Why I Choose To Live Slow and Focus On Me

As someone who creates content about slow living, I decided to write about why I started to live slow and document how it benefitted me. I feel a bit vulnerable providing these details, but I want you to know I practice what I preach, and slow living has dramatically improved my life.

Take the time to be mentally and physically well.

Slow living improved my life.

This article highlights how slow living practices improved my life and made my mind and body healthy again after years of neglect.

Table Of Contents

  1. I Break Down
  2. My Old Lifestyle
  3. My Health Problems
  4. I Need To Change
  5. I Hear A Voice
  6. I Start Living Slow
  7. My Current Lifestyle
  8. Video – Why I Live Slow
  9. Slow Living For You

When it comes to slow living, your mileage may vary, but everything you are about to read is 100% true.

I Break Down

One night after work, I collapsed while fishing and nearly dropped face-first into the lake. Several months of doctors, tests, and finally, results followed.

To go over all the procedures I had done would be a book, but let’s just say they looked at everything from general health to heart, lungs, sleep, and brain.

It was determined that my mind and body broke through years (decades) of neglect.

My Old Lifestyle

Here is my old lifestyle; see if it looks familiar to you:

I worked hard, always trying to be more productive, and worked long hours.

I did not exercise, used to smoke (quit in January 2018), and ate foods high in salt, fat, and sugar.

I never took time to enjoy a hobby or relax and just enjoy the day.

I constantly set new, grander goals and focused on making money.

I constantly compared myself to others and felt the need to keep up or pass others. I viewed other people’s success as unfavorable and was jealous.

I never felt content; life had no real meaning or purpose, just tasks to be done. I thought that meaning would be found in completing more missions.

This is the life I have lived for several decades. It resulted from going through the motions every day and not making lifestyle decisions based on health and purpose, and it caught up with me.

My Health Problems

I should note that I have been dealing with depression most of my life. At one point, I took medication for 18 months in the early 2000s but do not take any medication since then or now.

I am also an alcoholic. That said, I have been sober since September 2007.

My old lifestyle led to the following problems:

I had the start of heart disease (artery-clogging) and high blood pressure, and my blood work was terrible.

I was 70+ pounds overweight, tired all the time, and had self-esteem issues primarily due to my weight.

I had increased depression and severe anxiety attacks resulting in a few hospital stays. I became so fearful of these anxiety attacks I often could not even leave my apartment. When I did, I almost always had lightheadedness and heart palpitations until I returned home. It was even challenging just to go to work.

I developed TMJ (jaw pain) from excessive clenching throughout the day and while I slept. Plus, I had mild sleep apnea that prevented me from getting enough oxygen to my body through a good night’s sleep.

I quickly got nervous, had random heart palpitations and headaches, experienced lightheaded and dizzy spells, and always felt the worst would happen.

I didn’t really enjoy life; I just lived it. It felt like I was on auto-pilot, with no real purpose or passion. Life was without taste, and, frankly, I did not enjoy it that much.

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I Need To Change

The doctors told me that almost everything could be corrected through lifestyle changes, provided I could do it.

The exception was the heart disease, and while it could not be reversed, it was in the early stages, and lifestyle changes could significantly reduce the chances of it getting worse or to a point where something had to be done (like a stent).

The concern (for the doctors and myself) was whether I would have the ability to actually make the lifestyle changes.

The changes we are talking about have no finish line to cross. They are lifestyle changes in that for as long as I live, I need to follow them or else I will revert back to having problems again.

Viewed through that lens, it seems depressing, and it was.

I Hear A Voice

When the dust from the medical evaluations settled, I was really depressed. Many things were wrong that needed to be fixed and required a mindset and lifestyle change to fix them.

I kept thinking how unfair this all was and wondered why this was happening. I spent a few days really sulking and having ultra-depressive thoughts. For those few days, I was in a pretty dark place.

Then one day, while sitting on the couch, alone in my apartment, out of nowhere, I said out loud (and really loud), “you know, you’re the problem’.

I said it so loud it startled me; I reacted more like someone else in the room said it, almost like I didn’t say it.

I actually had to sit there a second to realize I was the one who said it.

And then what I’ll call my inner voice just said a few more sentences about all you need to do is change and start small and slowly add more changes to my life, and before long, things will get better.

This incident took 5 seconds and changed the trajectory of my life.

I Start Living Slow

I didn’t know it was called slow living when I first started, but all the signs were there.

I started, well, slowing down.

I focused on working fewer hours. This did not mean doing less work. I focused more on the job and spent less time grab-assing around the water cooler. I stopped micro-managing.

I started eating nutritiously and started walking every day.

I learned to pay attention to what my body and mind were telling me they needed and then provided it.

I started to focus on positive thinking, work on my path in life, and focus less on what others were doing.

I started following the direction of what made me happy, not what I thought was expected of me. I eliminated what made me unhappy the best I could.

I stopped watching and reading the news and started spending quiet time breathing, stretching, and practicing positive thoughts.

I did things at a natural pace, not trying to rush to get things done.

I basically started doing everything you will find in my slow living content.

I was able to do it the first day.

Then I did it for a week, then a month, then a year.

As time passed, I was learning and experimenting with slow living practices and how to apply them to my life.

After several years, I was amazed at my transformation and profoundly grateful to be where I am.

My Current Health

After several years of slow living, trial and error, my new lifestyle led to the following:

I lost 75 pounds and exercised at least 1.5 hours a day. I also eat healthily, and although I was strict in what I ate to lose the 75 pounds, now that the weight is off and I exercise, I can enjoy small daily sweet or salty treats without worrying.

I no longer have high blood pressure, and my blood work is perfect. I still have early heart disease, but I have lowered my risk because of the lifestyle changes. I will need to see a cardiologist once a year like I get a physical once a year, to ensure everything is still ok.

My depression, while not eliminated, is now manageable, and my anxiety is basically nonexistent. I occasionally get stressed and feel the effects, but I can quickly refocus the day when I sense that and resolve it quickly.

The TMJ is still an issue but has been dramatically reduced, so the pain is mostly just a mild, dull ache when it occurs, which comes and goes. It continues to get better and better as I continue to live slow (mostly because I clench my teeth less with less stress).

Due to my weight loss and exercise, all I need to control my sleep apnea is a tongue stabilization device (mouthguard) that allows me to breathe while I sleep. No CPAP is required.

I no longer have anxiety attacks. None. Zero. Zilch. This has led me to be able to go do whatever I want because I no longer fear having an anxiety attack.

I went from having trouble leaving my apartment to selling everything I owned and traveling the world as a digital nomad living out of a backpack.

I have developed the confidence to be myself, which I find groovy.

I now enjoy my life because it has a purpose and moves at a pace that supports my wellness. No more living on auto-pilot.

Why I Live Slow (Video)

Video coming soon!

Slow Living For You

Well, that is my story about why I started practicing slow living.

Will slow living work for you? Yes, I believe it can help everyone improve their life.

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My story is perhaps an extreme example, but I think everyone has parts of their life that they would like to improve and feel better about.

Looking for something else to read? I recommend reading my Slow Living Guide and Why I Live Slow articles if you have not already.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Gregg

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