Tuesday Tales: Who needs more holidays? – Donna Thistlethwaite

How great is it when you get to bask in the post holiday glow? That’s me right now – relaxed, recharged and ready for action as we move into the next quarter of 2022. Nothing like a destination holiday and some R&R to boost your wellbeing – something many of us have sorely missed over these last couple of years.

This time last week my days were filled with bush walks, snorkelling, swimming and long stretches in a hammock under a leafy canopy on the spectacular Great Keppel Island. Even if I was interested in staying connected with work my phone carrier instantly ruled that out.

It seemed appropriate to feature my holiday in a Tuesday Tale because it truly has left me feeling amazing but I wasn’t sure about an angle … then it hit me. I could share a few wellbeing boosting moments, including some takeaways from the awesome book I was devouring in the hammock.

Two of the most memorable moments, unsurprisingly, involved other people. The first was the people I connected with at our modest resort – the volunteers and fellow guests I struck up conversations with. It felt awesome to have the time and inspiration to be truly present in these conversations and to learn about their lives. The young man who had arrived on the island to work only days earlier from nearby Yeppoon. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done”, he said literally beaming. The beautiful soul who had been at the island for three weeks tending to the garden. She haled from Fiji but had been volunteering in various Queensland locations since the start of Covid. I feel joy in my body as I recall these delicious encounters.

The other involved my family and the friends we visited the island with, and particularly a six year old bundle of joy who is the son of two friends.  Let’s call him Andy. Energy and excitement bubble out of every one of this kid’s pores! As much at home with a football as a tutu, Andy loves to entertain and inspire others. For at least three of our five nights we were ushered into the living room of his family’s cabin where the curtains dividing the room doubled as his stage curtains and a bedside lamp was manoeuvred around to shine a spotlight on the star performer.

Somehow I ended up as Andy’s main backup dancer. Maybe my love of a boogey was a factor but I’m also conscious of the value of play in our lives – something I don’t always take the time to do. Now I’m not going to share the video evidence but I can tell you that each night we entertained our families and I literally laughed my head off (if you know me you’ll know I’ve got a big laugh and I love to use it). On one of the nights, I got so into it that Andy announced that the backup dancer only does half the show leading to even more hysterics on my part. Thank you for this opportunity to savour this experience because I can feel the joy rising again. Note for us all – savour that good stuff!!!

As for the book … I’m deep into Tara Brach’s “Radical Acceptance” which introduces some awesome wellbeing strategies. Here’s a few that I’m working on implementing in my post holiday life:

  • The pause. Tara recommends stopping and checking in with ourselves regularly during the day and before going into situations big and small. By thinking about what’s going on in our minds and, just as importantly, our bodies, we can choose to respond in ways that serve us and those we interact with better.
  • Accepting the emotions that arise. Tara highlights the importance of feeling our emotions. What resonated for me was using the words “And this”, “And this”, as different emotions come through us. I’m personally still getting used to sinking into my body – I’ve spent most of my life living in my head and it’s a new skillset that I’m keen to develop as part of my evolution.
  • Exploring emotions such as fear. Through sharing client’s experiences Tara demonstrates how we can engage with our emotions, eg. sitting with our fear, questioning “How big are you?” “What do you want me to know?”
  • Treating ourselves and others with loving kindness. Looking back I can see how much of a hard time I can sometimes give myself and I know I’m not alone. Tara suggests meeting ourselves with love – holding ourselves in the way we wish to be held. This is something I’ve been working on a bit after hearing Mel Robbins share her Hi5 mirror technique and I’d have to say it’s been helpful.

I will have in no way done Tara’s book justice in this short Tuesday Tale but I’d recommend it and I’d love to know what you think if you decide to take a read.

I’m keen to see how long I can keep my post holiday glow going. Maybe some time in the hammock on our deck will help! Let’s see if I can schedule that in the diary!

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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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