Keeping the holiday vibe alive

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Claire Pepper

Midlife is hectic and demanding. One of my aims since returning from Italy in July, has been to try to bring the holiday vibe into everyday life. To spend more time outside, more time reading books and more time away from a screen. The lovely end of summer weather is helping the outdoors part, which is important because according to research ‘having contact with nature significantly reduces stress hormone levels.’ The journal Frontiers in Psychology prescribes ‘nature pills’ or taking 20 to 30 minutes each day to walk or sit outside. I like this idea and would include cycling to work as one of my nature pills  – and I must try harder to step away from the computer and go for a walk at lunchtime. This doesn’t always happen (ask my lower back). At the weekend Mr That’s Not My Age and I can often be found walking through our local London parks, along the River Thames or up to the woods for some therapeutic Forest Bathing. The Japanese practise of Shinrin-Yoku provides beneficial effects and has been described as ‘a mindful time spent under a canopy of trees for health and wellbeing purposes.’

But as work gets busier, I can feel the relaxed holiday vibe ebbing away. We are currently recording Series 2 of the podcast and I am trying to get my head around the No Time To Retire project. Thanks again for the amazing response and your heartfelt comments and emails (we are hoping to have replied to everyone by the end of this week), please bear with me while I consider the next steps. I want to do this justice, to provide helpful advice alongside relatable stories, but to be honest, having completely underestimated the enormity of the issue this is going to take a wee bit longer than I had envisaged.

Today, one of my friends recommended the Pomodoro Technique. Named after founder Francesco Cirillo’s tomato kitchen timer, this is a time-management system that helps improve productivity and concentration. The idea is to focus on one activity for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break. And repeat. I’m rubbish at multi-tasking, I like to focus on one task, get it done and move on. I just need to remember to take the regular breaks. This can be done the old-school way with a traditional timer or by using your phone/ downloading an app. For more information there is a paperback Pomodoro book.

When I interviewed Lucinda Chambers for the podcast, after we’d finished recording, we had a good gossip about Vogue (my lips are sealed) and discussed how intensive freelance life can be. She told me one of her life hacks is to ‘bubble wrap’ meetings. Building time into her busy schedule either side to allow not only for travel delays and appointments running over but to take the pressure off. Top tip. I’m going to start bubble-wrapping everything…


Style Notes: this is the COS striped shirtdress I bought for my holiday and my sale bargain sandals. Second-Hand Septemberists look away now:

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Midlife is hectic and demanding. One of my aims since returning from Italy in July, has been to try to bring the holiday vibe into everyday life.