I recently went to the Hay Festival, a literature festival in the beautiful town of Hay on Wye, just over the border into Wales. This is an annual holiday for us, and a highlight of the year.

However, trying to explain the Festival to those who haven’t heard about it or been to it can be tricky – sitting in big tents, listening to people talk about books they have written sounds like an odd way to spend a week to many people.

Yet, the mix of politicians, historians, chefs, scientists, comedians and other famous faces attracted to Hay is amazing (this year we saw people ranging from Will Young to Ed Balls to Digby Jones).

But this article isn’t an excuse to tell you about my holiday (although for those who are interested, I can talk for hours on how brilliant Hay is!). Whilst at Hay, as often happens when I take time away from work, I started to think about how effective I am at work and how poor I am at the magical “work/life balance” so many people talk about.

A couple of months ago, I went to an event run by our local CIPD branch at Loughborough University talking about work/life balance and wellbeing at work. One of the things that really hit home with me was that it isn’t enough just to be away from work, but to get a sense of detachment.

Whilst at Hay, listening to all these fabulous speakers, I made notes about all the blogs and articles I could write, and ideas for work I had, triggered by a comment made or question asked. Is this me detaching from work or simply working from a different location?

This got me thinking more about work/life balance and that, sometimes even though an activity could technically be classed as work, it doesn’t feel like work. I may not have experienced a true sense of detachment whilst in Hay, but I definitely came back feeling relaxed, energised and with lots of ideas, ready to get back to work.

My conclusion was that, whilst detachment is important (and 2 weeks in Spain later in the year should achieve that!) sometimes stimulating the brain is just as relaxing as lying by a pool. So, I will be back at Hay again next year, excited by the thoughts and ideas that will be triggered and thinking about the amazing motto the Hay Festival uses…

“Imagine the World”