It’s coming up to 3 months since we began our van life adventure in New Zealand and time is going really quickly! Before I left, I thought that no plans or work meant I could slow down and therefore time would slow down with me, but when I checked in with myself recently I noticed time was going faster than ever. I quickly realised that this adventure is not going to last forever, so I had to make sure I was making the absolute most of my days!
For the first time in my life, I’m experiencing sunrise after 8am and sunset by 5:15pm! Whenever I’m in a healthy routine I wake with the sun without an alarm, so I’m not complaining about this extra 2 hour sleep-in. However, daylight is precious, so once the sun is up, I should get up - but for the first month or so I wasn’t doing that. I found myself scrolling endlessly on social media when I woke up, wasting so much of my time. I’m talking hours would go by before I realised! I guess this happened at home as well, but because of work or other life commitments my time scrolling was limited. Since being here and not having a schedule to live by, it has allowed me to be reckless with how much time I spend in bed, staring at my phone. I’m grateful I’ve noticed it now and have made the conscious effort to be more productive in the mornings!
If this is something you can relate to, my biggest tips would be –
Use a watch or clock to check the time rather than your phone, you won’t be tempted to check it if you don’t need to look at it!
Get up and make your morning drink, mine is a warm lemon water.
With the extra time you now have move your body - go for a walk, a gentle stretch to wake up your muscles, dance to your favourite songs, tend to your garden, whatever it is that makes you feel good!
Eat a delicious breakfast allowing yourself enough time to sit down and enjoy every mouthful. Once these are done and you’re feeling ready for the day, reach for your phone and check it if you need to.
Now, when I say daylight, it does not necessarily mean ‘sunlight’. As the seasons have changed, so too have the amount of cloudy days. Our little van was running purely off solar power, so as the cloudy days increased, our battery power decreased. We started turning off the fridge at night and using our torches rather than the lights. Our days were consumed by searching for the town with the most sun, choosing a campsite with a fridge and watching our inverter flick between 50% and soon-to-be dead batteries. This was not something I had ever thought about before, nor expected to leave us feeling so anxious. We needed to do something about it ASAP, so we booked the van in to get a VSR system installed. The deep cycle batteries are now charged while we drive as well as from the solar panel, meaning we can go back to enjoying our days with less planning and more appreciating.
'Sometimes checking in with yourself is all you need to clear your mind, be more present and completely flip the direction you were unconsciously going.'
Appreciation is an understatement when we had a whole week of sunshine recently! With no idea how long the good weather would last we filled our days with bush walks, yoga and sunset picnics. We even treated ourselves to a bottle of red to celebrate the occasion (it doesn’t take much, haha). I’ve read about how the weather can affect people’s emotional state, but never before have I felt a shift in my mood as I did when the sun turned up day after day. While I definitely believe the increase in vitamin D helped to lift my mood, I think another major contributor was the fact I became more present. I stopped thinking about the future, with no idea how long the sun would last and just lived in the moment. Time even slowed down once I stopped wishing my days away and enjoyed the day for what it was (It makes a lot of sense now I’ve written it down). Understandably, it is a lot easier to do when the weather is beautiful, but I think it’s even more important to remember this when life gets hard and the clouds are grey. Accepting each day exactly as it is and making the most of it, will definitely be something I write down as a goal for the next month!
To elaborate on that, I’ve started a monthly reflection and intention journal. I’m currently in my first month where I wrote down my reflection of the previous month, my intentions for the month to come and a few small, achievable goals I would like to focus on. My inspo for this came after reading Melissa Ambrosini’s wonderful blog post about understanding your monthly cycle (Ladies, definitely worth a read). It was the perfect way to check-in with myself and the kick-in-the-butt I needed to stop scrolling and start enjoying the moment I was in. I reread my journal every couple of days as a reminder of the intentions I have set and to ensure I’m still headed down the right path towards my goals.
Sometimes checking in with yourself is all you need to clear your mind, be more present and completely flip the direction you were unconsciously going. Writing it all down is a great way to process your thoughts and emotions, as well as keeping yourself accountable for the goals you set. The small changes I’ve mentioned above have made a huge difference to my attitude and how I live each day. No matter what stage of life you are at, you are not just here to exist, you are here to live, and there is no better time to start than right now.
Love, Han xx