We all need a break now and again when work pressure becomes too much, but do you know what signs to look out for?

A cycle from Swindon to France in 4 days.

What did I discover about the most recent cycle from Swindon to Rouen in France?

First of all lets look at why I chose to cycle nearly 350 miles to get away from the pressures of every day life.

The first 2 months of 2018 has been nothing short of exceptional, from helping deliver a 1 day workshop on Mental Health in the workplace, being invited along to attend the very first Facebook Community Summit Europe in London, to taking on a team of 8 admins for the Mindcanyon community.

All that in just 4 weeks.

Whilst it’s been truly astonishing, and I’m truly humbled at these wonderful experiences, but it’s taken it’s toll.

I’ve been implementing change in my online community, creating job roles, polices, procedures, organising results, and working pretty much 24/7.

This hasn’t been ideal, I became extremely cranky, and no fun to be close to.

It was time to close up shop (for myself), and get away from the work pressure for a while.

I sat and thought about what I would like to do to escape and where to start, and then it became clear.

If I went on a package holiday I would get bored and may have a few glasses of wine, I didn’t want to run that risk.

I decided to do what I enjoy, a cycling holiday.

I chose to visit a place called Rouen in France and then continue on to Paris after a 3 day break.

I usually fail to plan my trips away as i enjoy the thrill of seeing what happens when I set off into the unknown.

This time was different.

I have an amazing V.A who is truly epic at organising me and my business/personal life, and she sat with me and organised this amazing get away.

I’m noticing the more I’m organised in all areas of my life the easier it’s becoming.

You see as humans we don’t do well under pressure, and it’s mainly due to the fact that we don’t have and structure in place to eliminate stress.

It’s all about forward planning.

I’m seeing this more and more clearly every day in my business and personal life, this is why routine is so so important, and as humans we like routine.

I’m now ready to leave for the unknown, actually this time I leave for the known.

I pack my rucksack and head out of the door.

From Swindon to Dover.

As I start my cycle I start to ease myself away from social media and the pressures of what I’m leaving behind.

Have you ever noticed the amount of time you spend on social media? I have and it’s alarming, it’s an addiction, we crave that dopamine hit.

Red heart blue thumb, it’s got us well and truly hooked. Mr Z knows this, it’s why he’s proposing more and more offline connections with the new Community Leadership Programme, of which I’ve been asked to lead one in my local community in Swindon.

It’s a full on day of cycling, 140 miles to be precise, carrying an 18kg back pack.

Luckily I’ve been in training at the gym for the past 6 weeks preparing myself for this adventure.

The first day is nothing short of tiring as I head into Dover early evening.

I grateful for coffee and real chairs.

As I take my backpack off and slurp my first mouthful of coffee, it dawns on me what I’ve just done, I smile.

Within the hour I’m boarding the ferry, ready to sail across the Chanel to Calais, where I have a hotel that is pre booked, I cannot wait to get into the room and sleep.

As we reach the other side of the Chanel, I collect my bike from the vehicle bay and cycle a short 1 mile to my first destination, the hotel.

On checking in to the hotel, my first impression was it looked rather nice, and to be honest, anywhere with a bed was fine by me.

When I get to my room, I shower, check in to FB and update my friends of what I’m doing, then hit the pillow.

The next day is a short 80 mile ride so I sleep well.

Day 2: Feb 22nd. Calais to Abbeville.

The day after the night before is always the worst, everything aches. I soldier on regardless. It takes huge amounts of mental resilience to push past the pain barrier when you want to give up.

50 miles into my journey today and that all changed, the road started to descend and open up for what seemed like miles, I managed to hit 50mph at 1 point.

This is when I remembered why I was here, to experience the ride, the thrill, the openness of the road ahead.

Day 3: Feb 23rd. Abbeville to Forges les Euaux.

Giving up isn’t an option.

Today has been the toughest day so far, and also the most structured.

The last 2 days I went balls deep into this latest challenge of cycling from Swindon to Rouen.

Today was a different kettle of fish, I had to plan it as I knew it was going to take all of my energy, and determination to cycle another 63 miles.

After having breakfast with a rather attractive young lady, who was also on a walking challenge, I sat and planned the route, and incorporate in a water/snack break every 10 miles, or I wouldn’t make my destination by tonight.

This actually worked out exceptionally well, I was focussed, determined and I knew what needed to be done.

I tried to get a hotel 20 miles North of Rouen, but nothing was open WTF?

I was stood around so long looking for one, and ringing round, that I began to shiver, I was shaking like a shitting dog.

It was at this point I knew I had to get going or I would freeze.

After a little more searching I found a hotel 11miles away, and I’m not kidding when I say I got to the hotel in 46 mins flat, bum cheeks didn’t know what him them.

The mentality it takes not give up, but to give extra, is one of pure determination, if your heads not in it then you are doomed from the start.

I knew what was waiting at the hotel for me…….. and no it wasn’t a lady 😕.

It was a hot shower.

I still haven’t reached Rouen yet, so what, I got to experience another part of France.

I will not be beaten.

276 miles in 3 days.

Day 4: Forges les Euaux to Rouen. 23 miles.

The final day of cycling before a nice little city break.

As I hopped on the saddle for the final day I was bracing my ass as it is on fire.

To be honest the ride was faster than I had bargained for, 1 hill and all flat road.

23 miles in 1hr 45mins.

I made it to Rouen.

Now that I’m here, and after many hours of being alone, being on my own isn’t what I want, I’ve learnt what I had to do, and that was to clear my mind.

On reflection, all I need is somebody to talk to.

After 3 days in Rouen I pack my bags and say good bye to this beautiful city.

The final destination will Be Paris.

27.02.18 Rouen to Paris.

I decide not to cycle to Paris as it’s 75 miles from Rouen and it’s -4, instead I hop on a train as it’s much warmer.

The train ride is only 45 mins away.

I experience my very first ride on a double decker train, novel to say the least.

As we pull into Paris I notice it’s snowing, it’s here I decide to call it a day and come home.

This time the journey has been truly spectacular, my head is clear, I’ve had fun and laughs.

This is what life is about, the experiences.

Remember your brain doesn’t think clearly when it’s under stress so you need to be prepared.

The more organised you are, the easier life gets.

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

So in conclusion, to reduce stress, plan ahead and consider all the risk factors and pros and cons that you can. Then you will be better prepared to deal with stress and make the correct decisions in the moment.

For me health is more important than wealth.