Sleeping tiger

Go Slow

Are you stressed out? Doing a great impression of a headless chicken? Forgotten what ‘me time’ feels like? Maybe you just dread the thud of your credit card statements on the doormat?

For too many of us, every moment is a race against the clock. Yet living our lives on fast forward can take a heavy toll on our health and happiness, our work, our relationships – even our community.

18th to 24th April 2016 is International Downshifting Week, a perfect chance to rediscover the joy of a life lived in the crawler lane. If you’ve ever fancied a bit of Tom and Barbara’s Good Life or Hugh’s River Cottage, downshifting could be for you.

Downshifting, in essence, means you spend less money, so can spend less time working and have more time for the people and things that really matter. It’s about all those old fashioned words like ‘frugal’ and ‘thrift’ and newer ones like ‘life/work balance’.

The trick to downshifting is not to rush at it – that’s not the point. Why not use International Downshifting Week as a taster for the slower life and see if you like it? Check out for ideas that help you spend less and live more, such as:

  1. cutting up a credit card
  2. dropping 3 non essential purchases from your weekly shopping list
  3. planting something in the garden (or a pot on the windowsill) you can cultivate and eat
  4. cooking a meal from scratch from seasonal, local ingredients
  5. turning off the TV and playing  games or chatting with your family
  6. booking a half day off work and spending it with someone you like.

For extra inspiration, read In ‘Praise of Slow’ by Carl Honore – or check out his website Whether it’s slow food or yes, even slow sex, there’s a lot to recommend a bit of downshifting.

What may surprise you is that downshifting is almost invariably good for our planet too. When we are time poor, we take shortcuts and the environment suffers. Whether its ready meals because you don’t have time to cook, treats to cheer yourself up, or guilt presents for people you don’t have time to be with, the real cost of our too-busy lives is a mountain of waste, processed food and the sort of unwanted junk you can’t even get rid of on eBay.

So go on – slow down and green up for a week and rediscover your inner tortoise.

blog by Jane Gray

first printed as the Green Scene Column in the Annandale Series newspaper