It seems fitting that the last 12 months of my life have been bookended by two amazing – yet entirely different – holidays.
In the summer of 2017, I watched as everyone else in my workplace jetted off to various locations from Tenerife to South Wales, only to throw my hands up in the air towards the end of September and scream ‘I NEED A HOLIDAY’ in an entirely unnecessary and dramatic fashion.
I called my mum and within a few days, we had booked to go to Menorca for the last week in October, getting a bargain deal and returning home on the last flight before the island quite literally shut up shop for the year. As I write this blog post, its almost a full year later and I’m on an airplane returning from a very different trip entirely.
We have have spent the last fortnight kangaroo spotting and beach-hopping in Melbourne, Australia, where we visited my brother and his wife. See my comedic grin above where I was snapped chilling out with my little brother in Oz.
We’ve never been keen travellers, so having two sunny trips abroad in the space of a year has felt like a real treat, but I think it’s also fair to say that I’ve felt in dire need of the true relaxation that comes with getting away from UK life, the pressures of work and the painful reliance on social media and technology on a minute by minute basis.
If you’ve read my blog before you’ll be well aware that I’ve struggled with my mental health. It’s not something that I’m ashamed of anymore, in fact, I kind of make a living out of talking about it.
Whilst I was lying poolside in Menorca last October I realised that after writing hundreds of blog posts about depression and anxiety, I was ready to embark on something new, something more exciting.
I jotted down the title Depression In A Digital Age and thought that it would make a really cool book title.
Just a few weeks before I packed my suitcase to travel down under at the end of last month, I submitted the final draft of my memoir called ‘Depression In A Digital Age’ and I now patiently await its release at the end of November.
Can a holiday really change your life?
Had you asked me that in June of 2012 I would have laughed and cried simultaneously, as I slid into my sixth week of sick leave from work with a fresh diagnosis of stress, depression and anxiety.
I had booked a week in Spain a few months beforehand and the thought of going away was filling me with dread.
As I struggled to keep my head above water and come to terms with the black cloud which followed be around on a daily basis, my mum chirped positively ‘maybe a holiday will do you good!’
In this particular case, a week in the sun was nowhere near close to the kind of self-care and medical attention needed to bring me back to life, but I can see now that in less pressing circumstances how a holiday can do wonders for the soul.
Just look at how happy I was to get my picture taken with this image of a carrot when I was in Oz! How much more proof could you need?
I’ve spent a lot of my recovery attached to my phone. As a textbook introvert, I feel at home online where I can carefully work out my anxious, complicated thoughts in a WhatsApp message or one of these lengthy blog posts.
I’ve unexpectedly connected with some of the best people in the world, making life friends who are not relegated to my DMs but have become coffee buddies, workmates and people who I call when I need to talk.
But with the online world comes the addiction and self-gratification of posting selfies (nothing wrong with that) and checking how many likes said selfie has received every 5 minutes until it reaches a number that feels good.
In the same way that my work inbox gets to an unmanageable stage a few times throughout the year, the constant ringing of smartphone notifications becomes stimulation overload to the point where I need to go cold turkey.
One of the best bits about going on holiday is selecting the books I want to read, and whilst in Australia, I read a collection of essays by Laura Jane Williams called Ice Cream For Breakfast.
It’s been on my reading list for months and I devoured it whilst we drove in between vineyards in the Yarra Valley in Australia just a few days ago.
Sometimes you need to actively seek out those magic moments. Book the holiday, schedule in the downtime and make a conscious decision to turn off your data (actual heaven) and be in the moment.
In between tasting the finest pinot noir in the world, spending two weeks with my favourite people and reflecting on the best year of my career so far I even accidentally managed to fulfill one of Laura’s best pieces of advice by literally having ice cream for breakfast.
It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?