This year we spent our family holiday in the Cotswolds and the the city of St Davids in Wales. One thing I noted during the break was that I immediately felt physically better than when I was working.
I’m not someone who suffers from stress at work but I do have to take prescription medicine for high blood pressure and reflux. While I couldn’t speak to my blood pressure level, the symptoms of my reflux were much less evident than usual.
This got me thinking of the importance of making ‘breathing space’.
I think of the idea of breathing space as a pause for relaxation.
The photograph above was taken in the house we stayed in while at Chipping Campden, and one of my greatest pleasures there was to open those doors, sit on the steps, admire the view and enjoy reading a good book while sipping a glass of malt whisky with my family around me.
Back in the ‘real world’ it’s much harder to achieve this state with all the competing demands for time. However, having felt the benefits, I’m determined to try to cultivate daily habits that make time for regular breathing space.
One of my favourite words has always been ‘desultory’ as coupled with the idea of pottering about and doing things for pleasure. My aim is to allow some breathing space by cultivating some or all of these activities every day:
- Reading for pleasure. Mindfully, as if each book were to be discussed with a fellow-reader or a book group
- Listening to music
- Write something (by hand) for pleasure. Perhaps notes or thoughts on a book, one of those rare letters to a friend or an outline for a blog post (as I’m writing this by hand now)
- Take walks, but with a purpose, even if only to see things in familiar locations.
- Play with and listen to family members.
- Regularly enjoy a small glass of something, but slowly and with pleasure.