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rebels with a cause: the slow living movement

A warm cup of coffee by the window, music in the kitchen and pajamas until noon; after four years of the hustle and the grind, these are a few luxuries I’ve been learning to deserve lately. It was depressingly easy to lose sight of myself when I was being pulled in a million different directions everyday between school and college, extracurriculars, social commitments and the constant buzz of technology. This burnout is a constant in the life of almost any student, and has only been on the rise after Covid-19. In fact, a 2022 study by the American Psychological Association found that a staggering 35% of teens experienced unhealthy levels of stress, putting them at risk for serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety. 

As finals ended and the vacation finally washed over me, I was left with no responsibilities, and it felt wrong to be waking up at ten instead of four, to be scrolling on my phone all day not as a form of procrastination but because I genuinely had nothing to do. It felt counterintuitive to slow down when the pace of the world around me did no such thing, when pushing my limits had become the norm. I had things to prepare for college, of course, but everyday I sank more and more into this blackhole of relaxation. Slowly but surely, however, the motivation began to seep back in, day by day. I could do my morning yoga and meditation and still pick up a textbook in the afternoon. I could sleep until noon and still meet the deadline for the internship I was doing. There was a steady realization that settled: the balanced lifestyle that seemed unattainable in all the reels I watched was closer than I thought, easier than I thought. And there’s a name for it, of course, because it’s 2024.

Enter the "slow living" movement—a lifestyle approach that's surprisingly been around for decades but gained significant momentum in recent years as a counterpoint to our frenetic, modern pace. The concept originated in the late 1980s with the "slow food" philosophy started by Carlo Petrini in Italy, which emphasized slowing down to savor locally grown, sustainably produced cuisine. From there, it blossomed into a broader cultural shift towards mindfulness, presence, and consciously doing everything at the right speed. Today, slow living has a formidable online presence, with over 6.5 million posts on Instagram under the hashtag #slowliving and countless blogs, podcasts, and social media accounts dedicated to the movement. 

Even without the label attached to it, slow living has become widespread among Gen-Z even beyond school, where work culture has changed drastically from the go-getting,  corporate-ladder-climbing of our parents’ times to “quiet quitting” of ours, from glam culture to the rise of “deinfluencing”. Of course, slow living doesn't mean giving up all productivity or ambition. It's about finding balance and being fully present for whatever you're doing, whether it's studying for an exam, playing your favorite sport, or simply sharing a meal with loved ones (without phones at the table!). 

The path to slow living is different for everyone, but you can start as small as you like. Maybe it's waking up 15 minutes earlier to enjoy a peaceful morning routine. Or replacing 30 minutes of mindless social media scrolling with a creative hobby you love. It’s about paying attention to how these moments of presence and intentionality make you feel. Embracing the little things may be exactly what we need to thrive and survive in the busy and seemingly endless routines of daily life, because while we may live in a fast-paced world, that doesn't mean we have to race through it.

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