6 Snail-Approved Tips for Slowing Down this Season

updated Dec 2, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

You know who the real lifestyle influencers should be right now? Snails. They’ve been declared the pandemic pet, and it makes perfect sense—they’re low maintenance, cottagecore, and hypoallergenic.

But why just own a snail when you can be a snail? These days, whether we like it or not, we’re all slowing down and trying to do nothing in a way that doesn’t feel like doing nothing, and a snail’s pace has become aspirational. Snails live life in the slow lane. They have a deep understanding of how to appreciate the little things. They literally never leave home. 

These are some of the life lessons we can learn from snails in “Snail World: Life in the Slimelight,” by Aleia Murawski and Sam Copeland. In delightful detail, Murawski and Copeland construct nostalgic miniature scenes and populate them with actual snails and frogs. The creatures explore the minutiae of daily life: gazing out the window at cinematic sunsets, watching TV on their laptops in bed in the middle of the night, and slithering through suburban cul de sacs. They also get adventurous—snail dates at the tiki bar, horseback riding, and hot tubbing—providing needed escapism for these shut-in months.

Until everyone can break out of their shells again, I thought we could turn to the gastropod kingdom for six snail-approved tips for slowing down this season, accompanied by photos from the book.

Take a Bath 

From “slugging”—the Korean beauty trend where you slather your face in Vaseline—to snail slime facials, gastropods are giving up their beauty secrets. (And if you’ve never seen how slime is humanely collected from snails, which involves a pleasurable spray that makes them secrete more mucus, it’s worth a watch.) But you don’t have to get slimed to have a slow spa moment; simply draw a bath. Take the time to make your bath a whole multi-sensory experience.

Fold your towels into snails and pretend you’re at a fancy hotel. Bathing influencer (that’s a thing) Emma Sugiyama tapes flowers to the walls around her bathtub; try it to feel like a true garden snail. Homebody’s Amethyst + Alchemist CBD soak tints the water Tyrian purple, the ancient color made from sea snail shells that was reserved for the Roman emperor. Bath-binge a show for as long as the water temperature will allow you: “Sunshine Sento-Sake” follows a Tokyo traveling salesman who sneaks away from work to secretly pursue his passion for bathing. 

Make Art 

“But I’m a terrible artist!” Never shell yourself short. Snails are best known for their land art, but any time-intensive craft project will do. Dip your own beeswax taper candles with a Liz Wagner workshop, then savor a candlelit meal as they burn down. The best art is edible; follow Lina Sun Park’s recipe for a whimsically decorated Magic Pond Apple Pie, complete with a pie dough snail. Or miniaturize your medium with snail-sized art supplies, like a set of teensy Japanese colored pencils or a mini travel tin of Greenleaf & Blueberry handmade watercolors. You don’t need any special materials to do blind contour portraits. And when was the last time you stopped and studied a face? (Especially one sans mask.) Gather friends on your video chat application of choice, then take turns drawing each other’s faces without looking down at the paper or lifting the pen. Hilariously loopy results guaranteed.


Not many know this, but snails are voracious weeders—we mean readers. If your pandemic book club has already petered out, tuck into a snail-approved reading list. Honor the golden ratio with “The Shell: Five Hundred Million Years of Inspired Design.” Snails leave slime trails all over Patricia Highsmith’s bizarre mysteries; the author of “The Talented Mr. Ripley” was a snailophile who famously brought her pet snails to dinner parties. Virginia Woolf wrote her short story “Kew Gardens” about a snail playing the long game, determined to make slow and steady progress towards its goal instead of sweating the small stuff like the silly humans around it. Subscribe to a real, physical magazine for delayed gratification. Or just muse about a tiny tome fit for a snail: Charlotte Bronte’s first literary achievement was a snail-sized storybook she made for her sisters, with minute watercolor illustrations bound in a scrap of wallpaper. 

Play a Game 

Staying in doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. You know what they say: “Slime flies when you’re having fun.” Cultivating playfulness in adulthood makes you less susceptible to stress, playing board games with a romantic partner releases bonding oxytocin, and a little healthy competition can help ease tension with roommates. If Twister feels a touch too close for comfort, Hanabi is a non-competitive—but totally addictive—fireworks game where everyone works together to reach a common goal, which feels necessary for our times.

Another fun one is Dixit: kind of like Apples to Apples but with dreamlike illustrated cards that are open to infinite interpretations. If you’re solo, get absorbed in a good old-fashioned jigsaw like Smoke & Petals, Broccoli’s collaboration with Piecework Puzzles—which isn’t so old-fashioned, actually. It features a photo by Carl Ostberg of real flowers puffing on a different kind of flower. Download The Sims and build your own mini virtual world—it’s a lot less involved than creating the scale models of ‘80s malls and teen bedrooms in “Snail World.”

Write a Letter 

We live in a hyper-connected world but more of us are experiencing social distancing-induced social anxiety than ever. Two words: smail mail. “Letter writing is probably the most beautiful manifestation in human relations,” writes John Graham in a letter preserved in “More Than Words,” Liza Kirwin’s collection of illustrated artists’ letters from the Smithsonian Archives. “In fact, it is its finest residue.” Speaking of residue, marbled paper brings to mind snail trails, and you can print out Natalie Stopka’s marbled letter liners to transform any envelope into stationary. Seal your letter with slime—OK, wax. Artisaire makes recycled sealing wax in psychedelic colors. You don’t need to travel to send one of Broccoli’s weed ikebana postcards; it may end up living on a friend’s gallery wall. Stick on a USPS stamp featuring a head of lettuce or a frog.

Stay in Bed 

The ultimate way to slow down is to just not get out of bed. Snails sometimes hibernate for up to three years, so your three o’clock cat nap is all good. When snails sleep, they secrete a layer of mucus around their bodies to protect themselves. Achieve a similar effect by knitting a coocoony cardigan around yourself with an easy We are Knitters sweater kit. Put a couple soporific drops of Xula Zzz! Lights Out tincture with CBD, california poppy, and catnip under your tongue. Burrito yourself into a Broccoli blanket with a drowsy pot leaf and checkerboard flower pattern by textile artist Katherine Plumb. Then just veg out in a bed (of lettuce) and watch this video that the “Snail World” creators made in homage to the psychokinetic breakfast scene in “Matilda” on repeat.