When Slow Living Feels Busy and Stressful

when slow living feels busy and stressful

I aim for a slow and simple life. With time to ponder and putter. I love to feed my family simple, real food and spend time hanging out with them; it nourishes me deeply to do work that feels meaningful to me – to build my small community and encourage the women in my circle of impact.

But sometimes my slow living feels busy and stressful.

Sometimes I start to feel anxiety bubble up in my chest because I am aware of my ever-expanding to-do list. I feel guilty because all the muffins and granola are gone and there is nothing premade for breakfast. I see the threadbare kitchen chairs that need recovering, the linoleum that needs a good scrub, the book that sits unwritten.

Sometimes my plans for slow-living are thwarted for weeks on end by an unexpected illness, a new life challenge, a desire to serve the people who ask for my help. The time blocks I have set aside for rest get eaten up by work – even good work, meaningful work. I spend a week and realize I walked on my treadmill only a couple times because I felt depleted and instead chose to crawl into bed. I loved and slept and accomplished many good things. But never quite enough.

And let’s be honest, even the choice to continually declutter and let go of what was to make space for what will be can cause stress and tears. A bit of an emotional unravelling. Getting rid of the books we read together cuddled on the couch, helping kids prepare to leave the nest, learning to parent adult children with just enough space and just enough support – all of it can be hard. Busy and stressful and hard.

So although I purpose to say no and eliminate, to craft a slow and simple life, sometimes slow living can feel busy and stressful. I plan for white space, for breathing room, I do my best to live an authentic life; I only recommend to clients what I am willing to live myself. And yet, taxes and laundry and client work cannot be ignored. Lunches and beds and appointments need to be made. Someone needs to pay bills, menu plans, attend kids’ events.

None of this is bad. I’m not complaining. But I do feel it is important to acknowledge the truth because we can read articles on slow and simple living and set ourselves up for unhealthy comparison. Unrealistic expectations. If we are not careful, our efforts become golden calf not panacea.

We see the capsule wardrobes and minimalist dwellings. The articles about living a laptop lifestyle or decluttering challenges. And we can jump to the conclusion that if we just follow the five simple steps, get rid of enough stuff, downsize to a camper van that all will be well. That finally we will live stress-free, perpetually joyful, feathers unruffled.

But sometimes slow living is busy and stressful. Period.

Because we are human. Because people are messy. Because we still have to eat and sleep and live in community. Because life is never as black and white or as simple as we want it to be. Because no matter how well we plan, life is rarely linear.

And none of this bad. It just is. And I think it’s healthy to admit this reality to each other.

A meaningful, beautiful life is not a stress-free life. A slow and simple life is sometimes too busy. A well-nourished mama at times feels depleted. But we ebb and flow, we dance with change, we learn to breathe and bend and become in the midst of it all.

Sometimes even slow living feels busy and stressful.

Krista xo

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12 comments on “When Slow Living Feels Busy and Stressful

  1. As a sufferer of anxiety, I live slow outwardly but often inwardly my mind is running a thousand miles per hour. It’s a constant struggle I work hard daily to manage. Always a work in progress.

    Also, totally unrelated, but I love the body text font on your site. The extra weight makes it very easy to read.

    • Thank you for your comment, Jeffrey. I can relate to your comment – for so long people would comment to me that I always seemed so calm and patient and this was distressing to me because they had no idea what was happening up in my head. Nutrition, mindset work, supplementation, and more have all helped still my mind. Have you found some therapies or supports that have helped you in this?

      • I have, thankfully. Ever since I named my anxiety, I have moved to include meditation and mindfulness into my life. Exercise (particularly running) helps exhaust my anxiety, while meditation tames it. Walking, too, and of course, writing. And music therapy. I’ve developed an arsenal over the last year and a half since I decided to tackle it head on.

        • Wonderful. I just read a bit about your dad’s diagnoses and that season of your life. So hard. I lost my dad and two other family members in the same years, about 3.5 years ago. A lot of other hard stuff was happening at the same time and it was such a dark time. Glad you have emerged whole from that place.

  2. This post is so true. I often find I have this expectation of what the simple life should be. Never stressed, never anxious, never a lot of things….. But a simple life, as you say, is not without its stresses and busyness. And I think it becomes easier when we acknowledge just that. As Kelly McGonigal says in her TED talk we need to make stress our friend, because really whose life is without it. I think is boils down a lot of the time to our mindset around how things “should” be and for me – perfectionist tendencies. Just being aware of this is helping to break those habits. Although old habits die hard!

  3. Thank you. Our family is continually moving towards more simplicity but this is such an important reminder. Life does get busy sometimes and that is okay.

  4. I am slowly but surely moving to a less is more life. I crave simplicity but I feel overwhelmed with stuff, emotional and physical. Even as I sit here reading your wonderful blog I am ‘should-ing’ myself constantly. I should be clearing the spare room to make my serene space, the paint is bought and sits waiting to be put on the walls. I should be dusting under my bed, I should be decluttering my drawers etc.
    As you say, life is busy so I am going to be kind to myself today, I will sit and look at the snow falling (rare here in the UK). I will read a book I’ve wanted to delve into for a long time. I will make a simple meal of eggs with seeded toast. No pressure today, I will allow myself to just be.

  5. This post really hit home for me! I burnt myself out tying to do it all. Blogging, milking goats, homeschooling…… I just kept taking on more as I tried to live by my principles. I’ve had to make huge changes but I’m glad I did. We have to keep life manageable while we attempt to live in a meaningful way.

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