I’ve always had the need to spend some alone time every now and then. Until recently it has meant week-long trips to the cottage (and once to Egypt). I’m not completely sure why I need this time alone, but it feels good and I get a lot of energy out of it. At the cottage I usually have my laptop with me to stay in contact with everyone at work.
I usually don’t do anything very different from work, except that I don’t have any meetings and I’m mostly offline.
Still (or rather because of that) I get a lot done and most importantly I get to spend some time alone with my thoughts. Usually this means at least a few revelations and ideas. If I had to use one word to describe the whole process, I’d call it decompression.
The last few months have been the most stressful months of my whole life. The decompression weeks came back to my mind but I knew I didn’t have time for a whole week. I started wondering whether there was a way to make it faster and more intensive. I started thinking about hiking and camping.
After watching a few seasons of Bear Grylls’ Ultimate Survival (comical), I knew I was on the right track. Spending some time alone in nature and sleeping outside would be the way to decompress fast.
I contacted a friend who works as a wilderness guide. He told me what to do and loaned me the gear to test my idea.
I did my test drive in January in Finland, which means that the sun sets at 4 PM and rises at 9:30 AM. The night temperature was 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 Celsius).
I hiked about 3 kilometers to my shelter (lean-to). I started the fire and watched the sun set. I instantly noticed that when all you’ve got is a fire and darkness, time stands still. When I felt like an hour had passed and looked at the time, it turned out to be eight minutes later. Maybe I was just bored. In that case I would recommend some boredom every now and then.
My stress was completely gone. No stress whatsoever from work nor from the experiment itself. I just stood there, watching the fire and darkness around me. I meditated a little and then hit the hay.
I slept well, woke up, packed my things and hiked back in the darkness of an early winter morning.
I’m definitely going to do it again. If you are planning to do something similar, I suggest getting good gear and contacting someone local who knows the terrains etc.
Here’s a blog post telling more about the gear and what you should think about before doing anything.