Whenever I take time away from the hectic life I inevitably lead in London, (even when I've built calm & zen pockets into it!) I'm reminded of the same thing.
That to remove yourself from your life once in a while is a good thing. And it involves a conscious decision to make that space away. And that only great things happen when you do it. So do it often!
It taught me a few lessons that are so easy to remember when you are away from daily life and you have that all important time and space to think, create and BE. My biggest challenge- and lesson has been how to incorporate these elements into my life once I am back home, back to work, commuting, often grey skies.
I had the chance to really explore this during my 3 month sabbatical at the end of 2016, where I studied, travelled to 7 countries with loved ones and alone, and explored the world.
So what have I learnt?
1. Happiness is a state of mind
It's easy to be happy when you are away from the stresses of life and in a relaxed, sunny place. Coming back from my 3 month was incredibly hard - especially coming back in January (won;t do that again!) But in time I have realised that you can choose to be happy in any moment. Yes sunshine, no work or life responsibilities help, but a conscious effort to build happiness into your day can mean you hold onto that vibe.
Every Sunday I sit down and plan out my week and I book a class and something fun so I have some goodness to look forward to! I also made my morning walk to the station a fixture rather than only when I have time. I make an effort to notice the nature around me and take in the budding leaves, the trees and the sky- even when it's grey! It makes me feel free and reminds me I am still in beautiful nature even if it is more urban than I'd like. I came back and make a point of booking yoga classes, workshops, social stuff and the next trip into my diary.
2. Find the sunshine in your day
This is particularly important to me whenever I come back from a holiday. When you thrive on vitamin D (don't we all??) but you don’t always have sunshine in your daily life, what provides it even when the sky is grey? You can find sunshine in anything - a cup of your favourite tea, a song, a cuddle with your favourite person, wearing something that makes you feel super sexy!
3. Space gives you perspective
This is an obvious one but one I often forget. Without daily routine and the constant grind you have the head space to truly think, feel, breathe. It isn't always possible to travel to get this space though I urge you all to make it a priority and take regular breaks from your work. Even a weekend trip to the seaside can make all the difference in how you are seeing certain situations or showing up at work or home. Now I'm back I make space in my daily life to be still. Through yoga and meditation yes. But also through walking, sitting in the park, heck sitting in the car for 10 minutes if I need it!
Brain science studies shows that when you are in survival mode and getting on with your life essentials, you haven’t got the head space to be creative. How can you find that space for yourself in little ways every day?
4. People don’t change, you do
I came back from my travels expecting the world to be different. For certain work situations to have ironed themselves out, and for things at home to have shifted too. Weirdly, everything was exactly the same - what?? I spent a few weeks affronted and angry that everything had stood still in the 3 months I had been exploring the world. Then it hit me- I went away and changed. I saw places, met people and experienced things that changed my perspective. Life in London has merrily ticked on and of course things hadn't changed- or at least not quickly enough for me! You can't expect others to change – you can only take the time to do the work on yourself.
5. A simple life is a happy life
I have known this about me from the times in my twenties I moved every 6 months or when I went backpacking at 30 and lived out of a rucksack for 3 months and got stressed when I came home to all my things I didn't need! I need very little in life to be happy – when I am away I don’t often have a TV, many clothes, shops nearby, a car, hairdryer, or any of the usual trappings of city life.
And I am at my most happy with wavy, sea salty hair, flip flops (oh to live in a place where flip flops at work are acceptable!), and the ability to walk everywhere. because then you truly have the space to be free!
6. Your morning routine is everything
When travelling your routine goes out of the window. I learnt to have a simple routine that grounded me and set me up physically and mentally for the day ahead. It is one I can do anywhere which has been really helpful now I'm back in giving me stability.
What works for me is: meditation, a cup of hot water & lemon, some stretching, a walk and some positive affirmations . My evening routine is becoming just as important..I'm still building that so when I feel like it's solid and I'm seeing benefits, I'll tell you all about it!
I'd love to hear of any thoughts you have about what it means to take time out of your busy lives and if there are any big realisations you've had.
In the meantime here is a special tea recipe I learnt from a dear soul in Costa Rica!
Make a normal cup of tea with boiling water and a lady grey tea bag (you can use earl grey or any black tea you like)
Add coconut milk, a few drops of raw orange blossom honey, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of cocoa and I often add a cardamom pod. It tastes divine!