Author and creator of the Slow Home Podcast
If you’ve been following along with the recent boom in minimalism and mindfulness over the past five years, there’s a good chance you may have come across Brooke McAlary; the young Aussie that’s aiding us all to make small changes in our day-to-day, and to live a slower and more simplified life.
Brooke is the author of not one, but two books; Slow: Live Life Simply & Destination Simple, both of which centre around the concept of slow living. She also co-hosts the mighty popular podcast, The Slow Home with her husband Ben, that currently sits just shy of 300 episodes.
Prior to embracing and pursuing a slower and more mindful life, what were you doing with yourself?
My life was the exact opposite of slow and mindful! I was burning the candle at both ends. I was running my own jewellery label at home with our daughter full-time, I was pregnant, and we were renovating. All whilst my husband worked super long hours and commuted to and from the city every day. I was pursuing the ideas of success that I'd absorbed from all around me, without ever actually asking myself if any of the things I was chasing were actually important to me. On paper, life might have looked good, but the truth was I was completely miserable and couldn't find joy in any of it.
So, what prompted this change to a simplified life?
Probably unsurprisingly now that I look back on it, my mental health came undone. When our second baby was born in 2010, I was diagnosed with severe post-natal depression and had to close down my business. I started taking medication and seeing a psychiatrist every week, and it was actually her who introduced me to the idea of living a slower, simpler life.
Initially I didn't think it was a possible (and if I'm being honest, I didn't think it would be enjoyable either) but it turns out she's a lot smarter than me because it's been one of the most transformative, positive changes I've ever made.
When you started to intentionally make changes in your home and in your life, what challenges did you face?
I had a young family and a husband who was away a lot, and even when he was home, he didn't really understand what the whole slow living thing was about.
I had to make a lot of changes by myself at first, which made things both easier and harder. I also began to realise just how hard it was to simplify and slow down in a world that teaches us to go faster, to want more, to upgrade and keep on top of trends and social media and keep up with the Joneses. Deciding to opt out of that meant I felt like I was alone a lot of the time, but I discovered pretty soon after that there are a lot of people looking for the same things.
What 5 tips would you suggest to someone wanting to slow down?
It's important to start small. Choose one area of life that feels difficult or complicated and start there. Find one tiny change, one tiny action and simply begin. Every big change in life begins with a small step and I think it's important to begin slowly and intentionally.
- Clear out some of the clutter. Start with your handbag or wallet and focus on how it feels to let go of some of the stuff you no longer need. We carry all of this stuff around (literally and figuratively) and often don't realise how heavy it is until we let go.
- Go screen-free in the bedroom. This means no screens (TV, phones, tablets or computers) in the bedroom at all, instead, creating a space for rest, reading, and relationships.
- Learn to pay attention. When we really pay attention, time slows down and we create memories that are much deeper than when we're simply existing in a moment, not truly engaged.
- Monitor your inputs. The social media profiles you follow, the magazines you read, the TV shows, podcasts and books you consume all add up to a picture of what we think our lives should look like and are all ways we get sucked in to buying and consuming more stuff.
- Get out and into nature. Spending time in the trees or in a park or garden helps to reduce stress hormones, increases creativity and boosts our immune function.