A lot of people have told me that what they’ve most enjoyed during this tumultuous year has been slowing down. And relishing what this brings like spending time with their families, baking, reading or outdoors.

The pre-covid lives of many were defined as busy! And often worn as a badge of honour. It was a constant battle to keep up with work and social lives, and in this frenzy, people often missed what was right in front of them. They were too busy to stop and smell the roses, which is a euphemism for taking pause each day to reflect and appreciate what’s before us. It seems that it took a virus to bring us to a halt and to take more notice.

Before 2021 arrives, it might be worth considering whether to return to this hectic life or to maintain this slower pace, and to make time to savour.

What is savouring?

Savouring is the process of hanging onto good thoughts and emotions, and deliberately trying to intensify and prolong the enjoyment.  

It’s a mindful approach but savouring differs from mindfulness as it requires us to be aware of what’s happening inside our bodies during positive experiences. 

Why savour?

Savouring is an important ingredient for our wellbeing and resilience as it enables us to enjoy the good things in life for as long as possible (Jose, Lim, & Bryant, 2012). Those, who practise savouring, have been found to be more self-confident, extroverted and grateful, and less hopeless and neurotic (Bryant & Wood, 2006). It can also help strengthen relationships by savouring moments with others. What’s more, savouring is free and an effective way to increase your happiness and reduce stress.

What does savouring look like?

Savouring has past, future and present components as described below:

Past:

  • Savour by reminiscing on positive experiences such as special occasions, milestones reached or the time you got your dream job.

Present:

  • Savour by taking pause and enjoying what’s in front of you including the mundane such as a warm shower or a delicious meal.

Future:

  • Savour by anticipating a planned event like a holiday.

How to savour

Often we fail to appreciate and savour the present even when it’s amazing, as our brains like to wander to the past or future. We believe that whatever comes next will be better but all this does is constantly postpone our happiness. Additionally, something that we once thought of as exciting, like an incredible view, can begin to fade over time due to what’s known as hedonic adaptation.

Most people typically savour following uncomfortable symptoms like a headache or after going through a traumatic event like a near-death experience.

Some ways you can try to savour are:

  • Acknowledging positive experiences as they occur by reminding yourself that this moment won’t last and that you need to appreciate it now
  • Transforming something good or uneventful into something better by immersing yourself in the experience like a walk to the shops
  • Capturing what went well for you during the day
  • Enjoying the simple pleasures like beautiful flowers or an amazing sunset
  • Indulging your senses by smelling your coffee before taking the first sip and then really feeling the warm liquid as it enters your body
  • Sharing your good experiences with others
  • Taking photos or mental pictures of events so they can be relived later.

Like most new strategies, savouring takes effort and practise. So before our lives return to as they were pre-covid, try and spend more time in the moment enjoying what you’re experiencing, or better yet make savouring one of your priorities for 2021!