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The first day back in work after the Christmas / New Year break is always tough. Maybe I didn’t quite jump out of bed, but I did make it to my desk on time, cup of tea in hand, ready to see what the day had in store. However, I was soon wishing I’d stayed in bed! Software wouldn’t do what it was supposed to, people were emailing with problems that needed urgent response, students were unhappy with coursework grades, all the things I’d said “I’ll deal with this after Christmas” hadn’t magically evaporated over the holidays.

By the end of the day, head banging, I just wanted to curl up and hide from it all. But then I remembered that doesn’t really help so, giving myself a virtual boot up the backside, I wrapped up and set out for a walk in the fresh air. Outside it was dark and cold and not terribly inviting. Yet within a few minutes I found myself starting to relax. The cold air was invigorating, prickling my skin, the rhythm of my steps and my breathing were soothing. Soon I started spotting Christmas lights on people’s houses and enjoying the cheer they brought, with memories of Christmas past. A smell of woodsmoke from someone’s fire made me think of cosy cabins in the snow. Exchanging friendly greetings with the occasional dog walker or fellow wanderer reminded me there was a bigger world than work.

Forty minutes later I arrived back home, face aglow, tension headache vanished, Fitbit celebrating the calories burned, steps walked and floors climbed. I was full of tales of what I had seen and experienced. All this from 40 minutes of walking round a housing estate in the dark and cold! That’s when I realised (again!) that the simplest things can do you the most good. You don’t need money or equipment or detailed planning. Sometimes just putting on your shoes and getting out there is all you need. I know I’ll forget again, but hopefully the next time I get to the end of a stressful day I can look back on this reflection and remind myself to just step outside that door and enjoy life.

Acknowledgment – Louise Hughes

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