When I first moved to London I was completely unprepared for just how overwhelming the city would be. I grew up in Surbiton, a London suburb and spent many of my childhood weekends travelling into the city to sightsee, or visit the museums. And as much as I fell in love with the city via these visits, they didn’t give me the whole picture. I didn’t see the exhausting hour-long commutes, darting between groups of clueless tourists as I tried to get from A to B in the shortest amount of time.
Working in London quickly took its toll on me, I suffered from regular tension headaches and abscesses. When I got Bell’s Palsy in October last year (which resulted in the left-hand side of my face losing muscle control) I quickly came to my senses and decided enough was enough. It was time to focus more on my health, and slow down.
So, I started to savour each moment more, and opted for slower, more relaxed routes around the city (rather than the quickest ones). Since then, my health has improved massively and I feel far calmer. So today, I thought I would share some advice for slow living in a chaotic city.
I always used to be that person who rushes through tube stations, ducking and diving between slower movers. And sometimes, I still am that person. But now, I try to make sure the majority of my commutes are slow and relaxed. I allow myself an hour to get to places, and I’ll often opt for sitting on a bus for 40 minutes over a 25 minutes tube journey that involves a change because I can read on the bus.
I’ll also try to walk wherever I can. Avoiding public transport has done wonders for me, and a walk through central London is a nice way to see the city while also getting my steps up. Basically, I either try to make sure my journey is entirely walking or just one mode of transport to avoid rushing around tube stations and bus stops to make it in time to where I’m supposed to be going.
If you can cycle to work (and feel confident doing it), I would also recommend that over hopping on a tube/bus! When we spend so much time on our commutes we can arrive home in the evening feeling knackered, so exercise is the last thing on our mind, but factoring exercise into your journey to and from work can be a good way to get around this!
I used to be SO guilty of eating my lunch at my desk (aka. shovelling it down as quickly as I could so I could get back to work). And eating like this meant I really didn’t enjoy my lunches, or ever feel like I had a break from work during the day.
Now, I try to go home for lunch (I’m lucky enough to live 15 minutes from the office) or eat out. If I am eating at home, I make sure I’m out of the office for a full hour so I feel refreshed when I return in the afternoon. If I decide to eat out somewhere (Tortilla is my fave lunch spot) I eat slowly and will often take a magazine with me to read. If I still have time, I’ll have a browse of the shops before making my way back to the office.
It’s surprising how big a difference taking a full lunch break can make, and I’ve found it’s meant I’m less sluggish and I have energy in the afternoons to continue to work on projects.
Again, I can be guilty of spending my evenings binge watching the Fab Five on Netflix, or scrolling through my Instagram feed, but recently I’ve made more of an effort to break my digital habits. I’ll read a book, or opt for an hour long Pilates workout instead, and I’ve found spending time on these activities helps my mind to unwind after a busy day at work.
I’ve also found listening to Podcasts a great way to occupy my time (I’ve written about some of my faves) and I’ll often tune into them while doing household chores to keep my mind occupied.
This has been a real struggle for me, but I am getting better at it! Instead of filling my weekends with brunches, and events, in central London I’ll instead make sure at least one of my days is entirely free so that I can potter around at home. I like to have a ‘pamper session’ twice a week, which involves a bath, face mask, hair mask and listening to one of my favourite podcasts. I find making sure I do this twice a week means I have proper down time, and don’t just constantly fill up my diary with exciting events.
So, that’s my advice for slow living in a chaotic city, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! If you have, why not pin it to your wellbeing boards?