Isn’t travel amazing? I’m (reasonably) fresh off a week-long solo trip to Thailand, back to this place, where I spent a week doing all my favourite things: moving, sleeping, sweating, meditating, writing, eating... I’m basically a reasonably lithe and cheerful slug at this point.
This trip came off the back of a busy patch for me, and a patch where I’d been feeling spread-thin in my own life in the city. I have an incredible life, one that I am grateful for daily, but I’d find myself waking tired, which isn’t ideal, and going to bed also (no surprise) tired. I booked flights on a whim, found a last-minute hotel deal, and just went, giving myself permission to just do whatever the fuck I wanted every day. None of this is me, everybody who knows me knows also that shit doesn’t happen in my life without being planned meticulously and down to the wire, but breaking patterns builds neuroplasticity, don’t you know and it felt damn good to do something that broke pattern.
I gave myself permission to unplug, to nap, to write WITH A PEN ON PAPER, things that were never meant for anything but ‘draft stage’ and that I abandoned guilt-free at the end of each day... this felt particularly important for me because I am all about efficient use of time, and at home, if it doesn’t serve a productive purpose, it doesn’t go on my to-do list. I’d forgotten how to actually write pen-to-paper, or how to sleep nine hours every night, or how to make time for a supplemental nap in the afternoon even. Dreamy.
When you give yourself time to unplug, unwind, nap, and just hang out your nervous system starts to move from a fight or flight state of constant vigilance into a more natural state of relaxation, a space in which our bodies are better able to renew and repair as required. Your metabolism will regulate, your cortisol levels will drop and hormones will start to rebalance. The thing that people who’re constantly going on cleanses or “detoxes” don’t seem to realise is that it isn’t your diet that helps you heal, your body does that, all on its own. Giving yourself downtime creates space for your beleaguered body to do this work.
The six essentials that transform a getaway into a retreat:
The place that I went hinges around movement and pushing your endurance and strength, but wherever you go, find time for an hour of movement and, yes, sweat. Go for a quick run, find a class, or use an app - do what you like, and what feels good, but that one hour makes all the difference in mood and energy levels.
Take some time for you. Again, I went solo so this wasn’t really a problem, but, particularly on family vacations, it’s super to carve out a just a little window just for you. Read, nap, meditate, walk, whatever.
Okay, this isn’t always possible, but if you’re in Southeast Asia, like I was, seriously, get some. Because I am a nerd, I always travel with some oils (I pop my bottle in a Ziploc baggie obvs) and a body brush, so if nothing else, I’ll do this.
Properly. Don’t set an alarm.
Don’t overschedule your days. If you’re a planner, like me, it can be tempting to map our your day but sometimes it’s sort of nice to just go with the flow.
Oh, and salt water gargles
....before and after flights will save you from all the mile-high lurgies. The addition of salt to water (warm) then used to gargle creates an osmosis effect, drawing fluids from your mouth and throat tissues to relieve (and prevent) infections. It also breaks up thick mucus, which can remove irritants like allergens and bacteria from the throat, because is there anything worse than being ill on vacation?