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Why I was dreading my trip to New Zealand.

I wish I could say that I live a relaxed, stress-free life and that 'every day is like a holiday' but let's be real, who can really say that with absolute honesty? In fact, the lead up to my trip overseas was far from relaxing.

About a year ago, my parents announced that we were going to New Zealand for our first overseas family holiday in about 15 years. Woohoo! The date was in the diary and I was super excited to explore the land of the long white cloud.

But that feeling was short lived.

As January rolled around and we kicked off the new year, a holiday was far from the realm of possibility. I was way too busy for a holiday and how could I go away for 10 days after having time off at Christmas?? When people would ask if I was excited for my trip, I would fake a smile and say "yes!" even though deep down I was dreading the thought of leaving my animals and my business again so soon. It sounds ridiculous now, even to me but I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed by the 10 foot list of things I had to get done before we went away.

Up until the plane took off, I was checking emails and scanning the virtual list in my head for anything I'd forgotten to do and it wasn't until we stepped into the Christchurch airport that months of worry and angst melted away.

That was the moment I realised how much pressure I had put on myself to make sure everything was perfect while we were away when the reality is that nothing is ever going to be perfect. It was a swift kick in the backside to remind me that life shouldn't be so damn stressful all the time and my health and wellbeing is more important than making sure the house sitter puts the bins out on a Tuesday night.

I'm always talking to my clients about prioritising their physical and mental health and meanwhile I'm staying up late each night writing extensive lists and stressing about what I could forget to do before we make the big 2.5 hour plane ride.... to New Zealand... where there is wifi and phone reception...

It's as though I was planning for 10 days in the amazon jungle!

After returning home to the realisation that my pets were still alive, my clients were happy (some of which didn't even realise I had been away) and life had continued on perfectly well without me, my perception of life shifted slightly. I made a decision to take a different approach to the "oh-so-stressful" first world problems that were awaiting my return and here's what I've come up with as new rules to live by...

1. Holidays are important but feeling relaxed twice a year is not good enough.

How can I add 'holiday-like' relaxation into my routine more regularly? Maybe it means going to yoga more often or jumping into our van one weekend a month and driving down the coast for a night of phone-free, bliss. Yes please!! Stress is sometimes unavoidable but when it becomes a way of life, it can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing.

2. Being away makes you appreciate what you have at home and if it doesn't then you might need to make some changes.

By day 10 of our trip, I was ready to come home. Maybe it was because I missed my fur babies or because we wanted to enjoy the last bit of heat after 10 days of 0 degree temperatures, Whatever the reason, I didn't feel that awful dread about returning to reality. Don't get me wrong, returning to real life is never easy after a holiday but how you feel after time away can be a good indicator of whether it's time to make some changes. If you'd rather eat the spiky end of a pineapple than go back to work, it might be time to look into a new career.

3. Taking a break from social media is liberating and good for our relationships.

I have a very bad phone-checking habit. I said I would be better at putting my phone down in 2018 but alas! I'm still just as bad at mindlessly scrolling given the opportunity. There was a couple of nights in NZ when we had no access to phone signal or wifi and it was actually really awesome! My phone stayed in my bag (and fully charged) and we spent more time talking to each other than tagging each other in Facebooks posts. Forced phone-free time is sometimes essential if you don't have the self control to put it away (like me!)

4. Risk taking gives life a little oophm.

I have to admit that everything is a risk to me. I'm a worrier to the MAX so even the flight to New Zealand was cause for panic. The whole "feel the fear and do it anyway" thing is my theme for this year and I took risks in New Zealand that felt huge to me even though they probably wouldn't be to most people. Every step out of my comfort zone gives me more confidence by reminding me that 'I can do this and I probably won't die'. Don't get me wrong, I won't be bungee jumping anytime soon but I'm ticking off some bucket list items rather than just sitting at home thinking about it.

5. Doing what makes you happy should be an 'everyday thing' not just a 'holiday thing.'

We always have a list of things to do and it's rare that we ever have them all ticked off before something else gets added onto it but sometimes it's okay to stray from the day to day chores. Something as simple as jumping into the ocean for five minutes can help you to feel relaxed and refreshed for the rest of the day and the house can stay dirty for five more minutes, right? ;-) It's okay to choose fun sometimes.

After time away, we often pick up from where we left off as though nothing ever happened. Life is fleeting. We blink and the holiday is over or it's Christmas again and we are still finishing off the hot cross buns from Easter. How many times do we say things like "I can't believe it's the end of April" or "this year is going so fast"?

Well it is the end of April and how has your 2018 panned out so far? If it's not everything you hoped it would be then today's the day to set plans in motion for something new. Anything to make life a little more exciting because we only live once after all.

Here's to a happy and healthy you,

Alyssa x x

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