow down in this fast-paced world. You likely have all you need to practice intentional living. Simply start noticing the little things that bring you joy in the present moment and step out of the rat race.
Embrace a slower approach to live by focusing on your physical health and implementing some of the longevity habits mentioned in the podcast.
You’ll find a more meaningful life is achievable when you simply decide to live one. Making the choice to live a simpler lifestyle is more about eliminating the unnecessary than gathering resources. Having said that, you may find the practice feels foreign and out of your comfort zone.
If so, you can focus on sustainability – producing less waste is a huge part of living a simpler life. Discover more about the slow living lifestyle.
The books below can be found at your local bookstore or library if you prefer not to use Amazon or my affiliate links. (But if you do use my links, thank you!)
- Slow Family Living
- The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner (and also his challenge book is nice)
- In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed
Keep your focus, keep your balance
When you are feeling out of balance, stop and ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing at that moment. Keeping the balance can be as simple as reviewing your priorities. If you struggle to understand why you keep feeling off balance, it can help to find a psychotherapist, either a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you.
Prayer can also help us to lead a balanced everyday life. Ask God to strip away anything that hinders us from our purpose in daily life. (Hebrews 12:1) Keep in mind that there is a time and place for everything and you’ll be well on your way to leading a balanced life.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV )