Balance, Wellness

Slow Living In Italy Changed My Life. How You Can Do Slow Summer, Wherever You Are

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Long, golden days stretch from an early sunrise to a hazy sunset. Nature blooms; the flowers of spring are bearing fruit, and the sunlight sparkling on the ocean dazzles you. You want nothing more than to throw your shoes off and run barefoot through the sand, and into the cool relief of the water.

We want summer to last forever.

But, rather than letting the long days fill the space around us, most of us are filling our time with something very seductive – and very dangerous: distractions. We live in a fast world, online and on demand 24/7. Hours, days, weeks get lost in a blur of emails, Netflix and apps, as we desperately try to get from one moment to the next as quickly as possible.

This season – if we’re not conscious of how we spend our time – we can lose the long days to the siren call of our screens, and the comfort of our usual routines.

But, what if I told you that there was a way to extend your summer days? A way to make the season fill up the space around you, in a languid bubble of earthy, tangible pleasures and sweet summer memories? Enter: Slow Living.

What is Slow Living?

Slow Living is the sensual counterpart to minimalist and zero-waste lifestyles. It’s choosing to engage in slow pleasures and act mindfully – rather than sacrifice your free time to a world at odds with your fundamental human needs. Slowness champions the values of connection, joy and reflection in an act of holistic well-being.

Slow Living doesn’t mean shunning the benefits and necessities of contemporary life. Simply put: it’s about going fast when you need to go fast – and slowing down when you need to slow down (and that’s the part most people are disconnected with).

How did I discover Slow Living?

When I was 18, I set off, by myself, to work and travel for the summer on an organic small-holding in the rolling hills of the Viterbo countryside, a short distance from Rome. Living on an almost self-sufficient property, in a new country, was a shock to the system. I was an 18 year old used to a life on computers, a diet of packaged food from supermarkets whenever I felt like it, and the perpetual ideals from fashion magazines and television seeping into my consciousness day and night.

At the villa, there was one, old computer (this was before smart-phones existed) with a slow internet connection that faded out every time a storm rumbled in the distance. Writing emails felt like snail mail.

I was used to comfort, convenience and speed. For me, connection meant the internet. I had a computer that I lived on, I didn’t have to grow food to eat it – I just went to the supermarket whenever I needed. Meals, in my disjointed family, were taken separated, and usually with some distraction. No night sky or fireflies or flowers to lull us as we ate.

Life, that summer, was to be very, very different.

Instead, we baked fresh sourdough everyday, which we ate with tangy-sweet apricot preserve whipped up from the bounty of the property’s orchards. We poured olive oil pressed from olives grown on the land liberally over our pasta and beans. We cooked everything with handfuls of fresh garlic, succulent tomatoes and tantalizing herbs from the garden. When we wanted a salad, we tore a head of lettuce from the lettuce patch, and dressed it simply. My hosts gave me a glass of walnut liqueur, which we drank under the very tree whose fruits we enjoyed.

Nothing was wasted. Everything was appreciated, savored and celebrated. From the afternoon storms that rained down to nourish the earth to the morning sunlight, with bees buzzing around us as we drank our coffee and ate our bread. And when we wanted a break, we took a book and sat under the veranda, or grabbed the morning train to Rome for a day of exploration.

Life in in the Italian countryside was different to everything that I knew – and I fell in love. My summer romance was with life itself. I learned the beauty of connecting to the earth, and the magic of time gently rocking by, day to day, as we gathered the season’s pleasures. It was an experience that I’ve kept coming back to in my adult life, every time I’ve strayed too far from my truth.

Wellness, I knew, was this. It couldn’t be captured in a trend or sold or marketed. Wellness was Slow Living. Mindfulness. Authenticity.

Between my Italian summer, and an introduction to Carlo Petrini’s Slow Food philosophy, my love for Slow Living was born. Throughout my twenties, I’ve kept coming back to this philosophy that connects me with the earth, communities and “life’s tranquil pleasures.”

In 2019, it’s ever clearer that the way we’re living – whether it’s for the environment, or our own personal well-being – is fundamentally at odds with the values of health, harmony and happiness. A Slow Summer is the perfect way to reclaim your life, your well-being, and fall in love with the world around you.

How to live Slowly in the summertime:

Summer is the most compelling time to embrace the beauty of Slow Living. Long, sunny days are an invitation to play with time and savor it like the ripest and sweetest of summer peaches.

Do you want to make your summer memories meaningful?

Here are 6 ways to embrace quality of time this summer…

  1. Limit your technology use. I know! I love my phone, and Netflix is my solace at the end of a long day. But nothing makes time tick by faster than by getting sucked into a screen.
  2. Get your hands dirty…by planting something you can eat! In summertime, plants thrive. Whether you’re scattering some seeds to reap the fruits of in the Autumn, growing your own salad, or just making space for some herbs on your windowsill, there’s a profound beauty in growing your own food. Growing food also makes us more aware of where our food comes from, and you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for what’s on your table.
  3. Eat every meal you can outside. Start to eat as many meals as you can outside, and you’ll soon be dreaming of this as a seasonal pleasure to anticipate every time summer rolls around. And don’t just eat your usual repertoire. What’s in season? Zuchinni, sweet-sharp tomatoes and aubergine? Fat summer peaches? Edible flowers and luscious green leaves?Eating outside connects you to where your food comes from, deepens your experience with your company, and awakens the senses. Eating seasonal foods is the perfect way to honour this.
  4. Explore local beauty. Holidays don’t have to be a big deal. What areas of natural beauty are close to where you live? Get outside on your weekends and evenings and explore. Whether it’s a small beach, the peace of a forest or a hill-top hike, getting outside in your spare time. Be sure to find areas even closer to explore. Is there a natural route or a park ten minutes from your house? Go for an evening walk or run to unwind and immerse yourself in beauty. Make this a regular feature of your summer and you’ll be feeling calmer, healthier and more inspired than ever…
  5. Slow down and get sensual with your summer pleasures. Get cooking with summer’s seasonal bounty, ride a bike with your friend, finally go for that dip in the sea you always say you’ll take but never do or – my favorite – grab some girlfriends and go for a picnic. (Load up on sparkling water, summer strawberries, dark chocolate fresh bread and plant-based cheese – to name a few ideas).
  6. And while you’re at it, just leave Instagram behind…But don’t skip the records of your blissful summer memories. Instead of taking 200 shots of the same pose and half an hour perfecting your filter – grab a film camera and snap life as it comes. You capture the spirit of the moment, achieve a beautiful, nostalgic aesthetic, and can share the joy again as you gather round to see the developed results.

 

A Slow Summer is beckoning. How do you plan on enjoying it?

Related: Blissful Summer Solo Activities Susan Cain Would Approve, Because #Introvert

Here’s How Sleeping 8 Hours A Day Changed My Life

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Photo: bruce mars on Unsplash; Paolo Bendandi on Unsplash

Phoebe Nicholson

Phoebe Nicholson

Phoebe Nicholson is a wellness writer with a Master of Public Health from Dorset, England. She is inspired by plant-based food, minimalism and slow living and seeks to help others see the beauty in the world. Follow Phoebe on Instagram @i.feel.wonderful.
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