I’m absolutely terrible at scheduling holidays – juggling uni and work and various other projects, it can be a bit difficult to find time in between to just have some down time, and the cost of booking a holiday away can definitely put me off. However, every time I go away, even if it’s just for two or three days, I come back with so much more motivation and a bit more perspective. My other half and I decided, more or less on a whim, to go away to the Southern Highlands for a couple nights, because the stress of uni was making me feel like I was going to explode, and I know both our schedules were putting a strain on our relationship. Even though it meant I had to (and still have to now) work really efficiently to get everything done and assessment submitted in time, just having some time to ourselves with nowhere to be and nothing to do (except what we wanted to do) was absolute bliss. And I think everyone should do that regularly.
I’m a huge advocate of maintaining good mental health practices (I have to be, I’m studying psychology), but it’s definitely more difficult to do the walk than talk the talk. I’m still on a journey to working out the best ways of keeping my stress levels down and being compassionate to myself when I’m having a rough time, but I feel I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years about what works for me. I’ve started to consciously catch myself when I’m thinking negatively about my self-worth and pinning it on small things that shouldn’t define me as a person – like if I didn’t do so well on an exam or I under budgeted for the month. Your self care (i.e., whether you do things you enjoy, take some time out) shouldn’t come down to whether you think you deserve a ‘reward’or not, it should come unconditionally, like your care of a friend or close family member. It’s important to make sure you’re caring for yourself, both in bad times and in good, with a scheduled holiday or a picnic with your partner or an afternoon with a good book, in the same way that you book in with a personal trainer to look after your body and grow stronger.
It’s also important, for yourself and for a relationship, to do things that are exciting, new and stimulating. That doesn’t mean flying off to Thailand (but if you are, can you take me with you?), but you can seek out new, fun activities that you can schedule every week or fortnight and have to look forward to. I love travelling, whether that’s to a nearby town or to another country, but ice skating, a pottery class, kayaking a new river, seeing a play, whatever, can all be great ways to get out of the rut of work-home-work. Don’t go crazy – making sure you have enough down time (which will differ from person to person, I need a lot) in between all the action is needed to recuperate – but a couple things scheduled here and there can make all the difference.
Getting physically away from the city, or even the house, I’m living in is a great way to get perspective. I love fresh starts – like opening a new diary or starting a new semester – and getting away for a day or two helps me to reset even when nothing in my life really changes when I get back. I can reflect on what I want to do, and what I don’t want to do, and set new goals for the near future. Experiencing another way of life – observing how people go about their day in another town, city or country – can help you realise the problems in your life might actually not be so bad and figure out ways of overcoming them. I came back from the trip with a more positive outlook on the upcoming weeks and have realised how important it is for me to spend time away from screens and out in the real world for a bit. I’m very keen now to schedule some more small breaks in the near future – because it’s important to get away.
Morton National Park, NSW