There are plenty out there who think backpacking, when it really comes down to it, is pretty much just spending months on end lazing on a beach, tanning and partying as soon as the sun goes down. I won’t lie, there’s plenty of that, but there is also so much more to it all. I’m talking about the hours on end spent wandering the streets, looking at beautiful buildings, talking to local people, trying food and soaking up the culture. I’m talking about the times when you get up at half past five to hike up to the highest point of the town to watch the sun rise, when you are chased by monkeys are crazy dogs to get to a temple, and the times when you go off exploring on bikes. It’s actually pretty damn busy, and looking back now over the last few weeks, I can’t understand how I’ve managed to cram so much in. It’s pretty tiring actually, I haven’t really had many days of just doing nothing and relaxing because I’ve been so keen to explore and discover more about the places I am staying in.
Anyone who knew me, or read this blog when I was at home, will know that I never stopped. I was working four jobs at one point to pay for this trip, alongside blogging and still having a life – I love to be busy and to enjoy the world around me to the max, so much so that I would often exhaust myself because there was no let up. Out here, I’m definitely a lot better at giving myself time to enjoy, appreciate and to relax, but I’m still on the go all the time – I guess it’s just me, I really like being busy. But travelling has really made me understand that sometimes doing nothing can be the experience in itself. Just having that time to let it all sink in, to reflect on my experiences while I am out here. And this doesn’t just apply to me out here, I wish it was something I had done more of when I was at home, perhaps then I wouldn’t have felt such a need to get away from it all.
I think it is something we all could learn – to appreciate “Dolce Far Niente” as it is called in Eat Pray Love – anyone who has seen the film or read the book will remember the description by the Italian guy of “The Sweetness of Doing Nothing”. That we shouldn’t feel guilt for taking time out to just be still and at peace instead of sitting in front of mindless and brain numbing TV, instead of rushing around like a crazy person, and instead of expecting so much of ourselves all the time. Look at the way we greet each other after a long day at work – “what did you do today?” Like the success of our whole day is measured around what we achieved, what we ticked off our list, and if it isn’t enough, we feel guilty or lazy. Why don’t we ask what has made us happy today, or what has made us smile?
They say travelling changes you, but I disagree, I don’t think it changes you. I think it just brings you out of yourself – into the person you always had potential to become. It just takes all of those pressures of society, family, friends and the rest away, allows to you to breathe and to look at what you want to do, for yourself, and not for anyone else. After a tough two years of putting insane pressure on myself by working so much, studying, writing both for this blog and for the festival website, plus keeping up with my family, friends and my boyfriend – it became too much. I removed myself from the whole situation and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier. I no longer feel pressure to achieve, achieve, achieve at work, or to write when I’m exhausted so I don’t disappoint myself or my readers – now I do things because I truly want to, and if feels great.
I’m writing this post in the middle of a week spent in Phuket Town, which is actually becoming one of my favourite places so far. It’s so bohemian here, full of amazing little coffee shops and cafes that are filled with books and art, so quiet I almost think I am the only person to discover them, and totally inspiring for writing. Through these heavenly little discoveries, I have truly found the sweetness in doing nothing, which has in turn completely inspired me to write. The first visit to my favourite of these little cafes, The Gallery, I sat on a sofa covered in deliciously comfy pillows, I ate poached eggs and avocado on toast with salsa, I drank fruity smoothies and I read a magazine. The magazine was two months out of date, but it didn’t matter because I was outside my comfort zone, I was relaxing and feeling no urge to move or walk or do anything, I was just enjoying that moment of mindless food and reading. To put this in perspective, I genuinely haven’t read a magazine for about two years because I am always too busy.
Since then, I have spent lots of time doing the same, escaping to these little havens where smooth jazz versions of my favourite songs play in the background while I take in the art hanging on the walls, where I watch the world go by on the other side of the window and where I find my inspiration to write for you guys. I tried this a few times back at home, but the fast pace of life there always got to me and I always ended up tapping my feet, impatient to get on with the next thing, here I feel I am able to give myself this time without guilt or worry. It’s such a good feeling, but one I think can be achieved anywhere, it just depends on whether you will let yourself – I never did at home, but here I finally do. So how can you achieve this at home?
Try these tips and see how it works for you – if you saw my previous post on mindfulness, those tips are also great for this!
1. Turn off the TV
2. Give yourself 10 minutes a day to just sit
3. Lock yourself in a room, or go to a coffee shop, just anywhere you can be alone with your thoughts
4. Let your mind wander and appreciate everything around you
5. It might sound silly, but trust me, it makes a huge difference to your life and heck you deserve it!
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you give yourself enough time to just be?