In a world where we feel value based on our level of busyness, we are often “work hard, play hard(er)” people. Our recreation is often just as tiring if not more so than work. In many work places it can be heard, “I had to come back to work just to get some rest!” We tell ourselves that one more cup of coffee will get us through the day. “Things need to get done and if I don’t do it no one else will.”

We all know that it takes a couple days to recover from a hectic weekend. And the cycle perpetuates. We start the week tired. Low productivity means longer hours and higher stress. We act like we are robots. Constant output no maintenance required. But if we’re honest, we don’t feel this way on the inside. We know better. We need to recharge in ways that we often don’t allow ourselves. If we don’t, we wind up like a car that is not maintained. Things start slowly falling apart and before you know it, the wheels come off or the engine seizes up. None of us want to get there.

For me, I know I routinely need solitude. This is where my Lure 11.5 V2 with Overdrive comes in clutch. I can get out on my kayak and be by myself. I hit the water and there is no one to demand anything of me. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb and I am offline. Just me and nature. In that moment, I am not a leader, creator, producer, trouble shooter, advisor, or helper. I am alone with my thoughts and I have time to process life in ways I don’t at any other time. Life slows down and so can my mind. I have time to think through things like hard conversations that I need to have, look at problems from different angles and ponder how to better parent my kids. Sometimes I listen to a challenging or thought provoking podcast. Sometimes I just sit in silence. I enjoy the peace of the water and the still of the morning.

Your silence and solitude doesn’t have to look like mine, but here are some basic guidelines.

Turn off distractions. For most of us, this step is almost always connected to our phones. If you have a certain app that sucks you in and you lose 20-30 minutes at a time, that is a great one to stay away from during this time. If you have a certain relationship that can eat up time or drain your soul, don’t answer the phone or text back. Just mute the conversation or turn on Do Not Disturb. They can wait. You can wait.  You can get back to them later. 

Spend time just being still. Feel the gentle rock of the water, and the simple mechanics of pedaling or paddling. Find enjoyment in the simple things. The sun rise, a sip of hot coffee, the beauty and order of nature. As a person of faith, I take time to pray. 

Take time to think deeply about something that is not related to work. How to be a good neighbor, how to encourage someone who needs it, or how to show kindness to someone you wouldn’t naturally. 

End well. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get back to the launch, load up and get back to reality in a way that isn’t rushed. Please learn from my mistakes. I have (more than once) completely undone any benefits of a solitary trip by not giving myself enough time to get home in a reasonable fashion. Give yourself an extra 15-30 minutes. You’ll be grateful you did.

I try to have a small time (3-4 hours) of solitude at least once a month and a longer time of solitude (a full day) once a quarter. I’m not a great scheduler, but I make sure to put it on my calendar. If I don’t, it doesn’t happen.  

I hope this can help you get into some rhythms of solitude and a more healthy way of life.  Tight lines!

Written by Andy Ulrich, Feelfree US Pro Staff Team Member

Edited by Bobby Ulrich, Feelfree US Pro Staff Team Member