Valerie O’Connor is back to the daily grind, but finds that a cure for what ails can be found in nature and woodland is places very close to home.
It’s a strange world we live in. We work hard to pay the bills, we get up too early and stay up too late.
We work out, we go out, we feel good, we feel bad and, a lot of the time, lets admit it, we struggle.
You never know what life is going to throw at us from bereavement to serious illness, separation from a loved one, and, as many parents may be experiencing for the first time as their little puddins fly the nest to college; empty nest syndrome.
We go on holidays to cure us of our busy lives, we lie on the beaches and drink the drinks, we cram our stuff into cases and stress out over whether or not we should bring wedges and flip flops, runners and walking shoes, long dresses, trousers, and on it goes.
We always only wear the onesie we bought in Penney’s anyway because, as my mother would say “Who’ll be looking at you?”.
I don’t know about you but I generally feel like I need to go on holiday after I’ve been away as I’m so discombulated from being somewhere else, that the thought of cooking a meal or using the washing machine sends me over the edge when I get back, never mind the stress of actually working.
In Germany, which was my home for some years, they recognise the need for a cure from life.
Sanitoriums are situated around the country where people who experience burnout can go for a ‘cure’ which involves rest, saunas and other therapies to restore people to optimum health and an eventual return to the workforce.
Please note that you have to be certified as ‘wrecked’ to get this, but it’s still a good thing that you can.
My cure is a deep need to be in nature.
I live in the city centre and anytime I feel the need for space, I make a break for the beach and go for a swim in the sea.
There are few things closer to nature and more healing than being in the ocean.
If the sea is too far then the forest park or the woods or park will do.
Being in the elements clears your head, the crash of the waves on the rocks as you go for a walk along the cliffs, the wind in your hair, the salty air in your lungs.
My go to place for my ‘cure’ is the Aran Islands, Inis Mór specifically since going there for the first time a few years ago with my two boys who happily went out walking all day every day, when they weren’t sitting, looking out at the sea or drawing pictures.
We rented a house for a week, for two years in a row, way out west and miles from the town with nothing but expanse of rocks to walk on and the wild around us.
What seemed like nothing, became our favourite place as we forged friendships, went seaweed harvesting and made friends with seals.
Getting to Inis Mór is cheaper and easier than going to an international airport and, as long as you pack both bikini and raincoat, everything is covered. Literally.
Happily, some smart women on the island have devised the Anam Aran Soul Festival which is next up for me for a break away.
From Thursday October 6 to 9, Anam Arann Soul Festival runs on Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co Galway.
I’m looking forward to spending these few days with the main organisers; gifted songstress Deirdre Ni Chinneide who has sung for the Dalai Lama, yoga instructor Monika Schulderbacher and medicine woman and yoga teacher, Jacinta Carey.
The three days incorporate visits to the wild and ancient sites of Aran.
I’ve been to Aran so many times and the idea of learning about the spiritual history and magic of these ancient sites is a very exciting prospect.
The weekend takes in lots of yoga, mantras, voice work, shamanic journeying and you get to eat some great local island food too.
For further details and booking contact the event committee via email@example.com or find Anam Arann Soul Fest on FaceBook.
Closer to the capital and just next week is WellFest, touted as Ireland’s only health and wellness festival, it takes place over two days next Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18.
The schedule sees 150 activities run by 100 presenters, taking place across 10 stretch-tents and eight stages in the very central and sulubrious Herbert Park.
Highlights will include workout sessions with international star Russell Bateman of The Skinny Bitch Collective and the team from House of Voga; cookery demonstrations with The Happy Pear; and interactive workshops with Kathryn Thomas, Bressie, Pat Divilly and Roz Purcell.
So if clean eating, wellness and mental health are your thing, and aren’t they everybody’s — this sounds like a fantastic and fun all round positive event.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved