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A girls weekend away: a necessity or a luxury?

A girly weekend away: a necessity or a luxury?

I used to spend so much time with my gal pals. My twenties and early thirties were a whirlwind of festivals, gigs, hen parties and birthday bashes. The overdraft and my liver took a battering but those trips away provided memories to keep me smiling well into my old age (42, in case you wondered).

Fast forward ten years and three kids, and it’s much harder to make that time to spend with friends. It can take months to schedule in a date with one friend and NATO-style negotiations to organise a weekend away with a bigger group.

The benefits of strong friendships in terms of our mental health has long been known. But more recent research shows that spending time with friends can lower our blood pressure, decrease stress and anxiety and is linked with maintaining a healthy BMI and bodyweight. Spending time with your mates could literally help you live longer!

If that’s not all the proof you needed to stop procrastinating and get your girly weekend booked; read on for my 5 reasons why your girls trip is a necessity not a luxury.

●      A mini-break is a mental reset

I recently went to Liverpool with about twenty ladies for my beautiful sister-in-law to be’s hen do. I arrived at the train station absolutely frazzled. I had packed my bag in under three minutes whilst breaking up a fight between my two eldest kids and removing a pea from my youngest's nose.

We had 13 stops on the train between Newcastle and Liverpool and I think it probably took until about stop seven for my brain to stop racing with life/work/kid stuff. But then remarkably… it switched off completely. The more I laughed, the more new girls I spoke to, the less my mind had room for all the everyday stress. The big things and the minutiae. A mini-break is the mental health reset we all need in our crazy busy lives.

●      Remembering who you are

I’m not being funny… but I’m really funny. Or at least I used to be. Like honestly, I was known amongst my friends as the funny one. I’m not sure that was intended to be a compliment but damn it’s the way I took it. Who wants to be known as the pretty one anyway, right?

However over the past couple of years (not sure if I’ve mentioned my hellish divorce in previous articles!?) life has kicked a bit of the humour out of me. Not just because I’ve had a lot of sadness to contend with, but because to be honest I’m a bit busy to be funny. I have a minimum of 17 different tasks running through my brain at all times, I start work at 6am and fall into bed at 9pm, usually with a childs foot in my face. In my every day life I’m just too tired to be hilarious.

But… guess what? It turns out a girly trip away is the ideal time to remember the bits of your personality that have been parked. You can see it in others too. There’s the suburban stay-at-home Mum who used to be wild; she’s the one dancing on the podium waving her bra around her head. There’s the one who arrived with no make-up on and baby sick on her sweater even though she used to be the queen of glam; she’’ll emerge from the hotel room just in time for the taxi looking like she brought a makeup artist in her hand luggage.

For me; being away from the humdrum of home life gives me time to remember I used to be the funny one. To enjoy the feeling of making people laugh… instead of just having my kids rolling their eyes at me. They’re just too young to understand my sophisticated style of humour you see…

●      Giving priority to those relationships outside the family

I absolutely love my mates. They’re more than mates, they’re my family, my cheerleaders, my rocks. Sadly the esteem I hold them in doesn’t translate to time spent together. Full time work and single parenting three kids is not conducive to quality time with people I don’t live with. I sometimes think my friendships are one of the most neglected areas of my life in terms of time put in.

So it’s such a treat to switch off from work and parenting and give all of your attention to people who you don’t have to be with, but choose to be with. To talk about what’s going on in your respective lives, to reminisce about all the lols you’ve had together over the years and just to let those friends know that even though your catch-ups are infrequent; your love for them is immense.

●      Allows you to meet new people and make new friendships

The thing about nice people, is that they tend to have nice friends don’t they? And the added bonus of a big mixed girly weekend away like the one I just had in Liverpool is that you can steal those friends. Guilt-free.

As adults we don’t get as many opportunities to make new friendships and forge bonds. But let me tell you, there’s nothing like enjoying/enduring a 13 stop cross-country train journey to get to know people. And it’s an opportunity to meet people from different walks of life too, outside of our own social circle. Making friends in our late thirties and forties can be tricky, we get stuck in ruts and unless we start a new job or join a club (which nobody has time for, I hear ya!), where do we even meet new mates?

On a big girly weekend away, that’s where.

●      Reminds you that sometimes you are the most important thing

All too often we put ourselves at the bottom of our own lists. We sacrifice our relaxation time to put in extra hours on a project at work. We sacrifice our fitness class in order to be our kids’ personal taxi service. We sacrifice our sanity in an attempt to be all things to all people at all times.

But as the saying goes; you can’t pour from an empty cup. A weekend away with people who want nothing from you but your company, gives you a chance to refill that cup. Preferably with a finely tuned balance of spa treatments/dancing/cake/shopping and laughter please.

Sarah Hughes


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