I Want to Get Away...

I've just returned home from a week in beautiful Oslo, Norway. I was staying with a friend of mine, and while I was there I pondered on a lot of things about my trip.

I thought about the fact that we hadn't seen each other in a long time, and about how distance can change the way interpersonal relationships grow and mature in both positive and negative ways.

I thought about the internet and how it makes these long-distance relationships more feasible now than ever, how it revolves around our lives and our lives revolve around it in this fascinating symbiosis. I thought about how it interacts with my life and hers - I have this blog, she has a cool knitting podcast.

I thought about panic attacks - I got caught in the grips of a mild one brought on by a mixture of being overwhelmed and tired and far from home, and had a brief conversation with my friend about them - and how symptoms and causes vary from person to person. How broad and varied the subject of Mental Health really is.

Mostly, however, I thought about the idea of escape. I thought about how great it feels to run away sometimes. I thought about standing at the top of Holmenkollen and looking out, or watching the rush of the waves and the blue of the water in the fjord when we took a boat out to Gressholmen, and being a tiny bit afraid of the high heights of the depths of the sea but just being 'Somewhere Else'.

There is so much to be said for just being 'Somewhere Else'. For looking at the pile of worries you've been stacking unknowingly and saying, "all right, from this date to the next, you don't exist for me".

People warn against running from your problems all the time, but this isn't quite that. For some of us, when we stay in the same routine for too long, our triggers for anxiety and panic will increase. Things that don't usually bother us will start to become more irksome, and days will pass by in a miserable blur before you really realise it.

This isn't the case for everyone. Some of us get anxious without routine, need to know where they will be from hour to hour in order to function free of panic. That's perfectly common, in fact. But I still advocate a change of scenery for those of my readers that favour a more regimented life. Why not have a set week of the year where you're away somewhere that you love? Why not work out plans and itineraries and schedules for all the things you want to enjoy? You know how much I love a good list, and for me half the fun of going away somewhere is the planning. Checking every detail off your list is such a nice high before leaving, and puts you in the mood to properly enjoy yourself.

A Meditation

As the plane takes off, I like to look out of the window. I like to watch the world I'm familiar with separate from me, grow smaller and smaller until it stops seeming real all together, and finally it disappears under a blanket of clouds. It's an act of meditation - physically seeing your everyday worries and fears shrink until they become too small to even take seriously. You're shedding that weight as you leave, so once you're in the air you can head to your new destination with a new found clarity and openness. The same can be done on a bus, on a train, in a car, or even walking. Watch your everyday life and worries move further and further away from you, meditate on that feeling and the wonders of being free from your burdens. Take that light feeling into your destination, cherish it, learn how it feels, and see if you can return with it as well.

Carry That Peace

While I was away I was writing every day (sightseeing and binging on Agent Carter permitting.) I would wake up with waves of inspiration or just sit down to write out of curiosity and come up with something great. I had been shying away from the blog at home, afraid to type something because the words would sort of halt at the tips of my fingers. I felt an imaginary pressure to write everything perfectly because I really enjoy this blog and don't want to let down the people that read it. That, and I can't much concentrate at home with all of my creature comforts and easy distractions. But suddenly I'm out of my comfort zone and somewhere beautiful, and there's no more pressure or distraction. So I write, and it doesn't stop even now I'm back home. I've carried some of that peace with me back into London and it's keeping me going.

That, and dreaming of more adventure.

When things become tough and overwhelming, I cannot recommend a temporary escape enough. Taking a step back from your normal routine in order to think more clearly is the essence of mindfulness, and that's kind of what we're about in this place. And even if you're not into that, expanded horizons can open up new avenues and ideas for problem solving and stress relief. Allow yourself the chance to change your perspective on the things that drag you under, and learn how it feels to float.

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