One thing the last few years of travel has really taught me, is the importance of well being. The truth is, when you're travelling solo, there is no-one else to look after you and if you don't learn to take good care of yourself, you're not going to get the most out of every experience. I've really taught myself to slow down a bit over the last year, I've accepted that I don't have to do and achieve everything, that sometimes it's okay to sit back and just appreciate life instead of giving 110% and exhausting myself. I'm still learning, every single day, but I definitely have a better appreciation for what makes me happy both mentally and physically than I did when I was first travelling. What helps me be my best self? Lots of exercise, tasty, healthy food, a wide open horizon and lots of time spent outdoors. I've realised that being online is my job and to a certain extent, is a hobby, but that I can't let it dominate in any way because it really does impact on my mental health.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelOne thing that has really helped me to stay balanced over the years is gifting myself time. We're always so busy rushing around trying to do everything in our careers, relationships and in our free time, but sometimes we just need to give ourselves time to breathe. I was so guilty of never giving myself time to just be still, and I still am, but I'm trying my best to improve. And so, when an opportunity came up to review an Inner Peace Retreat with Psychologies Magazine, I jumped at the chance to spend a day deep in the countryside and really getting to know myself. Taking place at West Lexham Manor, near Norwich, the retreat offered a weekend spent focusing on psychology, mindfulness, creativity, meditation and movement set against the backdrop of the stunning grounds. What more could a girl want?Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelDriving up to West Lexham Manor through frozen fields and breathing in the crisp morning air, I instantly felt refreshed and ready for restoration of my mind, body and soul. The stunning grounds were the perfect place for that and I couldn't wait to explore more later on. On arrival, the organisers gave a warm welcome and ushered us into morning tai chi in the beautifully restored barn which has been purposefully created for group events and weddings. With sunshine beaming through the windows and birdsong in the background, we started the day by warming up our aching bodies and minds led by neuroscientist Dr Tamara Russell, who was definitely one of the most memorable characters from the weekend. After the session, we went for breakfast in the sun-drenched hall, and it was clear to see the emphasis on well being from the delicious, healthy meal of locally sourced ingredients that awaited us.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelWe were back in with Dr Tamara for our first session of the day, Practical Models for Exploring Body and Mind, which was a fascinating insight into neuroscience and psychology, but with a real life context that made it easily accessible for anyone new to the topic. Tamara used various exercises to look at the way we relate to ourselves and how that affects us in our daily life when we make decisions or react to situations. After studying a bit of neuroscience and psychology at university, I've always been fascinated by models like these and how they can be used to understand why we are the way we are. We all found this workshop so interesting and helpful that it actually ran over into the break and later I could hear many of those attending the retreat continuing the discussion over lunch.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelLater on we had another workshop, this time with Suzy Greaves, editor of Psychologies Magazine, which was one I was really excited for. Being a journalist, I'm always looking to develop my skills in any way I can, so a journaling/writing workshop with Suzy seemed perfect for me. This time we had an opportunity to get outside and breathe in the fresh air and to take in the sights, sounds and smells as we wandered around the grounds. Nature is so soothing, and despite being based in North Norfolk, I find that lately I haven't had a chance to just get outside and appreciate it, something that I'm sure has caused me to feel a bit stressed out. We were told to just write freely, uninterrupted by others and uninterrupted by thoughts of how we should write. I let my hand glide across the page and all of us taking part felt our innermost thoughts and feelings pour out on to the page. I was amazed at what came out, what I'd been holding in and finally just had to explode across the page, pure stream of consciousness.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelWe enjoyed a leisurely lunch - let me tell you the food was just incredible - followed by a chance to explore the grounds with owner Edmund Colville, as he discussed the retreat and the lay-lines around his family home. Later that afternoon, we had our final workshop of the day, which was easily my favourite and really left an incredible impression on me. The 5 Rhythms Movement workshop with meditation teacher Chris Connors forced the group to throw away all inhibitions, stresses and worries, and to really let loose. We're talking 90 minutes of dancing freely as a mass and an individual to various pieces of music, and by the end of the session, everyone was exhausted but liberated, making their way out of the barn with smiles on faces and a new sense of peace. I thought I was pretty relaxed before I walked into that workshop, but I can tell you I felt like a completely different person by the time I walked out of it and I know every single person in that room felt exactly the same. Sadly I had to leave after this workshop and didn't get a chance to chat to the others over dinner, but the whole experience was beyond anything I could have hoped.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelWhether you need stillness, a chance to slow down or if you are searching for inner peace, these workshops give you a chance to take a time-out in the unspoilt beauty of West Norfolk. If this sounds like something that would be right up your street, there will be many other retreats taking place this year which focus on yoga, mindfulness and body confidence, and another Psychologies Inner Peace Retreat is in the pipeline. Both men and women attended and while some were more interested in the psychology, others were going through some huge life changes, but all felt just as welcome and came away with a genuine sense of inner peace. Find out more and book at www.westlexham.org

*Images provided by West Lexham Manor

Have you been to a retreat? Would you like to attend one? How do you find peace in your daily life?

Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK Travel


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? 

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