Why Downshifting Your Lifestyle Is What You Need

Downshift Lifestyle


Downshifting is all about simplifying life and living at a slower, more intentional pace — something that’s always been right up my alley. Adopting simple living has certainly transformed my life, and I feel like I’m living more fully than ever before. Once you understand that less is more and how to incorporate simple living into different areas of your life, you too might find yourself downshifting in no time.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Slowing down my daily pace has brought me a lot of benefits in life. From saving money and time to living a stress-free life full of meaning and connection, downshifting revitalized my way of living and it’s something I’ll never look back on.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Is The Downshift Lifestyle?

What Is The Downshift Lifestyle

Downshifting is a way of living in which people choose to adopt a simpler, less stressful life — often by prioritizing personal peace and meaningful experiences over materialism delivered at high speed. It complements minimalism well, as both lifestyles hold similar core values that center around simplicity and intention.

modern life gets busierAs modern life gets busier, downshifters are intentionally prioritizing time, health, and peace of mind over money and possessions. They are shifting into a lower gear in an effort to slow down the pace of the busy life norm.

By scaling back at work or paring down your lifestyle to sidestep mounting pressure and stress, downshifting can help you live a balanced life in which you can distinguish what you want from what you need to be fulfilled.

If feelings of burnout have been lurking around the corner whenever you’re at home and at work, perhaps you should be asking yourself if downshifting in your life is possible.

Why Should You Downshift And Adopt Slow Living?

Why Should You Downshift And Adopt Slow Living

While modern progress has made our lives easier than past generations in many ways, sometimes it feels like it’s also made our pace of life feel unnecessarily fast. If you feel like you hardly have any leisure time left at the end of the day or workweek and it’s affecting your wellbeing, downshifting your life (even if just some aspects of it) might be what you need.

benefits of minimalismCutting down on the pressures of your daily routine will improve your mental wellbeing and help you find greater life satisfaction. Downshifting rejects the norm that stress is a part of life, and it favors happiness over success. It comes with the realization that you don’t need to work long hours at a job you don’t like to buy things you don’t need.

Ultimately, simple living will improve your quality of life. You’ll benefit from balance, having more time to think, connect with your loved ones, be outdoors, and do things you never had the time for before.

Downshifting can provide you with the path that brings you to a life filled with passion and fulfillment, and help you escape the norms of competition, stress, and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

Different Types Of Downshifting

Different Types Of Downshifting

Most people relate downshifting to improving work-life balance. But, while downshifting is commonly seen as an antidote to the “work grind,” there are other ways you can adopt it. Prioritizing a “less is more” mindset can also spill over into how you embrace technology daily, how you approach your consumption habits, and what you prioritize in terms of your lifestyle and leisure time.

Digital Downshifting

Technology and digital presence have grown to take up a big portion of how we spend the hours in our days. Of course, access to technology has made modern life much better than it used to be, but constant digital stimulation can actually be harmful to more than just your time. Scrolling triggers our brains to release cortisol and puts us in a chronic fight-or-flight mode.

iphone notifications screenStepping away from these stimuli and enjoying not only the presence of your friends and family, but loving your own company, too, is an important part of downshifting. Digital downshifting involves being in the moment and living consciously, cutting down on the time you spend on social media and other online tools.

Digital downshifting is a lot like digital decluttering. Reducing the amount of time spent in front of the television or other screens frees up a lot of your day so that you can do things that are meaningful to you.

digital decluttering

Consumption Downshifting

Another way to reduce complexity in your life and adopt slow living is by reducing your consumption habits. Be intentional about your purchases and spend less money on superfluous items.

low buy yearAn important note here is understanding how to distinguish your needs from your wants. Consider whether you truly need something or whether you’re making yourself believe you do because you just really want it.

Like minimalists, downshifters are putting conscious effort into buying fewer things. This often leads to less in-home clutter and more financial freedom. Reduced consumption ultimately causes less waste, which we all know is better for the environment — yet another hidden benefit of downshifting.

When we slow down, we use fewer resources and benefit both ourselves and the world we live in. Powering a 4,000-sq.-ft. single-family home with all your excess stuff is no longer a given when you pare down.

Once you start shopping less, you’ll not only reduce how much packaging you bring into your home, but also the number of unloved items you throw in landfill each year. Downshifting helps reduce your carbon footprint and can also improve your quality of life. It’s a win-win!

Lifestyle Downshifting

Lifestyle downshifting is all about slowing down and enjoying simpler living. Decelerating involves savoring every minute and enjoying the small things. By slowing down your days and taking on fewer things to do, you’ll have more hours left for what really matters, like spending time with your loved ones.

be content with what you already haveTry to escape from the temptation of filling your leisure time with obligations or distractions that create the fantasy of a “full” life. Be thoughtful and intentional about your free time. If you genuinely enjoy fitness and socializing with friends, by all means, go for it. But if you’re doing these things because you feel like you must, and not because you want to, it might be time to reassess them.

Don’t turn your weekends into scavenger hunts under the illusion that they are making your life more wholesome. If you dread the hour-long drive to go apple-picking in the fall with people you don’t care much about, don’t do it. If you’re tired of driving your children to after-school activities and little league events every day, have them select one activity they really like, and spend the remaining time enjoying each other’s company.

Next time you’re about to add something to your calendar, ask yourself, “Do I enjoy this?” Be honest with yourself. Your leisure time is precious.

Career Downshifting

Career downshifting is about taking on fewer work hours or even a new position, escaping the nine-to-five corporate environment. When you downshift other areas of your life, you may honestly find that you’re able to afford working less, even if it means bringing home a smaller paycheck. Leaving a well-paying occupation for a less stressful one, in favor of a more fulfilling life, is what career downshifting is all about.

Social norms dictate that all responsible adults should take on stable, full-time jobs to pay the bills and rejoice in some sort of career satisfaction. But that’s not a rule set in stone. If your job makes you feel stressed, emotionally drained, or even physically unwell, you should consider changing making changes to reduce your workload or schedule, to make more time for the things that make you happy.

build a better life

How To Downshift: Steps To Get You Started

Steps To Start The Downshift lIfestyle

Like I said, downshifting is all about simple living. It shouldn’t be hard to do, so I’ve broken down my downshifting strategy into actionable steps that can help anyone get started. Make sure you identify a purpose in downshifting and everything else will flow easily. By assessing your financial situation, easing into it, and finding like-minded people, you’ll find that downshifting is a lot easier than you expected.

1 Define Your Purpose

What do you want to achieve by downshifting? Perhaps you are seeking more mental wellbeing, or you want to reduce your workload to spend more time with family. Reflect for a bit and then write down your purpose so that you keep working toward it.

Ask yourself whether you want to fully embrace downshifting in your life or only in some aspects of it. Maybe you just want to downshift your consumption or start by downshifting your digital presence. Be mindful of what’s driving you and make it a priority to stick to your purpose.

write down your purpose

2 Assess Your Budget: Can You Afford To Downshift?

Because there are several different types of downshifting, you’ve got to consider the different “budgets” you have for each area of your life. Most of us have a finite amount of resources, including money, time, mental expenditure, and stuff.

downshift your lifestyle based on your budgetWhen it comes time to assess your budget, figure out where you have the most surplus and start by downshifting there. If your financial budget is a little tight, don’t start by downshifting at work and risk the possibility of making less money. Instead, consider downshifting your consumption to buy less and maybe save a few bucks.

Go through your days and think about how to make them lighter, simpler, and less stressful. Can you cancel one of your many weekend plans and give yourself time to just do nothing? Maybe you can limit your daily screen time for some digital downshifting.

Remember, downshifting should feel like a weight lifted, not an unnecessary complication or added stressor.

3 Make Small Changes First

Ease into it. There’s no need to take the plunge if you’re not yet comfortable with it. Adopt small changes, like spending less money, cutting down on superfluous shopping, and crossing an activity off your schedule (one you don’t particularly love or enjoy). Get used to the idea of distinguishing what you need from what you want so that, with time, you can live comfortably with only what you need.

get gym membership so you can exerciseI like to start off by being clear about what my needs are. They can be split into one of two categories: physical and psychological needs. Food, water, clothing, and shelter are the only essential items a person needs to survive.

Other items might be necessary for you to thrive, like a vehicle to give you autonomy, maybe also a gym membership so that you can exercise. Start small and ask yourself whether you need a specific item or activity to thrive and survive. If not, do away with it, one at a time.

4 Join Like-Minded Communities

Joining a community of people who think like you can help you get the support you need to go through with your process.

community of like-minded individualsPeople who have been where you are right now can point you in the right direction, answer questions on any doubts you might have on the transition and help keep you on track.

As a member of a local minimalist community myself, I know very well that sharing similar values and experiences with others helps with feeling supported in the pursuit of a new lifestyle.

Groups on Meetup or Eventbrite are excellent resources to help you find a community of people who think like you. You can also try searching on Facebook for online groups that discuss similar topics. Usually, they’ll help you narrow down and locate a community near where you live.

Simple Tips To A Slower Pace Of Life

Simple Tips To A Slower Pace Of Life

Learning how to embrace a slower pace of life takes time, but with a few tips it can be made easier. Honestly, these tips don’t have to apply to downshifting specifically, but all of them will help you get into the intentional mindset that leads to a less stressful, more rewarding life.

simple living

Let Your Downshifting Reflect Your Priorities

Reflect on what’s important to you. What’s your priority in life? When the 2009 recession hit, I dreamt of dropping my cost of living so that I could focus on what mattered to me and not have to worry about money. For four years I worked toward that goal.

Today, I live in a tiny house I built myself, spend less money, and set my own schedule. Because I’m able to save money and take more control of my life, I have greater peace of mind and can enjoy every moment of it.

Be Present and Enjoy The Moment

When you slow down, you’re able to savor every second of your life. Being present and enjoying the moment plays a big part in downshifting. If you’re not yet in this mindset, it will take some actively getting used to, but the effort is well worth it.

When you start living in the moment, you’ll finally feel like you’re living life as it should be. Try not to let your mind wander to the things you need to get done later or to anything that might happen tomorrow. Focus on what’s going on around you now and breathe it all in.

Connect With Nature

Perhaps one of the Earth’s most overlooked gifts to humanity is nature. It’s been scientifically proven that nature has a positive effect on physical and mental health. Nature is undeniably refreshing, and connecting with it can do wonders for the soul.

connect with nature in the outdoorsInterestingly, interacting with and appreciating nature’s beauty is embedded in many Scandinavian cultures. The Nordic even have a name for it, “Friluftsliv,” a simple living philosophy that values being in harmony with nature.

A couple of ways to reconnect with nature are by growing your own garden and practicing more outdoor activities, like going on walks, hikes, and camping. If you’re ready to take things up a notch and connect with your own land, you can pursue homesteading, which describes a lifestyle of self-sufficiency through growing your own food.

what is homesteading

Keep Your Home Peaceful

Your home is an extension of yourself. As the place where you spend most of your time, your home is your sanctuary, a space where you feel safe and calm, so be sure to make it so.

Downshifting doesn’t mean you need to get rid of everything but your mattress and a few utensils. Just be intentional about your home’s design. Look at your clutter and overall décor and ask yourself whether it agrees with what you want for your life.

Noise often adds clutter to your built environment, even if you can’t see it. Turn off your television, prioritize silence, and enjoy the external sounds you hear. Use your best judgment to create a holistic space that transmits tranquility and peacefulness.

how to create a peaceful home

Outsource Stressful Tasks When Possible

Slow living taught me that it’s okay to outsource tasks I don’t like doing in exchange for mental sanity and more free time for what matters. Because I despise doing laundry, I never added a laundry room to my tiny house. Instead, I drop it off to a wash and fold service each week, which gives me more time to recharge and enjoy life.

While downshifting may help you reduce the number of items on your to-do list, it won’t eliminate them. For things you can’t cut out of your life, can you outsource some of it instead?

Stay Organized

Even as you downshift your life, you’ll still have things to do and chores to keep up with. Staying organized ensures that you’ll get to what needs to be done without feeling overburdened.

Staying organized sharpens your focus so that you can filter out the things that aren’t important and stay grounded in what does. Make a list of what needs to get done in your personal and professional life. It can help you navigate your tasks and continue being productive. By adding items to your list and checking them off as you complete them, you release anxiety and contribute to producing a stress-free life.

ways to declutter your mind

Learn To Say No

“No” is a simple, two-letter word that most people have a hard time saying. Be clear about what you want and identify what’s important to you.

Acknowledging when something doesn’t add value to your life, and maybe even subtracts from it, is an important factor in simple living. Fighting the battle of the busy schedule is hard. You don’t want to fill up your time with chores, events, and appointments that aren’t important to you. Knowing when and how to say “no” is an important strategy that helps you keep your life organized and simple.

learn how to say no

Downshifting Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Downshifting Doesnt Happen Overnight

While downshifting may seem like the plunge your life needs right now, it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Slowing down the pace of your life requires a smooth transition. Ease yourself into it and allow yourself to adapt to this life-changing adventure. Downshifting is not a one-size-fits-all solution — tailoring it to your lifestyle is critical to ensure the success of your plan and purpose.

Your Turn!

  • In what areas of your life can you start downshifting?
  • What drives you in your quest for a simpler life?

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