Hope you all are having a lovely, slow Easter weekend. And speaking of taking it slow, I recently had a chat with London-based Beth Crane who runs Slow Living LDN; a Scandi inspired slow living & sustainable living lifestyle resource. She is helping us to discover London’s slow spots and giving us tips on how to live better, not faster, in the capital and beyond.
First of all, can you explain to us what slow living really means and why you think it is key to living a better life?
We live in an always-on, on-the-go society which often sees speed as synonymous with progress, and burnout as an indicator for success. We’re constantly connected via our smartphones and we’re always striving for newer and better. In this frantic atmosphere, we’re often making decisions in haste that can be detrimental to our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet. Yet, slow living isn’t about denying the ‘modern’, or living at a snail’s pace or becoming a digital luddite.
Slow living is about making conscious decisions with forethought about how those decisions affect us and the world around us. It’s about living better – not faster – by simplifying, living mindfully and reducing the noise.
London can be quite a stressful city, where are your top places to slow down and find peace?
With almost nine million people calling London home, it’s easy to feel claustrophobic. To find some escapism in Europe’s third largest city, I would always recommend exploring the capital’s green spaces. We’re lucky to have some beautiful parks and gardens, although some are more frequent than others. To really switch off and find some solitude, try Kew Gardens or Richmond Park which are a little further out, located in South West London.
^ Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park.
What are your favourite spots in London with a Scandinavian feeling?
The minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic is definitely en vogue at the moment in many cafes, restaurants and shops and it offers a welcome change to the hustle and bustle of London’s streets. For home decor, try Skandium and for food, I’ve heard good things about Snaps + Rye and ScandiKitchen.
Where do you recommend to stop by for the best cinnamon buns in London?
Fabrique (another cafe that is undeniably Scandinavian!) serves up my favourite cinnamon buns in the city. The brand comes from Stockholm, but there are now five cafes across London. The buns are sticky, soft and moreish. They are perfect with a cup of tea on a slow Sunday afternoon when it’s raining outside.
How do you best tackle the London commute?
Aside from high living costs, I’d hazard a guess that Londoners would say that their daily commute is one of their least favourite things about living here. It’s not uncommon for people to travel for over an hour just to get to work on the other side of the city.
My best tip for making it more bearable is to reframe your commute as useful time, rather than lost time. Write a list for the day ahead, download an inspiring or informative podcast, read a good book, or even listen to a guided meditation. But, try to focus on activities that make you feel positive, rather than just replying to work emails. Aside from that, get a good night’s sleep and always carry water!
What are your top tips for embracing slow living wherever we live?
There are so many beautiful slow living-inspired Instagram accounts. However, it’s important to remember that living slowly isn’t dependent on aesthetic. Although rustic-minimalist decor and rural life may help some people simplify or focus on the little things, slow living in the digital era is achievable wherever we live – which is exactly what I’m trying to do with Slow Living LDN.
If your answer to ‘how are you?’ is always ‘busy’, ‘tired’ or ‘stressed’, it’s probably time to slow down. Create time to do very little and practise self-care. Our most inspired ideas occur when our minds are allowed to wander – that’s why people often have eureka moments in the shower.
Your ‘slow’ moments can be as simple as going for a walk and reconnecting with nature, having a hot bath or cooking something new from scratch. The important thing is to be present in what you’re doing by switching off from technology and allowing yourself to recharge.
Tell us why we need to create a calm bedtime routine.
Sleep is important for our health and our ability to seize the following day. It’s one of the easiest aspects of our wellbeing that we can take control of and yet, we often neglect it. Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global and the Huffington Post, has become a vocal advocate for good sleep after she fainted from sheer exhaustion at her desk. In her book, The Sleep Revolution, she reminds us, ‘today much of our society is still operating under the collective delusion that sleep is simply time lost to other pursuits, that it can be endlessly appropriated at will to satisfy our increasingly busy lives and overstuffed to-do lists’.
To create a calming bedtime ritual or routine, try to avoid using screens at least an hour before you go to sleep – the blue light they emit can keep you awake. Instead, create a habit that you perform daily that reminds your body that it’s time to sleep, such as using a sleep spray or lighting a candle to read by. Baths are also great because they raise the body’s temperature, making you feel sleepy as it cools again.
And your tips for finding a morning routine that makes us wake up calm with a smile on our faces.
I sleep with my smartphone charging outside of my bedroom and I strive to not start scrolling until I’m ready and dressed. This is a great way to ensure you begin the day with a clear mind, rather than jumping straight into stressful emails and time-stealing social media apps. Sitting down and making time for a good breakfast is also really important – even if it means getting up a little earlier. Many successful people subscribe to an early start to incorporate something like journaling, meditation or exercise into their morning rituals.
Hygge and lagom are both popular words originating from Scandinavia. Do you see a link between the Scandinavian way of life and slow living?
The contentment that lagom brings with what one has – not taking too much, not giving too little – is aligned to the slow living idea of sustainability. Although hygge has become a little over-commercialised in the UK – increasingly a word to sell fluffy throws – this philosophy reminds us to slow down and enjoy everyday moments and revel in time with loved ones.
What is that Scandinavian feeling to you?
It’s about taking inspiration from our friends in Scandinavia to embrace living more simply and acknowledging the beauty in finding minimalism both in our busy homes and in our hectic routines.
Thank you Beth for all your advice. I hope it will inspire you to live a slower and better life, and I recommend having a read of her website for even more tips. You can also follow Slow Living LDN on Twitter and Instagram (where you can take part in her #AYearOfLivingSlower).
// Photo credit: Slow Living LDN