The definition of relaxation

the state of being free from tension and anxiety
synonyms: mental repose, composure; calm, tranquillity, peacefulness, calming oneself, loosening up, unwinding, winding down

There is only one moment in my whole year where I feel completely relaxed. I’m in the water on the Monday morning at the end of my weekend away with friends at Centerparcs that I take every January.

It’s the moment that follows a weekend of unwinding, the moment that precedes thoughts of returning home.

It’s taken the whole weekend to reach the state of my body being free from tension. This year I had jaw and tooth ache as the tension that had been building up in that area started to loosen up (my husband had mentioned last week how I’d started grinding my teeth…)

It’s taken the whole weekend to reach the state of my mind being free from anxiety. I felt calm, at peace about the future. In that moment, all felt well with the world.

There was no flash of inspiration this year. Last year in that place at that time, the idea for Pretty Vintage Life first came to me. It was so exciting and inspiring. This year, I didn’t need exciting and inspiring. I needed reassurance and I got it. A calm composure that everything I had in place in my world was at it should be and that I only needed to focus my mind and body on carrying on with what has already been started.

So what is the recipe for arriving at this point of total relaxation once every year? What are the key ingredients?

  1. Laughter  Boy, did we laugh a lot. It started in Starbucks when we first arrived and carried on all weekend.
  2. Water  Water makes such a difference. The outside pool was so hot that steam was rising from the surface of the water. I could almost feel my anxiety melting away and the tension in my shoulders dissipating away into the water.
  3. Time and Space  Literally nothing to do. Nowhere to be. No one to please. I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.
  4. Comfortable with the others  This has taken time. The same group of us have been going away together once a year for 18 years! We go way back. We don’t see each other much through the year but as soon as we walk through the door, we pick up where we left off. We can be ourselves.
  5. Familiar surroundings  Not only is it the same people but it’s the same lodge. We have the same bed, the same layout, the same walk to the centre and pool and spa and restaurant. There’s no thinking involved. We relax straight into it straight away.

It’s OK that I only feel like I do right now once a year. This is my baseline. My measure of how it should be. Could be. I do relax at other times, of course I do, but not to this extent. This is my personal definition of relaxation. I know this is possible. I know there’s a Monday already in the diary for next January where I will feel this again.

And until then, I can work on not letting tension and anxiety build up in my system. I can remember to breathe, relax my shoulders and jaw. I can slow down and be more mindful.

Thanks girls, it’s been great. See you all next year!


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