Hey Travel Family,

Matt and I are finally home after a huge 18 (or so) days on our #squadSQ adventure with Singapore Airlines. I’m not sure if you remember but we were part of the first-ever #squadSQ trip last year when we visited South Africa, South Korea and Singapore. This year, we got to visit Paris, Hanoi and Singapore! The trip was jam-packed with amazing food, fun activities, new adventures and all our good friends who are also part of #squadSQ. We’ve got a whole range of written guides and fun videos coming to the website and YouTube channel, starting with our first video which comes out tonight! (P.S all the photos in today’s post are from our trip!)

We touched down last weekend and, as soon as we arrived, my mind and body relaxed and I realised how exhausted I was. When we got home, I got straight into bed and slept for a good few hours then spent the rest of the day on the couch resting. It was one of those times when you have to watch really trashy reality TV because your mind cannot comprehend any television show that has any kind of substance. My mind was mush!

Universal Studios, Singapore

It got me thinking about self-care and brought my focus back to how important mental health is, the cycles of it and the guilt I often feel around it. Sometimes I find social media to be a bit toxic, especially when it seems like everyone else has got their crap together! But, when I picked up my phone over the weekend, I was really happy to see posts supporting self-care, including ones I really needed to see saying things like, “It’s okay to rest!”

I guess I’ve heard so many people say things to me like, “It must be nice to go on holidays for a living,” that sometimes I start to believe it, even though it’s absolutely not accurate. Matt and I worked for 18 days straight, throwing in quite a few long flights in there too. It was the experience of a lifetime, something I’m so grateful for and loved every moment of! It’s what I work towards, enjoy doing and wish for more of. It also highlights the importance of proper self-care in-between trips because, I think we can all agree, working 18 days straight is tiring.

Bun Cha, Hanoi

Yet, I still felt guilty sitting on my couch watching a bunch of ‘sexy singles’ on a ‘nightmare vacation,’ and not just because it’s probably the deliciously worst show ever made. I felt like I had no right to be tired after such an amazing trip, especially as it’s part of my dream job! But I have a funny feeling that’s my mind/ego talking because I’ve always believed you achieve the things you want through hard work. In the early days of Little Grey Box, I used to publish a new blog post almost every day, creating content at break-neck speed. But, over the past few years, I’ve started to realise this is a marathon, not a sprint, and burning out isn’t going to get me where I want to be. It’s important to create a sustainable lifestyle that can help me achieve a lifetime of goals.

So, I’m trying my best to find a better balance and make sure I listen to myself. My first point of call was to have a little chat with myself that went something along the lines of, ‘Listen up, kid! It’s perfectly okay to have an amazing adventure and be tired afterwards. It doesn’t mean you didn’t have a great time, it actually kinda means you had such an amazing time that you went too hard and now you need a rest. It’s also okay to need some time to get your mental health back on track! The only person putting pressure on you is you!’

Marina Bay, Singapore

I really don’t know how digital nomads do it! I see so many talented creators who travel constantly, living on the road, going on adventure after adventure, publishing content at a high rate and I just can’t understand how they don’t have a meltdown. When I’m at home, I’m able to follow a routine, eat well, rest often, exercise, meditate, read, have down-time, cook, garden and do all those things that help me stay grounded and energised. When we’re on the road, we’re constantly working, moving between places, filming and meeting people. This requires a lot of energy and I’ve constantly got to be ‘on’ for the camera, meeting clients etc.

By the end of it, my introvert side is DECEASED and I need to barricade myself in my house for at least two weeks in order to recharge. Seriously, we got home nearly a week ago and I’ve left the house three times (and two of those were a walk around the block because Matt insisted I need ‘fresh air.’) I’ve moved catch-ups with friends, cancelled appointments and said no to a whole lot of stuff to give myself the space I need to get back to full me-ness. Heh, reading that back maybe I’ve actually made some strides in self-care?! Look at me, lookin out for me!

Le Marais, Paris

I guess I’m writing this as a reminder to myself and anyone else who feels like they have to keep going, lest they feel guilty or weak. It’s okay to be tired and it’s okay to need rest. It’s okay to lock yourself inside your house, live in your pyjamas, eat nothing but cereal and catch up on sleep and trashy TV. Sometimes self-care is glamorous, taking the form of health retreats, antioxidant smoothies, yoga and beauty treatments. Other times, self-care is gritty, taking the form of your favourite pyjamas, Netflix marathons, sleep-ins and isolation. All of those are okay. All of them! Personally, the gritty stuff is my favourite.

After a week of only wearing pyjamas and a truly wild messy bun, even while watering the front lawn and going to the supermarket for more cereal, I’m feeling a lot more relaxed. I don’t have any plans to stop going after my goals and dreams so it’s important I find ways to take care of myself and my mental health too. Rather than being part of my life I have to ‘get through,’ these post-trip times are a permanent part of my lifestyle and I want to cut out the self-loathing around feeling tired and make them times I show myself the love and kindness I need. I want them to be something I look forward to and cherish as important ‘me-time.’

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

So, here’s to amazing adventures and the amazing self-love that comes afterwards! Here’s to sipping champagne in Paris and drinking the leftover Coco-Pop milk on the couch, eating the same bun cha as Obama and Bourdain did in Hanoi and wearing the same pyjamas for a few days in a row at home. Sometimes we’re globe-trotting adventurists and other times we’re Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski but no matter where we are or what we’re doing, it’s important we’re putting our needs first, guilt-free.

Have a great weekend and be sure to check out our first YouTube video, it goes live tonight!

Phoebe x

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