Recently I spent five days alone. I had the house, the dog and the fridge to myself. No-one to wake me up. No-one to interrupt my reading or writing. No-one to steal my chocolate. Ahhhhh freedom…
Except my inner peace was all screwed up before I even got to the airport…
Two weeks ago my husband and son took off for five days in New Zealand. I didn’t travel with them because I didn’t want to take my precious bump on a plane. Since my son was born over four years ago I haven’t been away from him for more than 48 hours. So it was with a mix of sadness and nervous excitement I counted down the days…
The plan was for me to stay home and write my book. I couldn’t wait. I had handwritten notes, a white board, colourful post-its and an eager mind. There was meant to be copious amounts sleep and chocolate, but I had no idea that it would take me days to find my inner peace.
I was a hot mess…
Once I dropped the boys at the airport, I met a friend for brunch in sunny Balmoral ~ beautiful and inspiring Lisa from Downshiftology. Our chat was incredible, we were new friends finishing each other’s sentences (and jokes) like old friends. Just what I needed.
But I was early, and before Lisa arrived I realized I couldn’t sit still. I took a few deep breaths and noticed my hands were shaking. I closed my eyes to look inward and saw that I was about to burst. Not with joy or contentment for a fun, creative weekend, but with anxiety. I was a wreck.
I had been so busy taking care of everyone else for so long, and only taking snippets of time for myself, that I was a jittery, stressed-out mess. And true to form I had put so much pressure on myself to write epic amounts of my first book that I was not in a healthy way.
So I stopped. I meditated. And then I knew what to do. Yes I would still write my book, but more than anything this mama needed a retreat for the soul.
My time for nourishment…
Guided, walking, sitting, lying meditations ~ I was in an almost constant state of meditation the whole weekend. Lots of deep breaths, connection with the heart centre, and letting go. That’s what meditation was for me, all about letting go of the fear and endless chatter in my head and releasing unwanted anxiety.
Good food ~ for the first couple of days I saw how much of a sugar and caffeine habit I’d become addicted to. So bit by bit I let go of that too. No more black tea, no more dark chocolate, and very limited sweet treats, mostly fruit. My mood totally perked up.
Sleep ~ my sleep has not been great since I fell pregnant. I get enough sleep most of the time to function well but I needed help. Thank goodness for my friend Sophie who wrote this awesome article about improving sleep during pregnancy. I’ve taken her tips on board, especially her notes on winding down, and during my retreat my sleep improved dramatically.
Bushwalks and tree hugging ~ during hot days the last thing I want to do is exercise, but I need to keep moving or I feel worse. Most mornings on my retreat I was up early with the dog, out for a bushwalk and a chat with nature. I also lay like broccoli on the backyard grass, letting nature ground me and soak up my worries.
Long chats with soul sisters ~ every day I had one little excursion, one soul connection with a beautiful friend. If I haven’t been able to meet with someone, I’ve made sure I’ve had a long chat instead. And of course, I called my Mum.
Gentle thoughts ~ Given enough silence I think we all start to see what the monkeys in our head are on about, and mine were up to no good. I’ve had to manually slow each thought down, or kick it out completely. It took ages to feel like I’d made progress, but when I woke on day four I knew something beautiful and peaceful had moved in upstairs and gently moved the monkeys out.
Journalling + setting intentions ~ most days I spent time scribbling in my journal and deciding how I really wanted to feel.
Floating on water ~ whether in a pool, at the beach or in the tub, water is a necessity for my kind of relaxation.
I learned so much…
Music changes you from the inside out, it can inspire, energize and calm whenever you choose.
Social media needs boundaries. I didn’t realize how facebook especially was playing on my anxiety in such a way that I became a little addicted. Even though I don’t do much on FB and I’m particular about who shows up on my feed, it still has a negative impact on my happy place if viewed too often.
Me time isn’t just about a fresh new pedi, it’s about taking time out to pause, connect, see what’s going on inside and what you need so that you can get back to life feeling both vibrant and deeply nourished
Guilt has no place, I mean no place at all, in my life. Eat the chocolate, get a babysitter, do what you want but forget about guilt.
Silence does not need to be filled. Be more, do less. Let go of busy. Embrace nothingness. In silence I found so many questions and answers, I saw what was worrying me wasn’t real. I discovered I was feeling trapped, afraid and largely ignored. I gave myself silence and space to come out of hiding, to see the sunshine again, to relax with life, to find my flow.
On day five I felt so balanced and immensely grateful for time alone and with friends. Now that everything’s back to normal, I feel like I’ve created and sharpened my own unique tools for finding peace in the crazy of life. And I’m making sure that I have fun time alone, just for me, every single day.
Anxiety and stress can go unnoticed when you’re busy. It can simmer under the surface and grow as long as you don’t stop for long enough to see it. Thank goodness for my little retreat. Thank heavens for a chance to pause.
I feel like I’ve come home, I feel so light and free. I feel like this is a fresh start.
I hope you find your own little retreat soon.