Week 1 complete and I am already feeling the benefits of being mindful during my day to take a moment and get outside. I planned to officially start my challenge on 1st July (sort of a mid-year resolution), so last week I gave it a trial run. After all, there’s no time like the present to start to make positive changes.
I’m already learning lots and faced some home truths. I am a busy person by nature. Give me a day off and I will have it filled with tasks of all shapes and sizes before I’ve finished my morning coffee. It is a real challenge for me to do nothing. Maybe it comes from spending the last 10 years (f**k was it really that long!) studying at uni in one way or another and the never-ending cycle of work-study-work. Day off? What’s that?
Now, I am ‘living the dream’. For the last few weeks of our 8-month trip to Australia, we’re living in sunny Brisbane with some friends. I have the luxury of not working, so my time is completely my own. Getting outdoors every day for some me time is easy, what’s she fussing about? – you might be thinking. Well, it sounds great – unless you’re a chronically busy and anxious person like me. My to-do list is longer than it is when I am sat in an office 9-5! Granted some of the list is much more appealing than ‘prepare presentation for 10am meeting’. Daily features are ‘go to the gym, complete a module of (insert topic of the week) online course, job applications, write an article for (insert science magazine), practice water colouring’. Never one to miss an opportunity to better myself, I’m taking this ‘time off’ to work on things I wouldn’t ordinarily get the chance to.
But it’s a fine line between making the most of free time and creating a daunting to-do list that would ask employees at Sara’s brain for a pay rise. I had a particularly tough week with anxiety and decided to call my mum mid-week and talk through my worries. I was on my way to the library to try to slog through some job applications, with bags under my eyes from a sleepness night of tossing and turning anxiously. ‘You’re in Australia on holiday – get out there and bloody enjoy yourself while you have the chance! Everything else can wait!’ . After this pep talk, I detoured the library and sat my to-do list to the side and sat in the warm sun in the park, reading my book instead. Afterwards my mind was clearer and I felt recharged. Mums have a funny way of making life simple and knowing what is best for us!
Maybe it is hard to grasp if you haven’t experienced episodes of anxiety. The daily struggle is real. Imagine a little voice in your head (let’s call her Gertrude) saying, ‘ohhhh, you’ve taken a 2 minute 37 second break now to make that cup of tea, you better get back to the grind, how will your to-do list get finished if you keep being so lazy, what if you fail, I mean you’ve already failed haven’t you because you slept in this morning and didn’t go for that run you said you would. You might as well give up to be honest.’ I wish Gertrude would shut up.
Safe to say, my balance is slightly off.
Starting the challenge and making sure I took time to go outside every day for some self-care was harder than I thought it would be. It reinforced my reasons for doing this and why I need to!
But I did it!
During the week I took time out by reading my book in the park, doing my morning yoga in the back garden, enjoying a take away coffee by the river, cycling ’round the boardwalk and people watching while writing my journal at Brisbane’s busy city beach (a beach in the middle of a city, what a treat).
And I haven’t even mentioned the weekend yet!
It was a fin-tastic start – we went fishing on Bribie Island! Despite the rain on the way up, it turned out to be a really nice afternoon and we even managed to squeeze in a wee stand-up paddle too.
I’d never ever been fishing before and its not an activity I would ever normally consider doing, so it was a great oppor-tuna-ty! (sorry, I can’t resist a good pun).
Shorty (friend we are staying with) gave us a quick fishing 101 and helped set up the rods with reel and bait and showed me how to cast from the beach. It took a few goes but I got the knack eventually and was swimming along nicely. We didn’t catch anything but really I was just happy not to have hooked anyone on the beach behind me to my line as I cast it!
Another thing I have learned – fishing is best served with an esky of cold beers!
I wouldn’t say I’m hooked after my first fishing trip (something with a bit more activity is more my thing) but it was a beautiful setting at dusk with a pastel pink sky across the ocean. It also gave me a moment to get out of my own head and appreciate the ocean and realise how small my worries really are. It also reminded me to keep living as environmentally friendly as possible to minimise our impact on their ecosystems. Life on the small areas of land we humans populate is put in perspective when you look to the endless ocean horizon, and we can all do more to protect our world.
(One last pun) Any fin is possible, just don’t trout yourself!