Switching Off - Freeing Your Mind From Work

Last week we turned off all the plugs in the house, made sure we’d locked the door properly, and headed off for a short break.

It was the first time that we’d been away ovenight with Jacob, so we knew it was going to be a learning curve. It wasn’t going to be sitting by the pool, sipping a beer as the sun warms us. Then again, after parenthood, is it ever that again? Maybe in a (good) few years time.

After an overnight stay with his grandparents, where he adapted to sleeping in his new surroundings without any issue at all, we headed south to St Annes, and a hotel that I used to go to as a kid with my family. It holds fond memories, and having gone back with his family my brother reported that it was just as good and family orientated as it was back then. A last minute booking and we were off!

The weather was fantastic, the people welcoming, and Jacob took to it all so well we ended up staying another night to extend our holiday a little. A very welcome break.

Escaping It All

But you don’t ever really switch off when you are self-employed. I guess it’s the same as being a parent - you’re the one on watch, even when you aren’t officially on duty. It’s not really possible to push it all to one side. And it doesn’t feel right to either.

Returning from a holiday is always challenging because other than during the Festive period, your inbox keeps getting attacked, work continues elsewhere, and the world keeps on turning, just waiting for your return. Which leaves you having to get back up to speed as quickly as you can on those first few days back. The holiday you’ve just had becomes a distant memory.

With self-employment I find the challenge is less about that first day back and catching up, and more about how you make your thoughts, plans, concerns and questions meld away when you are actually on holiday. How you properly relax your mind, so your body will follow suit.

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Mindful To Be Mindful

I feel like I’m at a bit of a crossroads where I am workwise at the moment, so doing that for me this time was easy at times, and not so much at others. The freedom of being away from a computer allowed my thoughts to wander elsewhere, prompting new analysis and fresh ideas, along with the usual nagging doubts and imposter syndrome.

I’m not sure I’ve quite perfected the ‘walking away’ aspect of having your own business. I’m definitely better than I was, but given a free moment, my mind does tend to wander there. Which is annoying when it is 4am and you find your son has gone to sleep after his feed but you are wide awake. I wonder if that will change a little once I get set up for work somewhere outside the flat?

But even with the occasional work distraction dancing through my head like a Morris dancer who’s had too much Irn Bru, one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is to make sure you get a break at all. I was guilty of not doing so for a long time, going five years between summer holidays towards the end of my Young Scot days. Now I truly appreciate the value of getting away somewhere different and getting a fresh perspective to recharge the batteries. It’s crucial to your physical, emotional and mental health.

So if you’re holiday allowance is sitting unused, or if you’re a freelancer trying to decide if you can afford to go away, don’t think about it. Take a break (Kit Kat optional).