Most of us work to live. We rarely break from routine. We commute, then execute a range of tasks, some mundane, some challenging, and then we go home. We follow the same routine day in and day out, year in and year out, and start to become creatures of very dull habit. Often we find ourselves having the same conversations and reactions, over and over. Other symptoms include boredom, taking life for granted and stifled creativity. Sound familiar?
Add in stress, a recession and working the longest hours in Europe (with the least days off!) and you may wonder what exactly you’re getting out of your life.
There’s only one thing for it: you need to break from routine!
We need to periodically throw off the shackles of adulthood and be a bit wild. It keeps our brains young, our bodies healthy and our hearts light. If getting wild sounds a bit too much, or conjures up strange images, consider instead that it simply means to get in touch with our less uniformed and structured selves.
In a sterile office environment we can easily forget we’re sensory creatures, locked in our minds, staring at a screen for hours on end, world shut out. A great antidote is to re-engage the senses by getting out into nature – and really rambling in it.
Try scrambling up a steep hill. Not in the weird grown-up way of standing upright, but literally hands and knees, the way we did as kids. And don’t be afraid to get dirty!
Living in a more physical way, using our full range of senses, and being aware of our bodies, gives us a break from intellectualising everything. Our addled brains get a rest, and in the space that opens up we reawaken our childlike wonder and allow plenty of creative inspiration in.
You don’t have to travel far to get to nature: parks, canal paths and botanical gardens abound in the UK, and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, walking barefoot in the cool grass is superb for a quick fix. Mixing up the routine freshens up the mind and even relieves stress.
However, getting away for longer periods is crucial in the longer term. Green spaces are certainly soothing, but so is the sea and its sandy (or pebble) beaches, a field of lavender or a peaceful savannah. Nature works. Perhaps it connects us with our ancient inner core, which still remembers what it’s like to be an animal, the wilder version that likes to break from routine.
Taking a longer time away is important to allow your brain to unwind. You begin to adjust to a different pace: you stop marching and start to stroll; rather than reacting you reflect; and instead of issuing commands you begin to pause and breathe…
Then you‘ll soon find you won’t need to question what you’re getting out of life after all.