Turquoise Waters Retreat

November 23, 2021

PhotographyHelen Janneson Bense | Bobby Bense

LocationTurquoise Waters Retreat

PicnicPretty Willow | Alma Handcrafted by Nature Plant Based Gift Box

Healing RecsSensate – Use code HELEN35 for 35AUD off | Sunshine | Barefoot walks | Singing | Digestive Bitters | Ear Massage | Cold showers | Meditation | Deep Breathing – especially before eating | Regular Digital Detoxes

Outfits Isla Midi Dress | Farrah Wrap Dress | Willow Kimono | Lolita Pants | Lace Robe | One piece Swim

JewelryAnanda Soul

When it rains it pours is how the saying goes and it couldn’t be more true for me right now with my current health issues. If you’ve been reading my Instagram lately, I’ve been sharing a little more about my health journey. It can be a lonely one at times. Connecting to others going through similar experiences has really helped me and I’m so grateful for everyone who’s reached out to me this past month.

I thought all my problems started with my broken toe in August, or the gastrointestinal virus I had in June, or the paddling injury that spurred on my frozen shoulder in March….what I’m realising is it’s a little of each, plus the stress of the last 2 years piling on. Plus the fact that I’m peri menopausal and going through new changes that are challenging me in many ways. I’ve had multiple breast scares over the past 8 years and I recently experienced another when I found a new lump. It really put me over the edge. I’ve been back and forth with tests over the past month. While I was given the green light at first, it wasn’t long before things escalated and I found myself talking to a breast cancer specialist facing more testing and more waiting yet again. The waiting anxiety feels like the hardest part of it all, but it is really just the tip of the iceberg considering the journey some take when they are diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m feeling very lucky right now, and very grateful. I received the best news ever last Friday that my results are all clear. I have a healing journey ahead, most likely surgery, but there is a deep sense of relief that we’ve finally and completely ruled out the ‘C’ word.

With such an eventful year I’ve really needed a lot more time in self reflection. You may have noticed from Instagram I’ve taken numerous solo staycays this year. One aspect is for work, which feeds me creatively, but the other is my need to be alone with my thoughts, to get to know myself better, and understand my changing needs. I’m beyond grateful my amazing husband Bobby and our children are able to support me through all of this. It’s most definitely not a viable option for everyone. We’ve always faced certain challenges without extended family support, so we all really rely on the support we give to one another, especially through times like this.

My recent solo staycay was thankfully divinely timed so perfectly around the beginning of my breast scare. I stayed at the incredibly beautiful Turquoise Waters Retreat. A luxurious, coastal styled airbnb located in Scarborough that made me feel so at home. Every detail is considered and every space is both comfortable and photogenic. It’s definitely a fantastic space to take some epic photos and relax. And to set up a glorious picnic! Pretty Willow stopped by and set up the most creative, magnificent and relaxing picnic space to enjoy and unwind. Everything about this stay was exactly what my body, heart and soul needed.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time soaking up the sunshine by the stunning pool. Sun-smart sunbathing is known to improve mood and really helps me regulate my nervous system. It’s something I do in short regular bursts, particularly in the cooler months. I’ve also discovered many other hacks for activating my vagus nerve, which is the switch to the calming part of your nervous system. Music, singing, humming, massages and cold showers are all amazing vagus nerve activators. And so are digestive bitters. Particularly good taken right before meals to ensure proper digestion. Since the vagus nerve is intricately involved in controlling digestive function it’s no wonder we get tummy issues when we are stressed. We need rest to digest!

I’ve also got a new hack that I’m a bit obsessed with. It’s called Sensate. It’s a small device you place on your sternum area that emits infrasonic waves that are synchronised and in harmony with the specially composed hemispheric audio which can be found in the Sensate app. It’s so easy to use and it’s immediately relaxing. Sensate can help to calm the fight-flight-freeze response of your nervous system, activate your vagus nerve, induce relaxation, and over time helps to improve the tone of the vagus nerve….also known as stress resilience. This device is particularly good for those who have experienced trauma and suffer with post traumatic stress. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it’s helped me amp up my meditation time to be even more effective. If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, use my code HELEN35 for $35 AUD off.

So while it’s been a year of health hurdles, it’s been a wonderful learning experience, and I find myself growing every day, creating a life that aligns more with my ethos. I’m spending a lot more time in nature, with friends, with family, I’m regularly tuning out of the news and social media, and I’m focused on what I can do, rather than what I can’t. These last fews day I’ve had some small wins with my shoulder which means my dream of getting back on my paddle board this summer is back on the cards. I honestly couldn’t be happier. Finding gratitude when the chips are down means that no matter what life throws your way, you can still thrive, and find ways to enjoy life even when there are immense challenges.

Right now I’m taking it one day at a time, knowing I will heal, and taking extra special care of myself as I navigate this bumpy part of my road.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

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