Well, I’ve been back from my summer holiday for nearly a month now, and I’ve only just managed to catch up with all the inevitable post-vacation emails/washing/general settling back in to the old routine. I had a fabulous break, but within days of returning I was feeling horribly stressed again, so I had a serious sit down to consider what bits about being on holiday made me so relaxed, and what elements of them I could try and hold on to in my everyday life. Here are some of the conclusions I came to- there are no earth shattering revelations but it’s sometimes easy to forget how the little things really improve our quality of life.
Biking around the playa at Burning Man
Just the word fills me with dread. I’m generally incredibly lazy and spend most of my time writing. Sitting on my arse. Which obviously ends up with me feeling even more lethargic. Whilst on holiday I was up and about all day, every day. It’s not like I was at the gym or going for a run, I was just generally outside, walking and bike-riding around the desert at Burning Man and dancing in the evenings. The combination of being active and being outdoors also meant I slept much better at nights, but I’ll come to that in a bit…
So now I’m back in the UK I’m determined to stay active, without resorting to anything as boring as a treadmill. I’ve recently discovered the fantastic gym Frame in Shoreditch, which offers a lot of the sort of classes I can actually get excited about- think music video workouts, rebounding(involves a mini trampoline- my Freya Active sports bra has been invaluable for this!)and even ballet for adults. I’ve also taken up hula-hooping. Yep, hula-hooping; the best waist-toning exercise ever. A few weekends ago I went to the first London Hoop Fest, run by Anna Hulagan. Check out the waist/ass/pins on Marawa the Amazing (above) who was one of the guest instructors (you might recognise her from Britain’s Got Talent).
Jellyfish at Monterey Aquarium
Nature & the great outdoors
I touched on the benefits of being outdoors in my first point- fresh air really does tire you out! I slept better than I ever do normally when I was on holiday. Of course, this can also be attributed to other changes in lifestyle while I was away-for example, I wasn’t using social media. When I woke up in the night, I didn’t sneakily check my emails. So I’m trying to stick to those rules now and take proper breaks from twitter and facebook at the weekends.
In the desert at Burning Man there isn’t in fact any wildlife, as it’s actually a prehistoric lakebed, covered in alkaline dust; there’s no water and therefore no animals, not even bugs. But after the festival, I travelled down to Big Sur, where my boyfriend and I stayed in a yurt in Carmel valley. It was incredibly picturesque; the mist came in over the mountains in the evenings as we sat in the hot tub; wild deer, quail, bobcats and rabbits frequently graced our lawn so we were constantly oohing and ahhing at the latest bit of wildlife we spotted. In the town of Monterey we also enjoyed watching otters and seals in the bay, as well as all sorts of incredible sealife in the amazing Aquarium.
Seeing so many beautiful animals really did give me that childlike excitement you so rarely experience as a grown-up. Now I’m back in England I’m itching to go on some woodland walks- this weekend I’m going to a wedding on a farm near Bath where we’re promised plenty of badger spotting in the local woods. Spending time with animals has long been recognised as a great stress-buster, so even though I can’t keep pets in my current flat, I’ve been popping into Vauxhall City Farm which is just round the corner from me, to pet their gorgeous rabbits and ponies.
For more on this topic, visit The School of Life for their talk on How to Treat your Nature Deficit on 22nd November
I’ve already mentioned the novelty of getting a good night’s sleep whilst on holiday. I’ve recently also discovered the benefits of acupuncture for helping me get a good stretch of rest during the night. I’ve been seeing Claire DaBreo at Source Clinic, who I thoroughly recommend- the first time she treated me I went home and slept straight through the night for 6 hours without waking- completely unheard of for me. I actually suffer from narcolepsy so have battled for many years with both staying awake during the day and managing to get a good night’s sleep at night. You can see more about this from me on my tumblr, The Art of Sleep.
Relaxing in a hammock by our yurt , near Big Sur
So turns out there are 3 very simple, very affordable things that made my holiday so relaxing. ( Speaking of which, have you seen new magazine The Simple Things? It really hits the nail on the head when it comes to basic home comforts that will get you through the Autumn and Winter…) Now to keep prioritising these essentials enough to keep stress at bay! How do you relax?