How to fit in a micro holiday by Emma Croman
Reports say that people who don’t take holidays are more likely to suffer from anxiety, stress, higher blood pressure. Additionally, research also shows that more hours means less productivity. It’s easy to fall into the trap of making hay while the sun shines but when everything starts buzzing around your mind and you just keep adding to your to-dos it might be a sure fire sign you need a break.
There is such a thing as ‘decision fatigue’ which is when a lack of time out contributes to a decreased ability to make good judgements and an increased likelihood to procrastinate. A study showed that Israeli judges were more likely to grant parole to prisoners after their two daily breaks than when they had been working for a while – as decision fatigue set in they started to just say no as this was the easiest and safest option.
A holiday is an investment in your wellbeing but organising and booking a holiday, even a short city break, is enough to fill a busy person with fear. Also, as we all know, dealing with a stressful holiday can actually reverse the positive benefits of taking a break from work. So how can we improvise to invest in our mental wellbeing without spending too much or having to meticulously plan?
Psychologists claim that short breaks make people happier than one long holiday and it’s not hard to see why – packing, taking time off, getting everything done so you can take time off, travel, getting pets cared for – it all adds to a to do list. This is where you need to embrace the local mini break – you’ll be amazed as to what’s on your doorstep and how disconnected from your every day life you can be just 30 minutes up the road.
A mini break isn’t a new concept – people have been taking spa break for years – but more and more options are popping up to cater for our increasing need to switch off. A flash getaway can come in many forms – a walk over the downs, a night in the woods, a longer weekend camping. If you can aim for at least a walk once a week great, but the aim is to schedule at least one of these activities in once a month. Below are my favourite ways to take a reset break near Brighton.
Beautiful walks are in abundance within 30 mins drive of Brighton (or by public transport). I make a point of including trees in a walk as they have been shown to lower blood pressure and the production of stress hormones. Dedicate just half a day to a long walk and it can have a hugely positive effect on your mental wellbeing. Here are some of my favourite walks, all reachable by bus/train:
Brighton to Lewes – it’s an old faithful but 2-3 hours of bliss. You can pick up the path at Brighton Racecourse, weaving through the back of Woodingdean, crossing over the Falmer road and then hitting the downs. Look back and see the cars snaking round the road while you leave the sound of the traffic and city behind you. Pick up Juggs Road in Kingston, pass the Windmill and descend into Lewes where I highly recommend The Swan or Pelham Arms (booking recommended for the latter) before hopping on a bus or train home.
Lewes prison to Black Cap – this walk is well worth the short journey over to Lewes – it provides 2 hours of peace and quiet and some of the most stunning views. For a detailed write up, see here.
Another Lewes start for another walk winding through the peaceful land along the River Ouse – this walk starts from Lewes and ends at Southease station where you can hop on a train to Brighton – trains usually run hourly but there is a lovely café at the YHA at Southease if you miss one and need to kill some time. See more here.
Stanmer Park – we tend to take the things we have on our doorstep for granted but Stanmer Park has so much to offer – climb a small hill to the left or right of the main road and you have paths through endless woodland or just hang out on the grass reading a book. The tea rooms in Stanmer Village are lovely and generally the whole estate is a nice place to hang out. You can either get any bus that goes to the Uni over or hop on the train to Falmer to get to Stanmer.
Seaford Head - hop on a train to Seaford, hit the seafront and then head left where you can ascend to a beautiful coast walk along to Hope Gap. You can choose to go further all along to Seven Sisters.
The Chattri - this walk is a beautiful, thought provoking walk. There is a real sense of still at the memorial and I recommend jus sitting, closing your eyes and being still for a while. It’s a shorter walk than the above so perfect when you aren’t feeling so active but just want to be out finding some peace. See details here.
Book a night off grid
Forest bathing (despite it’s name doesn’t involve water) has had a bit of press recently – evidence is mounting that being among the trees has a wealth of wellness benefits for us. Canopy & Stars is an AirBNB style getaway site that offers peaceful breaks among the trees and off grid, mainly in yurts and shepherds huts. Having recently spent a night in the woods at Walk Wood Wagon I can wholeheartedly vouch for how amazingly refreshing a night in one of these places is. Plus everything is provided so you just have to throw some warm clothes in a bag and you’re away. Try also Walnuts Farm.
Stay in a local village
You really don’t have to travel far in Sussex for a real village break. Just the act of packing a bag and travelling to a room for the night will make you feel like you’ve had a relaxing break, just being away from home where there’s tasks waiting to be done everywhere will free up a few hours to read, be and just relax. My favourites are The Bull Ditchling and The Bell Ticehurst.