Discover more from My Goodness! From Jo Elvin
The secret to finding more time for you
It's really not a secret
I missed last Sunday’s usual newsletter slot, sorry. I was making my way back from Mallorca where I’d been lucky enough to visit The Body Camp, the fitness and wellness retreat. I spent four days hiking, circuit training, swimming, yoga-ing, running and - best of all - laughing until my insides hurt along with my fellow 22 camp mates and the excellent team of trainers and chefs. Even the ice bath I got into at 6.50am on a Saturday morning was enormous fun. Seriously.
It was a transformative few days in which I actually relaxed. For real. Very little time with my phone. A lot of sitting by the pool and really talking to the other lovely people there. To think I nearly deprived myself of the experience. When I first received the email invitation back in February, I let my default response kick in. ‘Oh I won’t have time for that,’ I said to myself, in probably less than a second. But somehow, I managed to catch myself. ‘Elvin (long time readers will know I scold myself by addressing myself by my surname), didn’t you walk away from full-time employment to allow time for the odd treat like this? Well… didn’t you?’ I was right and Elvin was being a dick. Again. Fuck it, I thought. Make space for this in your diary.
It turned out to be one of the biggest gifts I’ve given myself in quite some time for so many reasons. Even on the flight over, when I found myself sitting next to the wonderful Bryony Gordon..
I’ve known Bryony for years. We’d have both, before this trip, said we were friends. But that friendship has mostly been the odd snatched quick chat at some work function or another. Neither of us are prone to small talk or under-sharing and that 75 minutes in the air got deep very quickly. I knew I liked Bryony. Now I know I adore her. And we hadn’t even got to The Body Camp yet.
Once there, I met 21 other people who all brought the same attitude I did - go with it, relinquish, let the people running things just tell us what to do and do it, give it your best, most positive shot. Our group was made of fitness obsessives, as well as those who admit that a walk to the shop is a bit of a stretch. We were every shape and size and age and fitness level, with some even recovering from serious illness or injury. And the Body Camp staff made it work for everyone. There were moments of being pushed out of our comfort zone but with kind encouragement, not judgement.
One of the loveliest things for me was watching people transform. Faces got softer, eyes clearer. The cripplingly shy woman who couldn’t look anyone in the eye one day one who hugged me like an old friend on day three. The young person who had no idea just how much they’d needed to talk about their self-imposed stress and found willing ears in these people they’d never met. It was four days that left me feeling healthier and fitter, for sure. But it was four days of being immersed in enjoying everyone being their friendliest, kindest, funniest selves. It’s that that has given me the biggest afterglow.
Sorry if I’m being a massive cheese ball right now but that’s how great it was.
If you’re tempted, and you book by tomorrow, you can use the code JO10 and get yourself 10% off any room. Check it out.
Anyway, I ended up sharing something with the group that, to my surprise, was an unheard of concept to many of them. So, apologies if this is no revelation to you, but it definitely seemed to be for quite a few of our group.
A couple of people were discussing the age-old problem of finding time for yourself in a busy schedule. Do you know how to make sure you get some? Diarise it.
I schedule that time for myself in the same way I would any other meeting. It could be an exercise class - I’m going to the Peloton studio next Sunday and I could not be more excited. It could be a facial or a massage. In fact I’ve realised I don’t have either of those in the diary and now I’m going to make sure I schedule one in. It could honestly be that I need two hours next Friday to just have absolutely nothing scheduled in. I will write that ‘two hours of nothing’ into my diary and it will be honoured in the same way I would a strategy meeting for in my job as CEO of a charity.
Life is busy. Life is hard. No doubt. But this short trip away really reminded me that time out for myself is not selfish. It’s not some trivial indulgence to be squeezed in, apologetically, as always the least important thing on your to-do list. It’s as important a part of our health as nutrition, sleep and movement.
Don’t roll your eyes at me, because of course I know it’s easier said than done.
But it’s diarising time for myself that really helps sustain me through incredibly hectic working weeks. My first week back after the Easter break is full-on. But if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed by it I will look at the parts of my diary I have cordoned off from the real world for only me. Sometimes I even lie to make sure no one squeezes in four meetings behind my back. No one else has to know that that ‘meeting’ I have written in there is in reality an hour I’ve blocked out to go and sit in the park with a sandwich on a Friday afternoon. But I don’t think snatching time - formally - for me, is a crime.
Try it. Diary in a walk, or a sleep, or if you’re feeling like you want your brain kicked in a different direction, schedule a weird film that no one else is interested in seeing, or that restaurant near your office that you’ve always been curious about.
I used to feel selfish doing this stuff just for me. But it gives me space to breathe and get ready for my next assault course back in reality.
I’m telling you this because so many people on my trip had never thought to actually create space in their week just for them. We’ve been trained to think that a successful working life always looks crammed and busy. I’m telling you that it’s possible to be busy, and get everything done and yet still see appointments in your diary that have nothing to do with anyone else but you.
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