Every few Sundays, I create an ‘escape hatch from life’ for myself.
Sometimes that hatch is heading off on a camping adventure up the coast, like last weekend’s mini-break to Myall Lakes. But other times, it’s simply switching off my mobile late on a Saturday night, sticking it in a drawer, and not pulling it back out again until Monday morning.
It wasn’t until I started doing this that I realised how much I needed this regular break from the modern world.
I mean I was aware of my rampant social media usage, and the fact that I usually check my email about 503 times a day. But once my phone is in that drawer, or stashed away somewhere on a camping trip, I realise how often I reach for it throughout the day for other things too.
To play music off Spotify. To listen to my beloved podcasts (if you aren’t listening to S-Town or On Being right now, you really must). To take photos. To call friends, to read books, to make notes… it really is endless.
So stepping off that train, at least for one day every few weeks, is a soul resuscitation.
It gives me a chance to get out into nature, to properly connect with the people around me, and to forget about the often frenetic pace of my work life for a little while. Come Monday morning, I feel better than if I’d had an entire week’s holiday (alas, for a travel writer there really is no such thing as a holiday, so this is the closest thing for me nowadays!)
For anyone else out there who often feels completely overwhelmed by the tidal wave of words and images that are thrown at us through our screens each day, I couldn’t recommend the practice (and it has indeed become a practice) more highly.
And if you want to recreate our little escape hatch getaway to Myall Lakes, you can for the bargain price of $16 a night. We stayed at Mungo Brush, at the quieter northerly campsite right on the lake where pelicans, kookaburras and swans were feeding.
We had a sunset picnic by the lake, then wandered over to the beach on the other side for a dusk skinny dip with a pod of dolphins (yes, seriously). We cooked a barbecue feast which we ate under the stars, drank too much wine, met a dingo that I thought was a dog and tried to coax into our tent. In the morning, we drank tea in our sleeping bags while the rain pattered down on the roof, then hiked through the glossy rainforest.
We were away for just over 24 hours, but came home feeling completely refreshed and ready to tackle the week ahead. Self care at its finest.