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The importance of having a happy place

With the modern pressures of work, money, health, relationships and just getting by, you sometimes need to get away from it all. Of course, leaping on a plane and heading to a tropical island would be just the tonic, but unfortunately, this can't be put into practice every Friday evening when you're in need of a bit of a pick me up.

Rather, it's important that you have an easily accessible space in which you can unwind. Of course, unwinding is easy on a beach, with a cocktail, and a sunset, and palm trees, but for instant succour, you need something a little closer to home. This happy place in which you can relax, power down or be re-energised needs to be accessible, achievable and instantly calming. Here's how to get into your happy place and then get the most out of it.

How to find your happy place
Think about the thing that makes you feel rested and revitalised. Is it a soft, comfy pillow, is it being in nature or is it looking at a peaceful garden? You can also identify an action that goes with it, like taking a bath, reading a book or taking a walk. When you have a good sense of the place and activity that soothe your soul, try to think of a way to combine them somewhere that you can reliably get to, and consistently have to yourself.

It's important to remember that your happy place mustn't be something that uses up your energy, so while having a glass of wine with friends or going to the gym are both important and positive aspects of your life, they don't deliver on the happy-place promise of providing you with much-needed downtime.

Make a date with your happy place
Most people know that they need to make some time to calm down and get away from it all, but somehow, this gets stacked behind all the other, more pressing obligations. It's vital that you declare your time-out as a personal responsibility and, if you're not getting to it, schedule it in on your diary even if the date is two weeks from now.

And don't let anyone come up with a better suggestion. This is what you need.

Take what you need into your happy place
There's no point in popping in and out of your happy place. Plan your time there. Take in a book, a drink, a jacket or a snack so that you are completely catered to and independent. Obviously, if you realise you need something, you can dash out and get it, but the point is to enjoy uninterrupted down time, so try to prepare yourself for that.

Allow no intrusions to your happy place
Get rid of any potential interruptions. Let your friends and family know that you are not available because you're having some much-needed me time. Turn off your phone (no, Facebook is not your happy place) and dump the iPad.

While happy places are supposed to be easy to get to, if you can't get away from your family at home, sometimes you need to find a place where you are physically inaccessible. Rent a hotel room by the hour if need be, or go to your mom's house but ask her to go shopping.

Don't compromise in your happy place
If your partner thinks that an afternoon in bed with a book sounds like just what he'd like to be doing too, tell him to get his own happy place (and be willing to let him go). While it is possible to unwind in the presence of someone else, another personality can alter the course of your relaxation, so it's best not to make it a party for two.

And if you're relaxing at home, don't agree to watch the roast, let the plumber in or remember to switch off the pool pump. You need to be immersed in the experience, not drowning in the admin you're trying to escape.

Try to expand your happy place
While your happy place should be your very own, private, calming space, there is a lesson to be learnt from what makes it work for you. If you can work out what the characteristics that contribute to your happiness are, you can try to introduce them into the rest of the spaces that you occupy every day.

For instance, if you find it calming to be amongst greenery, you can get an office plant on your desk. If you like to unwind by walking, you can try to schedule in a walk around the block twice a day. And if you like to escape by reading a book in bed, try to go to bed an hour earlier every night to fit in those precious minutes of personal time.

While it's important to have somewhere to escape to, it's just as important to be able to find calming influences in all aspects of your life.

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