How do you go about curing wanderlust when everyone just goes somewhere all the time? Yesterday a sweet friend of mine sent me pictures of her garden, and I sat there wondering how she has the time? My thoughts continued in a vein of ‘She’s supermom, who sews mid-evil costumes for friends on a whim, and takes on DIY projects like she was made to swing a hammer? I can’t believe she gardens too?!’.. and then it hit me. She embraces ‘slow living’ without even thinking about it. I’m sure she doesn’t feel the way most of us do right now because she’s gardening and doing the ‘slow’ things.
As I write this, I’m thinking of my poor cilantro plants dithering in the summer heat. I could probably use a little slowdown just to water my plants? Even though life is really good for Evan and me, this year has just been something else. Coming around the corner to our third year of marriage on top of remodeling a house on top of ol’ Rona. And then every time I get on Instagram – some blogger’s booked their next European vacation. While I’m a little (re. ‘a lot’) jealous… I’m more confused?
‘How is you getting there boo boo? The borders are closed?‘
I’M A PLANNER
I’m realizing the only slow living thing I’ve ever implemented in my life is stopping to smell school supplies and books. (YA. I’m a nerd. We’ve discussed this.) If you’ve ever walked down the aisles of Target where the school supplies are… you know the feeling. The smell of fresh paper, the feel of a new 0.5 mm mechanical pencil, and last but not least, the importance of what planner you chose for the year.
I love the feeling of writing my name in the front and then writing down what I’m going to accomplish for the day and what my goals are for the week, month, and into the ‘school year’. I’m not in school anymore, but the desire to learn and accomplish things never really goes away. For me, becoming a planner was the result of a lifetime of anxiety combined with ADHD. I have a fear that I’m going to forget things, and then I do forget them while my brain is jumping all around. With the added stress of the pandemic, a genuine ‘coronavirus anxiety’ has developed, and it’s made me lose direction. ‘What can I accomplish right now? What trips can I plan right now?’ – I literally don’t know what to do with my hands.
The Millennials and the Gen Z
Everything in our world from day one was fast. The millennials were the first generation to have Apple, and look at how it’s transformed our generation and the ones after us. At the beginning of 2020, we were so interconnected through social media, texts, and Face-timing, that we had access to everything we could ever want to know. It made us hungry.
Hungry to travel and see the places that everyone was flying across the globe to see. It made us hungry to drink the craft beer at that new brewery downtown. We’re dying to try the unique pizza combination, and the saddest part is – we weren’t satisfied. We are so over-stimulated that a concept like slow living can’t begin to be computed?
This fast-paced life is why we’re all so confused and ‘out of wack’ right now. We don’t even know what it means to sit still, and the discussions started immediately. ‘How are you coping during Covid-19?’ ‘Do you have a touch of coronavirus anxiety?’ In an article from March by Scientific American Contributor, David H. Rosmarin, he references a study from the National Institute of Mental Health, stating ‘nearly 20 percent of adults have an anxiety disorder each year. But it is novel to realize how vulnerable we are to outright madness.’
I couldn’t help but stop when I read that statement. He’s absolutely correct. The misinformation being spread like wildfire, the propensity to hoard supplies like a doomsday-prepper, etc. etc. etc. We need a break from all of that. That break is the ‘Art of Slow Living’.
So What Is Slow Living and How Can it Cure wanderlust?
I first heard the term slow living last year somewhere in 2019. At the time, I scoffed at the idea that my 25-year-old self was ready to slow down. ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead!’ – is what I used to say while planning to tackle the highest mountain I could. **Disclaimer: That was before I turned 26 and entered the age of two-day-hangovers from one glass of wine.
Slow living is just the lifestyle choice of slowing down and taking time for things that matter while soaking in your life. You hear the phrase ‘don’t blink’ when it comes to not letting your life pass you by, and that’s the gist of it. Slow down and look at the world around you. On top of the pressures of daily life, we’re coping with Covid-19. We’re bound to miss out on the good things life has to offer right now.
“We are bumping up against the limits now of how much speed the human mind, body, and spirit can take, and I think we’re paying a price across our lives to this ‘go fast’ or ‘do everything at once’ [attitude],” says Honoré. “Everything, from our health and diet to our relationships, families, communities, and schools, [is suffering] and it’s also hurting our ability to think, link, innovate, create work, be productive, and be creative.”
Slow-living is the best way to cure wanderlust and be content where we’re at now.
FOCUSING ON RELATIONSHIPS
One of the most practical applications of the slow living mindset is to start by focusing on relationships. In an article from Scientific American, David H. Rosmarin summarized the importance of relationships on mental health:
Relationships also have an enormous impact on how we feel, and thriving human relationships are the top predictor of happiness on physical and mental well-being—more than money, fame, IQ or even genetics. Yet according to a national study earlier this year by the health insurer Cigna, 61 percent of American adults feel lonely, with particularly high levels among those living in rural communities. – Study by Cigna from early 2020
So while we’re all rushing around trying to figure life out, a great way to reduce feeling overwhelmed is to focus on your family and friends. Take the time to check-in, write a handwritten letter, and Facetime those it’s too risky to be around right now (your elderly family). We don’t get time back when the coronavirus is over, and these three months of isolation have been tough for everyone. To cure wanderlust by focusing on relationships, talk about some of your travels with your grandparents or friends. You never know what stories they may have to keep your spirits up. Especially our elderly generations? They lived in a world that wasn’t overrun by tourists, and life was just different then!
Taking time for self-improvement
I don’t make plans farther in the future than one week right now. I just can’t. My mind is exploding with projects and things I want to get done around the house since that’s where I have to be a lot of the time. Cooking and decluttering are also easy practical applications of slow living because they don’t require a ton of forethought. You could up and decide to declutter that kitchen drawer, all while mindfully considering what you really need in about an hour.
You could exercise, read a book, learn a new language. The possibilities are endless if you’re looking for something to do that would help you slow down and be content. I have a whole list of books that are amazing for curing wanderlust! Every one of them takes you away and on an adventure, even if it’s only in your mind. Click here to see all of my favorite travel novels right now!
Get Outside and Unplug
It’s incredibly easy to consume too much information and become a victim of false propaganda that flows through social media. ‘Coronavirus anxiety’ revolves around the fear of catching it or giving it to our loved ones. The facts are that while yes, this virus is running rampant and does put some people’s lives in danger – if you practice social distancing and you are not elderly or immune comprised, you will most likely not catch Covid-19.
To avoid becoming unnecessarily stressed lets put down our electronics. There is nothing like staring at a phone screen to waste your time. I could spend an hour on Instagram without even realizing it? That’s wasted time, consuming nonsense. The second you put down your phone and look up at the world, you start thinking about going for a walk or sitting on the porch watching the sun go down. The more time you spend outside, the more you want to do outside; picnic, hike, bike, swim. The possibilities are endless, and precisely what we need right now.
We love to hike and we’ve been taking advantage of the good weather right now because it’s such a good distraction. When considering what adventures to take next, pack up and go to the closest forest for the day. I don’t think there’s a better cure for feeling trapped, than walking through a forest. The feeling of breathing truly clean air is refreshing for the soul.
Play With Your Pets
You have a pet for a reason. Without consciously choosing to buy/adopt a stress reliever – that’s what you got. Animals increase oxytocin levels in our brains and reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. When adopting a slow living mentality, take time to play with your pets. Over time, not only will your relationship with your furry friend become deeper, but you’ll also increase your activity. Remember Elle Woods, ‘Workouts give you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!’ Playing with my dog never makes me feel any worse, ya know?
But how does playing with my big goofball cure wanderlust? As I take him for different walks around our city parks and diverse hikes in Kentucky, I’m finding more and more parts of the city I haven’t seen. I can’t walk while looking at my phone and keep Thunder from chasing squirrels… so I have to look up and pay attention to the world! My wanderlust is satisfied a little more every time I notice a different flower in my neighbor’s yard or a different waterfall in Daniel Boone National Forest. The slow-moments with all the things Kentucky has to offer are some of the best times I’ve had these last few months.
Time rolls by without us even realizing it way too often. Slow living is exactly what 2020 needs.