Switching off and slowing down

Updated: Apr 7

We cancelled our travel plans this year because of Covid19. It didn't feel right to me to be travelling abroad. So instead we escaped last week to the English countryside, took the dogs and switched off.

It's been a difficult year for so many of us. I know people who have lost loved ones to Covid, or who have been through it themselves, I myself went through it in March. It's been anxiety inducing for those who have had it and those who haven't. Those who have feared for their health and safety, have been worried about being in hospital alone without loved ones. Those with underlying conditions have had increased health anxiety, those living alone have suffered with isolation and loneliness. People are worried about jobs and finances. They've said it hasn't affected the young, but the over 70s are most at risk, this hasn't been my experience of it.

So while I didn't feel like going away was the right thing for me (as much as I would have liked to have been sat on the beach, by the sea, at the pool, in the warmth, or out on the boat) I did feel like we needed a break. A change is as good as a rest right? It's so important that we take time to switch off, I've been so busy this year despite Covid, I haven't had time to slow down. Our body's need this time, it's important for our health, it gives the body time to heal and repair. It moves us from our 'fight and flight' mode, where we are always wired, maybe a little anxious, often tired, but always on the go, to a more parasympathetic state which allows us to heal. More than that our mind's need it too. Covid I think has made this even more prominent in people's minds, we've been forced to slow down and therefore forced to see the benefits this can have.

So a change of scenery, a break from work, a rest after exams, a chance to relax in nature, a chance to switch off, all can help. So we loaded up the car with bags, dogs and people and headed off. Rather than staying in a hotel we booked a cottage to ourselves, we had plenty of open space around us, time to enjoy walks, outside areas to sit and enjoy a drink or some food and a farm where all our food came from.

So for the first time in a long time I finally had time to read some fiction books. You don't need to go away to give yourself time to switch off, sometimes just turning off the phone and curling up with a good book can do the job. So hopefully these two recommendations will give you something to think about.

My favourite two books I read while away were 'The Beekeeper of Aleppo' by Christy Lefteri and 'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens.

The 'Beekeeper of Aleppo' was the first one I read and would be very difficult to top, it is an incredibly moving story of a family's journey from Aleppo to the UK following immense personal tragedy. Not only is the journey described in heart wrenching detail, the description of the world they live in is so detailed you can feel yourself there with them. While you might think it would be a heavy read it is so beautiful that it isn't depressing, it is moving but still manages to stay uplifting.

I didn't think my other books I had taken away would match up to reading about the beekeeper but 'Where the Crawdads Sing' managed to capture my imagination as well. It follows Kya throughout a large part of her life living in the swamps of North Carolina. Abandoned by her family she learns to live around nature. Her isolation in her younger years is particularly relevant following lockdown and the isolation that people have been suffering. Part crime fiction, part coming of age, 'Where the Crawdads sing' is another great read.

So why not relax, curl up with a good book and switch off.

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