Entering a new month of quarantine, it’s almost hard to remember the hectic speed at which we all lived before we were forced into our air conditioned caves. We had to keep up with work responsibilities, social obligations, and a never-ending stream of new technology and fashion trends in order to stay up to date with the rest of the world.
Once lockdown started, however, the pace of life slowed considerably to a crawl. People weren’t allowed to go to work. Offices, parks, bars, gyms, and restaurants all closed. Global travel ground to a halt and the entire world paused at once. It didn’t take long before staying at home became the new normal for any people. Puzzles, board games, gardening, baking, and more went from small hobbies and side projects to become the only things people could do during these times.
Now, finally, the world is beginning to reemerge one step at a time, but for many the idea of returning to the hustle and bustle of the old world doesn’t suit them anymore and people are wondering if it’s possible to bring the benefits of slowing down into the old rushed way of living.
Based on research done by Katherine C. Husemann and Giana M. Eckhardt, for people to experience the benefits of slowing down, they must decelerate in three ways.
1. Slowing Down Your Body
When I say “slowing down your body” I don’t mean to move at a slow pace, but to travel at a lower pace than you normally do. This is called embodied deceleration, which is defined as when the body itself slows down. An example would be people walking or cycling as their main form of transportation, rather than taking a bus, subway, or car.
Lockdown caused many forms of public transportation to be reserved only for essential workers, leaving the rest of us stuck at home. As we slowly make our way out of lockdown, countries across the globe are looking for ways to implement the rising number of walkers and cyclists into their environments. London, for example, is altering their city to better facilitate all the people choosing to not take the faster forms of transportation.
If at all possible, try to continue these slower forms of moving post-lockdown, as they not only provide physical benefits, but moving at a slower pace allows one to feel a stronger connection between body and mind. This can gradually open up mental space for deep reflection. It’s all about giving yourself more time to think, instead of just reacting.
2. Controlling Technology Use
Before you clutch your cellphone tightly to your chest, you don’t need to give up technology entirely. This is about having control over technology and having more face-to-face communication.
There wasn’t anything we relied on more during this lockdown than technology. We needed it to do our work remotely and keep in touch with our loved ones. Technology has been beneficial by helping people rekindle meaningful connections with those who are important in their lives. Zoom is probably the biggest proprietor of this, with their happy hours bringing long lost friends together to being able to watch movies with a partner, it’s clear technology has played a huge role in keeping everyone’s sanity at a relatively normal level.
The key is to try continuing these practices of social connection alive after lockdown. For example, keep any involvement with neighborhood group apps like WhatsApp, which lets you check in on community members that may be vulnerable. This keeps you grounded in the local, and will help you continue your use of technology to create close, meaningful, and long-lasting relationships with people in your neighborhood and beyond, rather than superficial and short ones.
3. Limit Your Activities
During our time in lockdown, our lives were boiled down to only a few different activities to be done each day: where to set up the home office, what to eat for every meal, and when and where to take a walk. As we begin to see others outside in the sun going to restaurants and bars as they start to reopen, the amount of activities we’re able to do will skyrocket. What I mean by “limiting your activities” is engaging in a few activities per day and – drastically – reducing the number of choices made about buying things.
As we all emerge from lockdown, try to take with you the feeling of making your own food and serving to your household, rather than running back to eating all your meals out and on the go. Also, try to maintain practices of stopping work in the middle of the day for lunch or a quick break, preferably with others and outside, if possible. There is much value to savoring the moments of your day and finding a good rhythm in which to savor it.
In general, these three practices speak to simplicity, authenticity, and less materialism in your life. I feel safe assuming that a lot of people did strive for these three things pre-lockdown, but achieving them seemed difficult because we felt locked in to the speeding rollercoaster with no chance of getting off.
The lockdown was a way for most of us to experience each of the practices at the same time, and it’s clear that it has had an effect of people. Once people saw felt the benefits of a life lived with these three practices in mind – the number of purchased items during lockdown was small and many people (myself included) decluttered their homes – there is this incentive to not rush back into the accelerated way things were and to hold onto to the more slowed pace of living
In fact, there are multiple countries that are trying to implement these societal changes into a new, slowed-down rhythm. New Zealand has been speaking about moving to a four-day workweek, and Twitter has announced their employees may work from home indefinitely.
This current moment in time offers a unique opportunity for the world to ditch the exhausting speeds of the old to continue living in a slower, and more meaningful life.