The Importance of Taking a Break For Managing Endometriosis
I have never forgotten a friend once telling me about the importance of taking a break to her. Every six weeks she'd be off somewhere, to Manchester, to Spain, or on a longer holiday. It didn't have to be expensive, it didn't have to be for days on end, it just needed to be away from everything. It restored her, gave her energy and new spirit. I found the comment interesting, but at the time, I had too much to do, too much to pay for and too much to worry about, to try and fit in taking a break every six weeks. I was used to the grind and the struggle and once I was through that, I'd give myself a break then.
In the summer, I had some weddings to attend, lots of them in fact. Up until these, I had spent the last year and a half waiting for my operation, struggling with maintaining work, changing jobs and pushing forward. By the beginning of this year, I simply couldn't stop for breath. I had my operation in June and five days later had to be up and about leading the hen do I had arranged. Needless to say I was exhausted and hadn't spent any time or money on giving myself some time off and taking a break.
What I had done however, was booked a couple of nights extra around my friend's wedding at one of the most beautiful Airbnb's I've ever stayed at. The Shepherd's Hut was like some kind of magical dream, we walked down a secluded path by the side of an old stone cottage, which opened up to a patch of green filled with fruit trees, herbs and flowers and there in the sunlight, stood an impeccably designed and restored Shepherd's hut. The inside was finished beautifully, every inch was lovely, the fridge was filled with elderflower cordial, champagne, sparkling water and chocolate, and a basket of sourdough bread and biscuits sat on the side.
Outside, the dream became even more gorgeously surreal, there was a fire pit ready for an evening of barbecuing , two chairs and a table, and then, past the bees and lavender, a secluded corner where a hot tub and garden seating overlooked a field of yellow flowers. I don't think I have ever experienced anything quite like it.
The first day was blazing with sun and we spent a short time in the bath tub sipping champagne, before cooking our dinner on the fire, but we had lots of prep to do for the wedding and as a bridesmaid, I couldn't spend too long in the water for fear that my fake tan would come off! The wedding was beautiful and the weather again was sunny, but we returned during the early hours of the morning and promptly passed out on the delicious white fluffy bed.
Giving Yourself Permission
Yet it was the next day, our final day, that was the most magical of them all. We woke gently, to the sound of tapping at the window and a low lit room. Pulling back the curtains, we were met with a grey sky and misty rain falling across the fields and garden - to some, this might have been disappointing, to me, it was permission - permission to not spend the day exploring and fitting in as much as I could. I had already ruled the endodiet out for the wedding, though was extra careful in the lead up, so put on some coffee and toast and climbed back into bed, to flick through the magazines and maps left out for us by our host. We watched the rain pour and relaxed into the knowledge that we had no where to go and nothing to do. I'd also recently given myself permission to watch some series occasionally, as a way to switch off, so we completed Stranger Things, which lulled me into a comfort, reminding me of a childhood spent reading too much Stephen King and James Herbert. At some point, several biscuits and teas later, we put away the bed and pulled out the comfy seating and table and watched Pocahontus, which turned into a sing-along, for me at least. The rain cleared at about 4pm, so we pulled on some clothes and walked the country paths, admired some manor homes from afar and then made our way back for dinner.
Why I Recommend Taking a Break from your Everyday Life
After we returned home, I had a sort of glow inside for days after. That day could have been a week, I felt so restored and at peace and I think it triggered a pivotal moment for me. Taking a break, as short as it was, began the process of healing, in my body, mind and soul. As simple as it all was, watching films, sitting in bed, eating good food - there was something about being in a comforting and new environment, where I didn't have to worry about the bills associated with the place, or the cleaning, or the hardship I had endured in that environment. That sense of freedom and self-indulgence let me fully relax, it allowed my brain to finally stop checking the to-do lists, wander to the back of my mind, where I had hidden all the depression and endo struggles and do its work on restoring me again.
I've since been to Greece and was energised and inspired by it's beauty and to Copenhagen, where I warmed and comforted by their culture and good food. My point is, this year and last year, I've taken evenings and days to sit in bed and watch a few films and eat some food and yes, I feel better afterwards, I feel a bit more relaxed and pleased with myself that I indulged in some 'me' time, but I never feel as restored as I do when taking a break, taking a real break. Visiting somewhere else, whether you stay in all day or roam the streets, can do so many things for you. It can help heal you mind, body and spirit, it takes you away from a place you can sometimes associate with the struggle, it can bring you to life again with excitement, curiousity and inspiration, it can motivate you to want more out of life when you had just felt like giving up.
It can be costly yes, especially if you work part time, but have a look at Airbnb or HomeAway, EasyJet and Ryan Air, what can you sacrifice for a night's stay, train fare and/or a cheap flight? I changed who I shopped with, spent less at the weekends and put a little more on my credit card, but I worked it out. If it's going to leave you broke and destitute, of course, don't put yourself in that position, but look around, now more than ever there are affordable options for taking a break, so do some research before you completely rule it out.
Managing endometriosis isn't just about knowing when to go to bed and when to take a day of rest, it's about enriching your life with culture and joy, nourishing your soul with new experiences and explorations. It's these things which will remind you of all the good stuff life has to offer and sometimes, quite honestly, we endosisters need reminding of that. <3