Why I loved my Solo Life and Business Planning Retreat

Post written by Faye, Chief Sender of Hugs

Post written by Faye, Chief Sender of Hugs

A couple of weeks ago, I took myself away for a couple of days on a solo life and business planning retreat and I’m totally convinced it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

I am definitely very introverted by nature. I love people and I love a proper chat with people I’m comfortable around but I’m also quite an anxious person. I have a low capacity for being social before I get really drained. My favourite thing is having a coffee and reading my book anonymously in the corner of a cafe. 

Running BearHugs sometimes means I need to be 100% social 100% of the time and I just don’t have the reserves to sustain that. Trying to maintain it for too long always leaves me feeling unwell both physically and mentally. I think it’s part of why I cannot for the life of me stay on top of DMs/WhatsApp/texts even though I love feeling connected to friends. And why occasionally my inbox will get full to the point where there’s absolutely no chance of responding in a timely manner. 

The thing I find especially difficult is that my job requires me to regularly put myself out there online. I worry how that looks when I haven’t managed to respond elsewhere. I get huge waves of guilt when I have unanswered messages on WhatsApp building up but need to keep being present on the internet. I would never feel bad if someone hadn’t responded to me because they were working long days and crashed when they got home but I always wonder if the same is understood of me where I’m self employed and ostensibly doing so much better health-wise than I used to be.

It all got a bit much last month so I took myself to the Peak District, locked myself in a beautiful little annexe and made plans. Some big BearHugs plans, some really small plans to look after myself better going forward. Some boundaries to put in place so work doesn’t use quite so much of the energy I have to give. 

Business-wise, I find it hard to get stuck into working on the ‘big picture’ things when there are what feels like a million small things appearing in my inbox daily. Physically removing myself from the day-to-day '“noise” of BearHugs gave me a chance to look back on what has and hasn’t been working and, importantly, to critically analyse why. I made plans and at every point was able to check that the plans aligned with what we’re trying to do at BearHugs. There was something really liberating about doing this away from external pressures. It felt like every decision I was making directly correlated with BearHugs goals to help people show their love and appreciation for others, to brighten the days of people affected by life-limiting illness and to offer and advocate for part-time, flexible accessible remote roles for people with long-term health conditions. In just two days, I felt completely reconnected with where we’re heading and much more capable of turning plans into actions.

Time away from distractions and using social energy did me the world of good in lots of ways. It became very clear very quickly that I had really needed time totally alone to recharge and refocus. I felt a bit uneasy about that idea at first - am I horribly antisocial? Is it weird to want to shut everyone out? But actually taking that time away made me excited to see and reach out to people again rather than feeling overwhelmed by the thought of it.

As the hours went by, I gradually started to feel much more like me again and I soon decided that I’m going to have to make taking little chunks of alone-time an absolute priority going forward. Keeping boundaries in place is what is going to allow me to be properly present when I do speak to and spend time with the people I love rather than always spreading myself too thin. It’ll also hopefully help me to keep BearHugs more focussed too which can only be a good thing.

Taking myself to idyllic Peak District cottages is probably not something that will be affordable every month but even popping to a cafe for a few hours here and there will do the trick.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with a low threshold for social overwhelm so if you experience too it- you’re absolutely not alone.