Slow Living: a Q&A with blogger Laura Willers, Hearth and Nook

“Slow living gives you the space and energy to really appreciate what you fill your life with.”

You may have seen the hashtag used on Instagram. But Slow Living is more than perfectly styled photos and doing less. Slow or simple living can put a stop that a default busy feeling. It’s about learning to appreciate all that you do and have, and not overfilling your life with the things you feel you should be doing, buying or feeling.

We spoke to Laura Willers from Hearth and Nook to hear how she’s trying to live a more intentional and authentic life. Laura’s blog gives her readers attainable and realistic tips for a slower, more simple lifestyle, from capsule wardrobe building to minimal interior styling.

Hi Laura, to start us off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Laura. During the day, I work in an office job in London but in my free time I run my creative project photographing and blogging about slow living, from lifestyle ideas through to interiors.

I’ve learned how to create a lifestyle where I can prioritise doing what I love: spending weekends at home with my husband and our one-year-old son, getting outside into nature, and seeing our family and friends.

how would you define slow living?

Slow living to me is about creating the space to breathe, slow down and live mindfully in the present moment, rather than always thinking ahead or rushing from one thing to the next.

It’s about deciding what is important to you, how you like to spend your time and the people you want to share it with and choosing to create your lifestyle around that. By focusing on what you truly want, you can shed the things that are unnecessary – all the “should dos” and “ought to dos”. I think there’s also an element of understanding that there is a time for everything and embracing that: acknowledging that there are only so many hours in the day, that rest is important, and to move with the seasons.

Has it always been a philosophy/lifestyle that you followed?

No, definitely not!

I used to rush through life, filling each day up to its absolute maximum and then trying to add a little more on top. I felt like if I wasn’t constantly doing something then I wasn’t making the most of my time.

I bought into the culture of being busy. I thought that having a diary full of social engagements, shopping, events, and exhibitions was what a woman in her 20s, working in London was meant to be like. I would squeeze as much into my weekends as I could and would wake up exhausted on a ‪Monday morning, wishing I could have another day to just rest and relax. ‬

How did you get started and do you have any tips for beginners?

I realised after a very long time that I wasn’t happy, in fact, that I was exhausted all the time!

When I went on maternity leave, I wanted to change my lifestyle. I wasn’t sure how until I started finding other bloggers and people on Instagram who were talking about slow living and minimalism.

Here was this idea that there was another way of living: where you could give yourself permission to live the life you wanted to lead. It took some time, but I realised that I was enough in and of myself: that I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t or like things that I didn’t. If I wanted to spend my weekend at home and in the garden with my family then that had just as much value as anything else.

For anyone who wants to make a change, I would say give yourself some time to sit and really think about what’s important to you. Write down your dream lifestyle and what it is that you really enjoy doing. I made a huge list of everything from spending most of my time with my family, right down to tiny things like eating ice cream and kicking up piles of autumn leaves. When you know what really matters to you, you can work out how to create your day around that and prioritise your time accordingly.

It’s also really important to just be kind to yourself: change takes time but you can do it.

What impact do you feel slow living can have on our planet?

Slow living gives you the space and energy to really appreciate what you fill your life with. You find yourself being more aware of the value of things around you. It’s led me to want to surround myself with things that are well made and ethically and sustainably created so I’m very conscious of which companies I buy products from.

I think slow living also helps you reconnect with the natural world around you; from a city park to your local country paths, to the bunches of flowers that you put in vases around the house. When you’re not rushing from one appointment to the next, you have the time to look up and notice the colour of the sky or the changing of the seasons.

It makes you realise just how important the environment is, and I think you end up wanting to make sure that you have a positive impact on the world around you.

How has slow living impacted your personal and home style?

I honestly think it has impacted every element of my style and the way we live in our home.

I created a capsule wardrobe, embracing the simple style that I’d always wanted to follow but which didn’t always feel on trend. Now I can’t imagine not having it. Everything I wear feels like me and there’s no stress in getting dressed or time spent in the morning figuring out what to wear.

We spend so much more time at home now, so we’ve decluttered and created storage that works for us. It makes being at home easy and restful. We know where everything is and tidying up at the end of the day is quick and easy. Whilst I’ve always loved a Scandi style, focusing on how we like to spend time in the house has meant that we’ve designed the rooms around those activities. We have a big open plan living, dining and kitchen space, so we can spend the weekends together – one of us might be baking a loaf of bread whilst the other is playing with our son.

We’ve also got a growing collection of houseplants and we’re always foraging bits and pieces on our walks or from the garden to bring more nature inside.

In times of stress, how do you remain balanced?

This can be such a tricky one. We all feel times of stress even if we’ve taken on a slower lifestyle. I usually feel stressed when something is out of my control, so I’ll try to up my level of organization to reassert some order.

I’ll use my bullet journal to write a list of things I want or need to do and by when, breaking it all down to small steps that feel manageable. I also find that going for a walk in the countryside really helps – the simple process of putting one foot in front of the other and letting your mind wander amongst the landscape really calms me down. The fresh air and a bit of exercise are good too.

I’ve started recently doing the meditation exercises on the Headspace app. Some of them are really quick, so you can do them before bed or just find a quiet place in the house for a few minutes. I use them as a quick stress reliever, but I’d like to build them into a daily routine to help keep a feeling of balance.

Big thanks to Laura for sharing with us what slow living means to her. Go take a look at her blog Hearth and Nook for more advice and ideas.