Less than 3 weeks ago I was in the depths of Snowdonia in total solitude….well apart from the apparently obligatory TV that is, but that’s another story. We stayed in a remote cottage with only sheep for neighbours and fields as far as the eye could see. Removed from the pressures of everyday life, and surrounded by awe-inspiring nature, my mind was free to wander. As each day passed, I felt the stress of deadlines and to-do lists disappear. An altogether different way of being began to emerge.
In ways I never expected, some positive and others less so, Wales helped me to define very clearly the pillars on which my wellbeing depends. The stunning countryside and its immediately calming influence reminded me that I need to immerse myself in nature much more regularly. Stumbling on a fabulous deli housed in a shipping container in the middle of nowhere, run by a man with a goatee, a quiff and wearing what looked like a pleated skirt, inspired me no end. The wonderful wine shop with staff so knowledgeable they spent a good half an hour talking to me while managing to keep the chef happy with their coffee (an extremely rare occurence!) was a particular highlight.
Less so the ‘bustling market town’ with no bustle and its ‘must-see’ department store that went on forever. So many rooms, so much stock. When I finally made it to womenswear I was confronted with mannequins that initially made me jump out of my skin and then laugh out loud. I wish I had photographed them. I didn’t know mannequins like that still existed. My bubble was very definitely burst that morning but there were lessons there too. Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as what you do.
The experience prompted me to do an exercise I often work on with one-to-one clients: defining, unapologetically, the ingredients of your happiest life. They are the things that provide an automatic energy boost, lift the mood and feed the soul. Wellbeing essentials. You might imagine it is an easy and enjoyable thing to do but in fact some people find it incredibly challenging.
The first step is to be able to tap in to your own needs and what really matters to you. If you have spent a large part of your life thinking about the needs of others, this in itself can be hard. The second is overcoming the resistance to putting it into practice. Many women feel that it is selfish to focus on themselves believing it is at the expense of others. I would argue that it is essential. It leaves you stronger, happier and better able to help other people when they need it. And we only have one life.
And so to my own wellbeing essentials:
Getting out in nature – apart from appreciating its beauty, nature is a great reckoner. As I sat on top of the mountain in Wales I felt small, just a tiny cog in a huge ecosystem. It certainly helped to gain perspective. Definitely something I need to do more often.
Friends – the time I spend with my girlfriends is so important. I recently went to Bristol to see a dear friend. We never stopped talking the whole time I was there. I felt totally at ease, relaxed and indulged just by being in her company. We had such unadulterated fun and who doesn’t need more of that?!
Personal development – this is an area that I have explored relatively recently and I wish I had discovered it earlier in life. Working on my mindset and learning how to harness the power of the brain as well as manage its destructive tendencies is high on my agenda these days. If I stop doing the practice, life is much more of a challenge.
Structure – far from feeling restrictive, creating a routine helps to guide me through each day with purpose. Whether it is getting the right work-life balance, deciding when I might exercise, what I want to eat, or simply planning in a nap, having a framework makes me feel so much better. Without one things go awry very quickly.
Creative stimulation – it can take many forms but it usually involves inspirational product of one sort or another together with entrepreneurship and creativity. I love discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes and delis, especially those where someone has taken a risk and followed their passion.
The two businesses I mentioned above in Wales did just that. There was also the (half) Lebanese couple who had been forced to leave the country but came to Bristol and set up Shorkk importing olives and olive oil from the Lebanon was heart-warming to see. Closer to home, a trip around Tooting market on a Thursday evening does wonders to lift my spirits.
Me time – this could be a massage with the lovely Trixy or a facial, or even simply quiet time alone. An afternoon nap is a particular favourite when there’s no-one home and the TV is off. Blissful!
I am grateful to Snowdonia for reminding me of priorities. I am already using my wellbeing toolkit as a checklist each week and so far life is looking pretty good.
What would be in your wellbeing toolkit?
Lovely blog, thank you Lindsay, we are going through some turbulent times at the moment as you say. It’s always good to be reminded of how we can re think things or look at things anew. For example the news! We can choose to have us much or as little news in our lives as we want. This is something I am trying to work on!
Totally agree Charmaine. I never feel any better off when I have watched or read the news!
A very good blog Lindsay, holidays definitely remind us how important it is to press a pause button and consider what are the important things in our lives.
Croatia enabled us to do just that.
Indeed! Glad your holiday was thought provoking too…now we just need to keep up the good work!