We recently got back from a wonderful three-week trip along the Californian coast. We started in San Diego and drove north to San Fransico, stopping at pretty beachside locations along the way, such as Santa Barbara, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Santa Cruz.

We ran on the beach where they filmed Some Like it Hot; saw sea lions playing by the shore at sunset; and ate breakfast burritos in a San Fransisco diner.

For those of you who’ve been to one of my hypnobirthing antenatal classes, you’ll be pleased to know that I saw a Wise Hippo in San Diego Zoo and enjoyed loads of opportunities to gaze out at my sea of serenity. The time out to just ‘be’ outside in the sun was wonderful and refreshing.

 

Relaxation is what hypnobirthing is about, and it’s so easy to relax on a beach! Probably no surprise there. But it made me think about why…When you’re on a beach (and the sun is shining) your senses take over – the sound of the sea, the feel of the sand underfoot and the warmth of the sun on your skin makes it easier to be mindful. You can concentrate on your senses and quiet your mind more easily.

A hippo relaxing in San Diego zoo

A Wise Hippo chilling in San Diego zoo, California

Our trip was mega relaxing and we took our toddler with us!
When we booked our trip and told people about it, so many asked how we’d cope with the flights, whilst pulling a face (after all it was 11 hours to San Diego and 9 1/2 to San Fransico). It started to make me worry – after all if other people thought it would be difficult then maybe it would.

Our daughter is a bundle of energy, a bundle who doesn’t like to sit still or come to think of it, sit down at all. In the Wise Hippo classes one of the exercises couples do is write their ideal birth story as if it’s already happened.

Our subconscious minds can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined event (so often the thought of public speaking is actually worse then doing that presentation). Writing something as if it’s already happened takes away a lot of the fear and seems to create a sort of blueprint for your mind to follow. Anyway, it worked. She sat happily playing with stickers, reading and watching shows, and she slept! The flights were fine.

dad and daughter making time to relax on the beach

Our holiday was amazing and it made me think again about how important it is to carve out time to relax and create rituals, whether you’re pregnant, you’re trying for a baby, you have a baby, or you have kids. It’s about bringing that holiday feeling home – something that’s even more important as those dark, cold winter nights draw in.

Three ideas for relaxing at home

1. Sensory overload

Hot baths, scented candles, songs that remind you of happy memories (we have our Californian play list on repeat at the moment) and foods from holidays – we’re having watermelon juice at brekkie – all bring back emotions and happy thoughts that help you to relax.

2. Reading to relax

Instead of watching TV, read a good book, or magazine, whilst listening to relaxing music. When you’re caught up in a gripping book you picture the characters and the setting using your subconscious mind. This means that you give your focus to the story and other thoughts fade into the background.

3. Time to sit and stare

One of the lovely things about being on holiday is time to do sweet nothing. This is harder at home as there’s always something to do – the washing up, online shopping, cooking – probably an endless list. But it can be really refreshing to give yourself a bit of time, 15 minutes or so to meditate (which you can do by just focusing on your breath), listen to one of your relaxing hypnobirthing MP3s, or listen to a piece of relaxing  music.

Why not try doing these things for a week and see how you feel at the end?

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