Sometimes, you need a few moments in life to sit back and relax. As fourth year at uni takes its toll on me (or more like, punches me right in the face) and work takes up most of my free time, I often find myself gasping for breath and needing a few moments to close my eyes and step away from it all.
I used to think that stressful times were the best times, as you have no time to think – or overthink – things, just quickly moving through the days and hardly realising what is happening around you. For an over-thinker like me, it was a sort of treat, as it prevented me from spending too much time munching over past events, forcing me to constantly be on the move and not give anything a second thought. With fourth year quickly going past and two jobs keeping me occupied 24/7, it’s sad to say I barely had the time to even talk to my friends or family, who rightfully made me notice how little time I was devoting to them without even realising it, to the point where even I started to think maybe it was a bit too much. I needed a break.
The opportunity to do so took its form in my former Rotterdam flatmate, who decided to visit me for a few days in the not-so-sunny Aberdeen. As he himself has been working on his thesis for University, we found each other agreeing on the fact that a break from it all was more than needed, therefore quickly got on the internet to find a close-by spot.
We found our place in a small, secluded hut in the Scottish countryside, about half an hour away from Aberdeen by train. The place was listed on Airbnb as an “off-grid” living experience, which kind of made me laugh as it’s funny how the mainstream, hipster vibe of off-grid living is now allowing people to put up the most random accommodations up for grabs on the web. Either way, the small hut actually answered our needs perfectly, as it had no power sockets, wifi or outside distractions, completely immersed in the Scottish woods and requiring us to rely on natural elements to get by.
We spent the afternoon cutting wood, which I found way more entertaining than I originally thought. I also decided to give myself the nickname of “Elena the woodchopper”, as I personally think I have a gift for this particular activity. We then spent the rest of our time playing some games, cooking in the hut and focusing on the here-and-then, leaving out the daily worries that characterise our normal lives in the city.
Surrounded by trees, the small hut contained all amenities one could ask for. From a proper stove to cook, to kitchen utensils, to blankets and a beautiful wood burner to keep yourself warm through the night, it served as a perfect off-grid lair to hide in for a few days, keeping us away from outer world distractions and giving us the opportunity to fully live in the moment.
Although it might sound stupid – or needless – to say, going away for a couple days really does help you to distance yourself from daily preoccupations, especially when there is no wifi for anyone to contact you. The absence of the internet can give you a sort of freedom that we sometimes forget we have, enabling us to just be by ourselves without the constant interconnection that technology represents. Especially during stressful times, this ability to unplug can seriously help you calm down and see things more clearly, as nothing else is there to distract your mind.
In these situations, time can also seem like an insurmountable mountain. “How are we going to spend the time?”, I found myself thinking as soon as we got there. As it was only 3pm and we had two full days ahead of us, I was kind of worried that the lack of any outside activities would be too much to handle and we’d end up getting bored. I was soon proved wrong, as we realised engaging in outdoor activities such as cutting the wood, collecting all the water for cooking, heating up the cabin and playing some games took up more time than we thought. Actually being able to enjoy the moment makes you lose track of time, especially when you’re with someone that you enjoy the company of, and that’s something that in this day and age we sometimes find hard to believe unfortunately.
The experience got me thinking a lot though, and I couldn’t help but wonder when enough is enough and why we are feeling so stressed that we need such a drastic break from our daily lives. Is it possible that “normal” life is wearing us out so much that we need a throwback to older, simpler times when we didn’t have all the comforts we are presented with today, where we had to work to obtain things and where nothing came from granted? With the advancement of technology, isn’t it strange how natural it feels to actually go back to times when this didn’t exist?
I munched on these thoughts as I sipped my tea out in the open, smoking a cigarette and listening to the wind. Isn’t it odd how travel as far as you want, your mind will always catch up with you and take you back to your good, old worries? While running away can be a good thing, helping you clear your mind a bit before returning, it’s also quite worrying how widespread this need is and it made me realise I should perhaps work on my daily routine and find ways to relax and breathe without feeling the necessity to constantly unplug from it all.
What do you guys think about this? Do you often feel the need to unplug and if so, what are your tricks to do that without being too extreme? Do you think a couple of days out there in the open can really help?
Either way, I hope you’re all having a lovely day and I will see you at the next blog post!