Picture it, we’ve all been there. It’s January 3rd and there’s been almost three weeks of Christmas and New Years build up. A thousand cans have been drank, eleven bottles of buckfast have been eased down, you drank three bottles of Baileys for God’s sake, you ate two five euro notes one night, you wrestled your own Da, you got run over by a minivan but sorted it out with ten smokes and a yard of Guinness. By January 3rd you’re a fat, scared, pale wreck of a human.
Last January I was in this exact position and I realised something needed to be done. I needed to get out of Ireland, get some sun on my face and some exercise into my bones. I’ve got one of the bendiest elbows in town so I knew I had to go somewhere where there wasn’t anyone to lead me into temptation. Somewhere where a man can hide himself from the world – a place with sun, sea, sports, no alcohol, good food and no internet. I found a little place in the north of Sri Lanka, a kitesurfing centre on its off season with no clients, a million miles from anywhere with just a local chef called Nilanka for company.
I picked a bunch of activities: Running, swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kitesurfing, weight lifting, suntanning (I admit it), reading and eating… and it was class. I woke up every morning at half six and spent the morning doing athletics and weight training, and in the afternoon playing sports. I had an absolutely ferocious appetite and just ate local Sri Lankan fare. I also brought my Nutri Bullet, filled it with all manner of vegetables and hooned that into me three times a day. In the evening I’d read my book and crawl into bed, exhausted, at 10 o’clock for a hearty eight and a half hours sleep.
I picked a bunch of activities: Running, swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kitesurfing, weight lifting, suntanning (I admit it), reading and eating… and it was class.
I went full tank and did it solo and this, I think, was a good decision. I’ve heard a lot of chat about yoga, meditation, ashrams and the rest of late for people find mindfulness and escape from a hectic lifestyle – but it never worked for me. The most meditative and cleansing state is for me to be found in activity, repetitive activity like swimming or paddling, I focus my body on something and my mind seems to take some time off. My other plan was to find some time to plan the year, as I work for myself I find setting out yearly goals a great help, so I walked and I thought and I wrote and I read.
I found that this two weeks at the start of the year sorted me out for everything that was to come, I came back feeling physically and mentally great. The lack of alcohol meant I hadn’t had the fear in weeks, I only smoke when drinking so I went the longest time some I was 16 without a smoke, I almost had a six pack, my mind was sharp and clear and I was itching to get stuck into some work. I was also strung out for a drinking session and some serious chat with the lads and I did that as well.. and they were the shweetest pints that ever went down.
Most of us are never going to live like Mormons, we’re Irish and like having fun – but if you have the luxury of time and can spend two weeks a year taking a “I’m Actually Going to Come Back from this Feeling Better Holiday’’, I reckon your mind and body will thank you for it.
I couldn’t do it this January but I’m thinking about finding a nice corner of Greece this Autumn to run, cycle, swim, freedive, SUP and kite. I might even ask someone along and have a glass of Ratsiki in the evenings. Maybe a slightly less full on one will have the same results…I don’t know but I’ll report back.