When we’re feeling a little rundown, overworked and generally just spread too thin, we often dream of white sandy beaches, coconut-spiked cocktails, and an easy, slow pace to wind down, and I’m certainly no exception to this rule.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been living life at breakneck speed, but knew that stopping to truly slow down in my daily routine wasn’t going to happen. To see if those beachy daydreams were clouding my judgement, I reached out to Monique Shipp, BPsySci, to see if it was truly worth taking a week off somewhere exotic to recharge.
Shipp assured me this was indeed a healthful way to take a truly beneficial break: “Making a mindful effort to plan a faraway, exotic vacation is great for our mental health. Firstly, it is a form of being kind to yourself, which is an important aspect of self-care. Humans need a break, and sometimes we need a private island, a sunset, a romantic dinner and clear blue waters to remember that life is and can be an experience that does not have to revolve around daily pressures.” With that in mind, I packed my bags and booked a couple of tickets for my partner and I, and took off to the famously indulgent, far-flung and perfectly picturesque Maldives.
Really taking Shipp’s advice of needing to escape to a private island, we set off for the luxuriously secluded Velassaru Resort, which in addition to being situated on a private island, boasts some of the most highly prized and perfect beaches in the entire region. The small island can be walked around in its entirety in a short 25 minutes, and each and every inch is lush with tropical greenery, flowers and trees, while the whitest, softest sand on earth and the brightest aquamarine calm of the Indian Ocean makes the beaches inarguably some of the best on the planet.
After checking into a bucket-list accommodation in the form of a spacious, modern and luxurious overwater bungalow complete with a private plunge pool, I marvelled at the quietness, only hearing the sound of the gentle ocean’s waves lapping and a bird’s song here and there. Shipp encourages really focusing on this: “Being still and quietening your mind on a lush private island getaway is a perfect way to promote mental health and wellbeing. Once you are away, if you mindfully tap into the quietness of the location and embrace the lush tropical features of the island, you will begin to move into a space where you can promote your wellbeing mindfully savouring every moment.”
Shipp and Clinical Psychologist Dr Gary Banks shared the importance of placing ourselves in these super special atmospheres and indulging in these experiences and said, “We need the breaks and shifts in routine because it recharges the batteries; we need to experience a contrasting period of indulgence with normalness, our daily routine or mundane sameness. A period of indulgence allows you to relax and step away from the stuff that you do a lot of with or without the associated monotony.”
Part of the privilege of recharging at Velassaru is being treated with such genuine and outstanding service, as well as really having the ability to treat yourself in every and any way thanks to the incredible, delectable restaurants, plush accommodations and of course its jaw-droppingly stunning locale and views from everywhere on the island. Banks suggests that “When we place ourselves in a super special and luxurious place and truly treat ourselves, we choose extravagance as top shelf self-care. You don’t work hard to skimp out.” My favourite way to do this was by blissing out at the world class spa; the treatments, rooms and space did absolute wonders for the body, mind and soul. With a hydro-pool built over the ocean and a steam room to relax in pre- or post-treatment, the main spa itself as well as each treatment room are built over the ocean to enjoy the sounds of the water and expansive views.
When the week was inevitable up all too quickly, I reflected on the time spent whiling the days away swimming in the most gorgeous water I have ever laid eyes on, feasting on fantastic meals, indulging in mind and muscle melting spa treatments and just taking pleasure in relaxing somewhere so serene and arrestingly beautiful. En route home, Shipp’s advice truly resounded:
“We can get so caught up in our daily pressures and almost get used to the hustle and eustress. Whilst it may help us with our long-term prospects, it is super helpful to detach from your daily pressure by going on a faraway holiday and really treating yourself. Being far away helps us to view our daily pressures back home objectively; a sense of objectiveness means to view your daily pressures back home and apply judgment, uninfluenced by emotions.
From a distance, this fresh perspective enables us to feel and experience our daily pressures in a detached format. We can observe ourselves and give ourselves a pat on the back by saying: ‘Gee, good hustle back home, you’re killing it, you deserve this holiday,’ or you might look back on your daily pressures and think, ‘hmm, perhaps I don’t have to be so hung up on that specific stress after all…’.