When my father was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer, when I was 29 years old, I hadn’t taken a holiday since my university days. I loved my job – traveling the world inspiring companies and individuals through Styling and Creative Direction, and let my career define me. Not that I noticed, I was too busy. And then my father commanded me to take a holiday. He said I’d need it for the hard times to come. Like any typical goal-driven achiever, I was in denial. I was also totally burnt out.
Confused and overwhelmed, I booked into a luxury resort – the infamous Thai spa retreat, Chiva Som, where I was pummeled and pampered in paradise. My father was right – I returned with a more balanced outlook on life – but back in the real world it wasn’t so simple. Quitting coffee in Eden is one thing, but in the real world I still love my morning brew (and my career!) Here’s what I’ve found stuck with me…and what didn’t!
1. It’s great to get away solo, to engage in true time for yourself. In a work- focused life, it can be easy to become absorbed in saying yes to everything but yourself. Putting trust in others to plan your schedule treatments and meals, releases you from the control of everyday life. Away from spa life, try saying no to others, and yes to time to yourself more often (even if it’s to do nothing alone – book it into your diary if necessary!)
2. Roast whole garlic make a delicious alternative to butter on bread.
3. Slowing down takes practice and acceptance. Back at home, it suddenly felt as if London was high on the frenetic pace of its own energy. I’d become a tourist in my own city, walking at a slower pace to the natives, like that annoying person who holds up the morning commute. And it felt good. Consciously keeping a slower pace on my return made me feel more in control of my own life, and less part of the rat race.
4. Cutting out coffee completely didn’t make me happy. Although reports as to the health properties of coffee vary, a little organic black coffee daily contains beneficial antioxidants and nutrients. And the smell is great to wake up to – especially after all the garlic.
5. The hushed tones and friendly spirit of Thai customer service is infectious. When I came back, I found myself smiling at strangers, and with a renewed sense of calm. Recalling the experience still brings back a gentle inner grin.
6. A massage a day is unquestionably heavenly. #lifegoals
7. Any movement is better than no movement. Besides obvious ‘take the stairs rather than the escalator’ advice, squats can be done whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, or whilst brushing teeth. Upon awakening, I now spend a few minutes in sleepy stretching, and mindful movement – wiggling my toes, feet, ankles and wrists whilst still in bed.
8. I knew the theory that we need almost 8 hours of sleep to fully function, yet still treated sleep as something to fit in around work, travel and socializing. Needless to say, I’m now all about prioritizing holidays, rest and relaxation. In Thailand, I was advised to place something purple by my bed to induce calm (alongside a sprinkle of soporific lavender.) Whether it’s the purple power, I have no idea, but focusing on the twinkling violet amethyst crystals by my bed, provides a strangely soothing experience.
9. Wearing fluffy bathrobes and linen pajamas every day eventually makes me crave lipstick and heels. Balance right? My father would be proud…
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