Every now and again, I have a few days away.... alone. Yes, that's right, alone. Years ago, I'd have considered this an indulgence, rather than a necessity.
Growing up it was a foreign concept to holiday or do something alone, now it seems to be less so for some, but a concept that works well for some. I encourage everyone to try it, at least twice...... I've tried it a few more times than that, but it's working a treat so far.
Some call it radical self care, time out, relaxation, a way to catch up on sleep, slow down, disconnect from work, electronic devices and life - so many names and yet, for me, it was something I never really understood, until recently. That it is quite simply, part of looking after myself, of checking in to see how I am. In fact, I've taken to it so well, you'll often find me planning the next one. Generally under the cover of darkness, stalking AirBnB, along with remote, "access only by 4WD", camping sites and of course, Gourmet Traveller. Nothing is immune, I'm open to anything but for me, the main criteria is:
Solitude, Silence... and let's be honest, a functioning bathroom.
My most recent trip was to Rose Valley, near Gerringong on NSW's South Coast. My aim was to unwind before going to a retreat to.... unwind. Hmm.
My choice was a gorgeous self contained cottage, off grid for phone and internet, yet nothing a quick trip "up the paddock" couldn't fix. You see, I love communication devices and smartphones as they give me the option to work anywhere, but every now and again, I know what I have to do. This property offered to space to slow down and still be online.... after a quick walk.
Now, I enjoy my own company and silence, just as much as being with other people and the sounds of the city, but it's all about balance. Taking that time to recharge without needing to do anything or look after anyone else. No eye contact, no popping downstairs to see how my husbands day is going, 40 minutes after we've enjoyed breakfast, no distractions. Paying attention and listening to my body when it says: "I'm tired. Just lay down here in the sun and listen to the pretty birdies" or maybe, read a book in bed, choosing to make my dinner later, or not.
Personally, it takes about 36 hours for it to kick in. My cortisol regulates and my fast moving brain slows down. Meditation comes a little easier, even for me, offering a deeper connection and with no commitments, space for self reflection. I think about what's been going on in my life, how I'm showing up, where I'm going and I also consider the "distractions". What's keeping me busy? Who's keeping me busy? Am I fulfilled? Am I staying on track, or was the change in direction necessary? What thoughts are waking me during the night? And most importantly, what's going well for me?
Over the course of a few days, I simply wait to see where my thoughts take me. After a few of these "essential time outs", I no longer sit down with a list, I simply go about the business of resting, eating, reading and uh, eating, waiting to see what naturally comes up. Because I'm relaxed, with no interruptions, distractions or interference, my thoughts become clearer. As the fog lifts, the worries and anxiety begin slipping away. Decisions are easier to make, as are new directions.
So now, I see how important this time away is. Do I wish I'd have done it sooner? Probably, but I suppose the most important question here is for you:
What can you do with this concept? Be creative. It doesn't have to be every day, week or month. Sometimes we simply know we need a couple of hours at the park, a sleep in or perhaps, a whole day in bed. Unplugged and away from the world. Some silence. Just enough to take away the distractions, giving you the space to listen to you, your inner guidance and your intuition.
Like this article? You're welcome to leave a comment with your ideas and suggestions about taking time out and naturally, I'd love for you to share it. Melissa xx
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Melissa Matthews | Sydney, Australia
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