2020, A New Meaning to Staycation

In a pre-pandemic life I would never have considered taking a week’s worth of annual leave just to stay at home. Sure, I’ve taken a day or two off in the past to enjoy a long weekend or to run some errands, but a week off work would always equate to a holiday away to sunnier climates. Well this year has definitely been one of firsts, as last week I took a whole week off despite it being the pandemic – correction, particularly because of the pandemic. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in 2020.

I have always considered myself to be a pretty balanced person, but on reflection my days off have always been filled to the brim. There has always been a “purpose” to the day off. Being British, naturally the weather in the U.K. has played a huge factor in deciding when and if I would be “treating” myself to a long weekend. (N.B. Regardless of what the weather apps say, there is zero promise of nice weather.) I would wait for an occasion, a Summer holiday, for Chirstmas time, or just until I was beginning to experience burn out. Somehow simply taking a few days to actively look after my own wellbeing, enjoying my own company, or to simply rest and relax never seemed reason enough.

Over the last few years, I have always looked forward to the month of June as I have begun to associate it with the promise of down time. I would (without exception) spend between 7-10 days in the summer sun letting go of the stresses of life. It would be filled with getting some vitamin c whilst enjoying reading a book, sleeping in, and sharing a delicious meal in the company of my loved ones. So when my Summer holiday this year to Chicago for a family wedding was cancelled due to the coronavirus, I was really tempted to also cancel my days off work. “What was the point?”, I honestly thought to myself. Somehow taking time off to simply rest (before reaching the point of a near breakdown) was a waste if I couldn’t do all of these aforementioned things. However the more I mulled it over, the more I realized I could really use some time out. Even though the idea of taking time off to just stay in the house that I was locked in for over 100 days seemed mad to me.

The week of my staycation rolled in and contrary to my prior beliefs, it seemed my luck hadn’t quite run out for this year like I thought. A heatwave made it’s way over to the U.K., so I was lucky enough to sunbathe in my garden where I reignited my holiday ritual of picking up a good book. I decided to re-read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and let my mind escape to another world, even though my body could not.

However after a couple of days, inevitably the clouds reappeared and I wasn’t as immersed in the world of Hogwarts as I had been on Day 1 of my staycation. The idea of checking my work emails briefly crossed my mind. It seemed tempting considering that the line (which happened to be a train line) that once separated these two worlds, had now become blurred. However I fought the idea off and made deliberate decisions to distinguish between the two again. Simple actions like preparing a different breakfast every day, helped kick me back into holiday mode. Nonetheless, I still maintained the mentality that I was going to be really productive and utilize this time off. I planned to wake up at my normal time and I made a list of all the things I wanted to do. I knew the amount possible that I could achieve in a working day so surely I would be able to do double in my own free time?! I suppose in essence, yes I could have done just that. But a voice in my head kept repeating that this was my time off. I should be enjoying it rather than adding pressure to what had already been an overwhelming few months. Did I just want to binge watch a new Netflix series? To be honest, not so much. But allowing that to be an option for one of my days off was more than ok. This was my time off to rest and recharge. So, what did I want to do?

  • I started with sleep. I let my body lie in and sleep as much as it needed to without setting an alarm
  • I set myself a blogging challenge! This was really fun and a great way to get those creative juices flowing again. Before I knew it, the ideas for more posts came in one after the other, alleviating the writer’s block I recently had
  • I celebrated a virtual wedding, got dressed up, listened to speeches and danced to music despite being separated across continents
  • I filmed a couple of videos for my YouTube channel
  • I visited my grandmother (whilst socially distancing) who has now since been expanded into my social bubble!
  • I cooked some new dishes that I had never attempted before
  • I exercised daily at my own pace. There were no periodic checks on work emails or carefully timed workouts to coincide with meetings. It was very freeing and I got so much more out of it!
  • Some of you may also be happy to hear, that not one quiz was played in my staycation, something that I am temporarily grateful for after playing at least two or three a week since March

Although I did not go anywhere new or do anything particularly adventurous, I was very happy spending time with just myself. Consciously deciding (or being forced) to stay at home allowed me to find time to be more creative and take time out from the strange new reality that has been 2020. I may not have been exploring a new corner of the world, but I was reconnecting with myself. It also meant that I saved a lot of money that I usually would have spent on going to the beauty salon, the hairdressers or what not. So I guess there are quite a few positives in there after all!

As much as I sincerely hope to be able to travel again and enjoy going out without any worry, I only plan to take a holiday abroad when it’s safe to do so. I honestly don’t know how this year is going to turn out and I won’t overwhelm myself trying to do so, but over the last week I have been reminded just how important time off from the daily grind is. It’s funny to think that as much as I resented hearing about “essential” journeys at the beginning of lockdown, it turned out this most recent staycation was indeed very much essential after all.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post! If so remember to subscribe to keep up to date with what I’m talking about. You may also like to read the posts below:

This Week’s Blogging Challenge! | June 22 – 28th

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Sarah’s Day Fitness E-Books | Review

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Embrace You| A Masterclass with Jessica Creighton

I naturally have an optimistic, hopeful and ambitious perspective on life; an outlook that has driven me to want to connect, learn and share with others. Naturally when beginning my blog I knew that I wanted Natalia Talks About to be a space that encompassed this, by sharing my “thoughts on daily life” as a woman in her 20’s. Over the last year, I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention on consistency, seizing the present moment and more recently the importance of self-acceptance. This is a lesson that perhaps most of us may have struggled with since our teen years. I’ve recently found myself drawn to podcasts, blog posts, YouTube videos and discussions all focused on how each person’s journey has led them to a similar destination to self-acceptance and positivity. Whether it’s mantras, affirmations, goal-setting, being authentic or simply being unapologetically you, it’s pretty clear that we all know that there are ways to get there, but truly recognizing that we are enough can be a lot easier said than done, right? However that is not to say that it’s not worth it. What’s more, is that you will definitely reap the rewards you deserve in more ways than one when you recognize that your uniqueness is actually your biggest asset.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” Oscar Wilde

I was fortunate enough to attend a masterclass with Jessica Creighton, who candidly spoke about how she “shouldn’t” be at the level of success she is now – statistically speaking that is. Jessica opened up about her background and how despite the odds of being a woman of colour from a single-parent home, growing up in a relatively poor council estate in London. Jessica has now gone on to become a successful broadcaster at Sky Sports News, but interestingly this wasn’t always her number one dream. Growing up,she was a ta lented footballer, a skill evident by her earning a scholarship at Charlton Football Club. Yet at the age of 16 she found herself at a crossroads, where she was forced to choose between cultivating her football talent further, or pursuing higher education in preparation for a potential university degree. After much careful consideration Jessica chose to pursue further study as women’s football unfortunately did not provide a decent or sustainable living wage at the time. Instead, Jessica was determined to use her strengths in academia, in particular writing, to gain a career in broadcast journalism. With unrelenting effort, consistency, confidence and belief in herself, she has since gone on to hold a career in presenting over the last 9 years. Her passion, knowledge and love for sport also remains ingrained within her and is a testament to her success and credibility as a presenter. Throughout the talk Jessica shared some valuable tips that we each can apply in our daily lives to help to achieve our wider goals and career development.

1. Bring something to the table

Whilst trying to build relationships and find opportunities, Jessica would network and go for coffee’s with colleagues, bosses and peers. However her approach in getting them to actually accept her invite was reliant on her standing out over numerous other keen and equally talented peers. Jessica emphasized the importance of you being clear on what you can bring to the table, and to share that with others, this will assist you to build your network. So the next time you ask that Exec if they want to meet you for a coffee, don’t be afraid to write in the email what your big idea is and what you can do for them too. This will highlight that you are enthusiastic, driven and can bring something to the table.

2. Be prepared to be told no

No is perhaps one of the hardest words in the English dictionary to hear. Jessica was repeatedly told this before she was able to even get her foot through the door, and continued to do so whilst managing to break into the industry. Jessica emphasized the importance of being able to take criticism in numerous forms whilst remembering to remain motivated and similarly not saying no yourself to the smaller tasks that come your way. You never know where opportunities may be hidden!

3. Know your USP

Think about what your unique selling point is and what makes you diverse. Then use this to your advantage. What are you an expert on? Who can relate to you? What makes you, you? Whether it’s for a job interview, finding the courage or self- belief to set up your own business, going for that promotion at work or even finding self-acceptance, knowing what makes you unique will open doors, give you direction, purpose and make you memorable to whoever you meet.

I was keen to understand what Jessica’s biggest motivator was throughout her life and career, particularly as she drew upon her upbringing not being a guarantee that she would be able to secure the life or future she aspired to have. Jessica answered that despite not having a lot financially whilst she grew up, she did have a large, diverse community around her. This gave her richness in her confidence and ability to speak to anyone about anything. Growing up and realizing that women of her background were so rare in the media industry, she was determined to use her individuality and USP, to set her apart from everyone else to share the stories of others around her. In turn this has motivated her to continue to be a voice for further diversity in the industry, beyond race and culture but in thoughts and actions too. She remains motivated in the hope that her hard work can spark inspiration for others who can relate to her and see that someone like them chased their dreams. In turn she hopes that this will provide them with courage and self-belief that they too can achieve their goals, against the odds. Throughout this masterclass I was left with positivity, inspiration and reminded of Oscar Wilde’s words, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken”. It strikes me how true these words still are today and how the power of embracing you can guide you to success.

If you enjoyed this you should subscribe and read:

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