Updated: Aug 1
I think that everybody should have a cozy hobby. I used to put every penny and every thought in my head towards the next trip, the next time I would get away. And living for the four weeks of vacation time I get a year was no way to live at all. And I also found that just practicing self-care wasn't the cure for cabin fever that I needed. Because self-care isn't really a hobby, right? Self care happens to you. You get your nails done, you give yourself a bath. Hobbies are things you complete. You start a new book, you make progress in a video game, you finish a hike, you finish gardening for the day. Slow living means investing time in yourself and giving purpose to every day.
There are two parts to creating a slow living lifestyle: 1. creating time for yourself to try relaxing hobbies, and 2. reframing everyday activities as acts of self-love.
I intentionally said to try relaxing hobbies because there's a good chance you don't know what you like yet. And one common mistake people make when trying to create a routine is over-committing. If you want to try gardening this year, start with one pot and not an entire garden bed. If you want to see if you can get into reading, sign up for the free trial of Kindle Unlimited and read on your phone before you buy an E-reader. Slow living, to me, means gentle self-exploration. There's no shame in trying a hobby for a month and deciding it's not for you!
Reframing everyday activities as acts of self-love is also divided into two segments, mindset and environment. If you're feeling overwhelmed by keeping up with the everyday grind - doing the dishes, picking up the house, feeding yourself - there's a chance you will need some changes to both mindset and environment. Believe me, I've been there. First, let's talk about creating more time for yourself to slow down.
How to start creating more time for yourself:
Create a morning or evening routine. An easy way to see where you could fit a cozy hobby into your life is to write down your daily schedule. Your honest daily schedule. Do you scroll on your phone in bed for a half hour before you get up? Or sit on the couch after dinner and watch tv for two hours before bed? Even though a cozy hobby like reading or playing a game on the Nintendo Switch is relaxing, it's still intentional. You will need to create intentional time for it during the day. It doesn't matter whether you wake up a half hour earlier in the morning or commit to stop scrolling on your phone for that hour before bed. Just commit to trying one thing throughout the day and build off of that. It's taken me six months to formulate a routine that works for me. Be patient with yourself.
Learn to say no. Creating boundaries is by far the hardest task that I'm including in this cozy living outline. It's hard enough to carve out some time for ourselves during the week, and it's even harder o turn down family or friends that need attention from us. But it's true that you can't pour from an empty cup. If you think that starting a slow living practice will help you show up as the best version of yourself, then it's worth setting those boundaries and saying no to plans. My easy tip for setting a boundary is to decide what time of the week you want to commit to spending time on your cozy hobbies, and try to work around that. If you decide that every Friday night you want to cook yourself a fancy meal at home and read, plan around that. Plan to see your friends or family on a different day that weekend. If you want to try romanticizing your meals, this cookbook functions as both a cozy recipe cookbook and as an adult coloring book.
Try new things by yourself. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's not your partner's or your best friend's responsibility to go do everything that you want to do. I think a lot of us have a misconception that having a partner means that we never have to do anything alone ever aain. We'll always have someone to go to the farmer's market with us or to museums with us. But our partners and our friends are human too, and they need time to themselves so they can show up as the best version of themselves for us. But if you learn to do the things you love by yourself, you will never be lonely. If your partner is having his or her down time, or out with their family or friends, use that opportunity to do something by yourself! It's an excellent way to practice self-exploration and learn to enjoy your own company.
Reframing everyday activities as acts of self-love. So you downloaded some cozy games to play and decided to take up gardening. Is that all there is to slow living? Nope, slow living is about being intentional with everything you do. Finding peace and happiness in vacuuming and your morning commute to work isn't easy, and I'm not claiming that it's easy. It requires a change in both your environment and your mindset. I've included some examples from my own healing journey this year to show you how you can learn to treat everyday chores as acts of self-love:
Practice gratitude. I know you've heard this one before. And all the times I heard it before, I thought it seemed ridiculous. And when my mental health was at rock bottom and I started my gratitude practice, I remember turning to my partner Cole mid-breakdown and crying, 'How is journaling for ten minutes a day supposed to make me feel any different?' Oof. I'm sharing a vulnerable moment to tell you that gratitude does work. You don't feel it right away. But if you commit to practicing gratitude every day, you will notice a change in your mindset a couple months down the road. Instead of dreading doing the dishes and procrastinating until my kitchen is a mess, I do the dishes every night before bed. And I'm grateful to have a beautiful house that I've made a home. I'm grateful because I know I'll be in a slightly better mood tomorrow morning with a clean kitchen. Practicing gratitude and journaling did NOT come naturally to me. Having a guided journal was honestly a huge help. I love this Rupi Kaur hardback guided journal and her writing prompts for gratitude.
Change your environment. Multiple studies have shown that your physical environment does really impact your mental health. A cluttered home can increase your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Even without a scientific study, I think a lot of us can relate to that calm and satisfied feeling after deep cleaning our space and lighting a candle to seal in the good vibes. Despite this, I used to I feel super overwhelmed by the thought of having to clean every day. So, I started timing myself. After timing how long it takes me to lightly clean the house, I realized it only takes me about thirty minutes to do the dishes, clean the litter boxes, pick up around the house and vacuum. Once I bridged that gap between how I feel (I feel like I'm cleaning all the time), and what was actually happening (it takes me thirty minutes to lightly clean the house), that stress was gone and I now enjoy keeping a tidy space. If you are in a living situation where you can't control the level of clutter, like having small children or having roommates, just focus on having a personal space that you keep intentionally clean and cozy. I'm also a huge fan of investing in small, cozy items that will help you fall in love with your space without it feeling cluttered. I suggest creating a mood board on Pinterest with cozy spaces that you find inspiring and go from there!
Use the "one cozy thing" rule. I should probably come up with a better name for this, but what I'm calling the "one cozy thing" rule is the KEY to turning everyday menial tasks into acts of self-love. A lot of our daily tasks happen on auto-pilot. We get up, make our coffee, and get ready for the workday without putting much thought into it. Well, what if you did? The real work of slow living is to put intention into everything you do. My challenge for you is to add one cozy element to every part of your day. If you're about to sit down with your coffee, grab your favorite blanket and light a candle, even if it's just for the 5 minutes you'll spend drinkingyour coffee. If you're going to clean and do dishes, make yourself a dirty chai and put on a podcast. If you're about to make dinner for your family, put on an evening playlist and make a mocktail. These little moments where you add "one cozy thing" to a regular task defines slow living, and it'll make a huge difference in your daily life if you let it.
If you've finished reading this outline for slow living and you're thinking, "There's no way I can commit to all this," my recommendation is to read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. He does a much better job explaining how to create time in the day when it feels like there is none. And lastly, remember that you're worth it. You're worth burning your candles more often and buying a new journal or a new Kindle. You're worth taking an entire hour in the morning to color in your adult coloring book or play Animal Crossing before everyone else in the house wakes up. If it will help you show up as the best version of yourself every day, it's worth it.
I feel like there is still so much more I could say about slow living. If you try any of my tips or have any questions, let me know on Instagram @sarahscozylife!