Recline, Refresh, Rethink : 10 thoughts from 10 days on a boat

Holidays. Sweet, sunbright holidays.

Glorious free time: carved out of the calendar in pink highlighter, counted down to with glee, finally arriving with a sense of smug satisfaction as you set your out-of-office email and flee for the hills or the sea.

Here is an excellent video by my brother about where we went and what we were up to:

Before I went away, I had a vision for my ‘come-back’ post. It was going to be all about the psychology of recharging the brain. I had neuro studies to share. Lots of exquisite nerdery I thought some of you might be excited to learn.

But I didn’t take account of what really resting – I mean being in a new place, having ten-plus hours of sleep every night, napping in the sun, taking long swims, watching drifting clouds and starry skies – would feel like.

Anyone who knows me will know I was running on total zero as I packed my bags. The last I took time off was New Year – that long weekend of endless train delays (curses be upon Virgin East Coast forever) – so I was excited to plan an extended vacay away from London. But it was like I had blinkers on. A lot has been happening. At work. At home. In my head (as per). Suffice to say, I was exhausted and ten days with minimal connectivity on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea felt like an utter dream.

So instead of another post about brains. This is a slightly cheesy list of all little glowing moments that felt like finding a birds eye view of everything. And you know what, that perspective seems to be working – there’s been a spate of super exciting things happening ever since I touched down and I can’t wait to share some of that with you in coming posts.

Anyway, here are just a few things I was thinking whilst I bobbing in the blue of the bay.

1. There’s nothing like a fresh perspective – whether that’s new people, new places, or just a new book.

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They say sitting is the new smoking. It’s one of the worst thing you can do to your body. And spending time constantly in front of a computer doesn’t help. We end up narrowing our world views to timelines, exploring through scrolling pages, sharing screenshots instead of ideas. Changing things up refreshes our thinking. It puts all that inner head stuff into a new and refreshing context.

2. Look up and feel the sunshine

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Sunlight is awesome. It resets body clocks, improves mood and helps with performance – pretty impressive for one of the few free things left on the planet – so look up and feel the sunshine, bask in it like a turtle.

3. Sleep is the best.

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I spent over 50% of my holiday sleeping and now I feel like I could Super Saiyan at any moment. Also cute fact: sleeping naked is apparently a fast track to more restful sleeping.

4. Walking/swimming/sailing is kinda like kinetic meditation.

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Ever wondered why you have the best conversations with yourself when you’re walking home? Well rest is more than just sleep. Rest can be passive (ie. Netflix) or active (ie. Chill). The latter is the important – it helps you become more alert and effective. Apparently we should all try to intro some this into our days – whether it’s social rest as you hang out with your friends and chat, mental rest as you focus solely on one thing like reading, or physical rest like walking and yoga.

5. Free time is absolutely priceless.

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There seems to be an attitude where having completely free time is almost frowned upon. Like an afternoon where having nothing to do is a waste of time. This. Is. Ridiculous. How many hours do you think I spent just watching clouds or searching the waves for whales? Sometimes ‘nothing’ is exactly what helps us relax and reset. Also – and this may seem obvious but I know I often forget – time is precious. Don’t give it to people who don’t appreciate it or won’t give you theirs. Spend it on the people, places and adventures that make you happier, better, stronger. Don’t forget to extend the same principle in vice versa. Time is a compliment. Accept it. Offer it. Respect it.

6. Feeling positive is much easier if you let yourself be angry, sad, or frustrated first. Accepting how you feel lets you move on.

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As I crunched sand between my toes and the sun beat down on an empty beach, mulling over some of the stuff from the last few months, this was the conclusion I came to. It’s pretty self explanatory. Probably should have come up with a more pithy headline.

7. You cannot be responsible for everyone, even if you’d like to be.

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Ok. This adult thing. It’s a bit mad. Sometimes you’re looking around for a more adulty adult because reasons. Other times you’re desperately trying to micromanage your life because dangnabbit you will succeed. Being an adult means being responsible for you. But sometimes you can also end up feeling responsible for other people: friends, family, colleagues. In some cases, this is totally cool and healthy. But you can’t accept responsibility for everyone in all situations. Sometimes you have to ask for help.

8. Cooking together feels special and glowy.

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Ok so this one I sort of added in because I almost missed cooking when I was away. We had the most incredible food but when it comes down to it, I love sharing meals with my friends. I love cooking for people and being cooked for. If I invite you for dinner – please feel free to feel special. And please accept my undying adorationm if you feed me. I’m serious. I think I fell in love with the chef from On Liberty. In summary: food is awesome.

9. Being candid to the point of cringeworthy is fine in principle. But sometimes you might get scared – not of what others might think but what you might feel.

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Whilst away I wrote a lot and in those rambling pages appear ideas and thoughts that surprised me. I’d call myself a candid character. I overshare. All the time. But there were so many pages I put a line through because “I couldn’t say that”, “couldn’t share that”. No part of this concern was to do with how it might seem to you guys (sorry) but because it scared me to think that I might feel that way. About my work. About a guy. About the world. About myself. I suspect a lot of us have thoughts that make us cringe away from them or keep us up at night (and I’m not saying we should all share all these weird, dark, awkward thoughts) but I think denying them probably isn’t the healthiest thing and we should maybe try to make time, take space, to analyse and accept them.

10. Writing is much more satisfying with a pen.

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I wrote this list by hand.  It felt lovely. I know there’s all this stuff about colouring books but for me it’s basically just about words on the page and some solid focus time. Finding that kind of headspace is amazing and I hope you all have something that can make you feel just as calm and glowy.

 

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