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Time away to find my way

After a much-wanted promotion left her feeling anxious and flat, twenty-something professional Gabrielle Lane realised she needed time and space to just be. She writes here from Australia, one month into a sabbatical

There’s a girl bounding along a narrow track ahead of me that snakes through dry scrubland. The long path, leading to a small bay, has become steep on both sides and lined with thick branches and reeds. The air is hot and sticky, and I can hear nothing but the chirping of insects. The ground has suddenly gone from cracked and flat to thick with black mud and, with our feet bare and my new-found friend laughing (at me), I realise with fear, surprise and a weird sense of joy, that we are about to submerge ourselves up to our shins.

A hike through an Australian National Park with a near-stranger is a long way from my typical Monday morning as a media professional in London. Six months ago, I would never have dreamed I’d be doing this. I was far off the sort of quarter-life crisis I saw some friends edging towards, aggravated by precarious employment and frustrated hopes.

Outwardly, my life was secure and interesting. But shortly after getting a promotion I’d thought I really wanted, I had an inkling that something wasn’t right. Days began to seem longer and more arduous, while time overall felt like it was racing – a classic symptom of anxiety.

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Psychologies August 2016 - Switch Off Slow Down