Country Living: How A Rural Escape Helped Me Live Better

by Joanna Weakley

The yin and yang of running your own business, and a relaxation accessory one at that, is basically trying to live your dream in more ways than one. My Holistic Silk creative vision became apparent when I saw how stressed people were becoming due to technology, travel and treacherous hours. After fifteen years of buckling down and building my dream business in London, enough was enough and I decided to live my life in more real terms, more in tune with myself and nature - far less metropolitan.

Before the WFH revolution was foisted upon us I was, like many others, working from home with my babies literally growing up on the office floor, in my lap or swinging from the home office door frame in a bouncer as I continued to create and run the business. The halcyon days of being able to afford the weekends to blue sky think and sew on my trusty vintage sewing machine the latest idea I’d had, had passed. I had responsibilities and that new life meant I could change the way I lived. I wanted out!

So six years ago we packed everything up, took a leap of faith and left the city behind to embrace rural living. And what an eye opener it has been. It was evident from my trips to visit friends and family across the country that it was not just city dwellers who needed time out, those in the country needed it too. I can’t say the countryside demolishes the daily grind, far from it but in some ways it is easier and has a myriad of rewards and opportunities to improve wellbeing   

Having to drive most places can be a hassle. The lack of cultural stimulus can be mind-bending (especially now with restrictions on where we’re allowed to bolt to and get a fix) and when you are used to having every conceivable option on your doorstep it is a shock to not have it BUT then there’s the beauty of nature, space, bracing air and barely a soul to cross your well-trodden path. Crashing seas to keep us all in reality and the sheer beauty of nature, all of which allow me to connect in much deeper ways to my work and my own self being than ever before. It’s hard not to be inspired as you watch the seasons come and go, listen to the birds and soak up the natural order of things and I love the way these subconsciously influence my designs. Over the past six years I have come to believe even more that it is the slowing things down that forces you to see things you might otherwise miss and enjoy the simpler opportunities in life. Rural life isn’t the easy ride people expect and I don’t think it’s meant to be, but it’s different and definitely not as fraught as it was in the big city.   

Wellbeing is a mysterious and very personal journey but one thing for sure is that less is more. And more Less is more More! And wellbeing has become more important than ever in the recent months. Having built my business and life on wellbeing, I have found myself needing to work harder in this area of my life, juggling this with the pressures of home schooling, working from a converted bedroom at home and avoiding news overload. The mantra ‘healthy body means healthy mind’ has never been more apt and I have found it ringing in my head more and more. Especially when the urge to eat just one more biscuit on my trip to the kitchen for some escape takes hold!

Taking time out to walk and breathe in the cold air usually works for me as well as a meditation session, whilst braving the elements and running into the waves in January makes every cell in my body feel alive. But even with these simple pleasures, I have found focussing in general harder during the recent lockdown. Probably something to do with TV box-set overload, free range children and overeating.  

So, I am being kind to myself, reminding myself to keep life as simple as possible and embrace the opportunities to relax and rejuvenate whenever they appear. I would urge everyone to do the same at this time.  Step outside and immerse yourself in the simplicity of nature no matter where you are and take the ‘me time' that we often dismiss as unnecessary.  Marvel at the trees blowing in the breeze - did you know that trees actually sleep at night and shrink by up to two inches whilst they do?  Wonder at how random flowers appear in the cracks in the pavement and survive, I am sure there is a metaphor there about conquering what appears to be the impossible… Enjoy the sheer joy in birds singing and the absolute abandon children display jumping in puddles; something that should not be reserved just for children. 

And if you can’t get outside right now try to create a quiet 10 minutes of relaxation and mindful breathing, even if it means hiding in the cupboard under the stairs, because it can bring untold benefits to your physical and mental wellbeing. Roll out that mat you’ve been looking at and stretch if nothing else. And sleep! Of all the things we need in modern life, it is definitely more sleep. 

My top tip would be to create a bedtime routine to prompt your body clock to know when it’s bedtime and slow your mind down. Be it getting your pyjamas on at a set time each evening, taking a warm bath an hour before bed, doing some gentle stretches before you turn in or just going to bed at the same time every night (without your screens of course!) Bedtime routines help immensely in pushing our brains to switch off and slow down especially in these stressful times.


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