Everyone has a ‘happy place’, much as it’s a clichéd saying, it’s true. Everyone has somewhere that they go to, to escape, to breathe, to forget about their problems for a while, or at least have somewhere to process said problems and to enjoy some time with only themselves for company. Sometimes though, I find that life gets busy and takes over and you never visit this place anymore. Or if you do, it’s rarely and not necessarily on your own and therefore it doesn’t serve the above purpose.
If I’m being honest, whilst still keeping a sense of vagueness so my entire life isn’t plastered over the internet, this past week has not been my best one. It went downhill from last Monday onwards and with a few shocks and turns, is hopefully moving forwards again. On Monday evening though, I came home feeling utterly miserable and with no Aidan at home, I decided to go back to my happy place.
I went outside. In to the local countryside which for me is (very luckily) Epping Forest. I went back to the natural environment that has filled me with wonder and a sense of calm for as long as I can remember.
My actual favourite place in the entire world is a big old twisted oak tree on Dartmoor, down by a little stream. We call it the picnic tree due to many summer picnics sat under the shade of that tree when on family holidays. A few years ago when I had a job interview in Devon, I went straight back there and back to the tree to spend the morning sat down by the river reading my book and it was so peaceful. I just feel truly calm there.
Unfortunately I live the other side of the country from Dartmoor now but with Epping Forest a mere 10 minutes drive from me, I got home from work and within half an hour was at the forest, setting off along the path by the lake. It was the best decision I’d made in years.
I never think to go outside when I’m not feeling great anymore and that’s something that I need to change. I curl up on the sofa and hide away from the world literally instead of just metaphorically.
Being outside again made me realise how lucky I was having spent 4 years outside at University. My degree is in Countryside Management yet I spend most of my time now in the very centre of London in an office. I’m really hoping that soon I can change that and move back into a sector that yes, has it’s downsides, but is completely outweighed by being able to spend large parts of the time out in the open, in the fresh air and surrounded by the wonder of the natural environment. There is so much natural beauty out there and so much to discover if only we stop and take a moment.
On my little Monday night ramble I trekked off the track a bit to go and stand amongst the beautiful swathes of bluebells, a sight that gets enjoyed for only a short time each year. I then was able to watch a family of rabbits (with some really, REALLY cute babies!) hopping about on a bit of open ground enjoying the evening sunshine and it was so lovely to just forget myself completely for a few minutes and watch them going about their daily life.
I walked past the beautiful hawthorn trees in full bloom, admiring their beauty that disguises such a prickly character. Just stopping for a minute was what I needed most. Stopping somewhere quiet, serene and bigger than me, to make me put my problems into perspective.
I came away, having spent some time on a bench eating the cookies I’d bought with me and watching the waterfowl preparing to bed down for the evening, feeling relaxed and calm. Most of all I came away remembering what it’s like to spend time in your happy place, entirely on your own and the importance of that.
My aim, in this bid to be the healthier and best version of myself is to make more time for me to be outside, in the place that I love the most.