Could Covid be the moment we finally slow down (in a good way)?

Trust me, this isn’t what I had in mind.

As the unofficial “godfather of the Slow Movement,” I’ve spent the last 15 years traveling the world to sing the praises of slowness. Urging people to reconnect with their inner tortoise. Calling for deceleration on a global scale.

Well, careful what you wish for ….

The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly forced the world to slow down – but not in a good way.

Like most of you, I’m finding the lockdown hard. It’s a rollercoaster: good days followed by less good ones, then a little jump, maybe a plateau, another dip, then back up again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It’s exhausting and demoralising. 

And I’m one of the lucky ones, with good health, a roof over my head and food on the table. The Covid crisis is causing far greater hardship to those with less.

But even in this bleak moment there can be a silver lining. As someone (possibly Winston Churchill) once said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” 

Translation: if we learn the lessons of this pandemic, we can make the world a much better place for everyone. 

Let’s not waste this moment of mandatory slowness. Let’s use it to rethink and redesign our lives. To rediscover the many upsides of slowing down. 

Here are five ways to use the lockdown to do just that:

1. Devote more time to simple, slow pursuits: reading, playing board games, cooking and baking, making art and music, meditation.

2. Reconnect with the people you love. Online or in person (where safe).

3. Rest and sleep more. Do things simply for the joy of doing them. Or sometimes do nothing at all.  Be proud – not ashamed – of doing less, of streamlining your To-Do list to focus on what’s important.

4. Reflect on how to transform your life after the crisis. Grapple with those big questions: Who am I? What really matters to me? How can I be a better friend, parent, partner, boss, neighbour, employee, citizen?

5. Find ways to help those less fortunate than you. If this pandemic proves anything, it’s that the world is a better place when we slow down and help each other. As the old proverb goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Bottom line: the slowness forced upon us by the pandemic can be a great gift – if we embrace it.