Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Why your brain needs you to take a holiday



looking at the ionian sea, from corfu, greece, why your brain needs you to take a holiday, mandy charlton photography blog

I love travelling, I love holidays and I love exploring new places, I rarely come home from holiday any less tired than when I go on them because I feel the need to explore and share, to document and write about them.  I've never taken a beach holiday where I literally did nothing, well until this week.

As many of you who read my blog know, I have chronic anxiety, I worry and overthink everything, I pour my heart and soul into everything I do in life and work and it can be exhausting, I have intense periods of working myself to the bone followed by burn out periods where I'm afraid of the world, where I can't go out and want to perpetually run away.  The only times I'm protected from this is when I have my camera in my hand, it's like a shield to me, it protects me from my own mental health I suppose but the flip side is that after every wedding or day of portraiture I'm exhausted from giving so much of myself, this is why, this year I've tried to only be out shooting at weekends with the week at my desk and time spent with my family although I can't imagine life any other way because I love what I do, it's not just a job, it's my entire life.
sunset, greece, mandy charlton photographer



When a last minute holiday popped up to go to the Greek island of Corfu came up for Looby and I, I snatched it with both hands, a few days by the Ionian sea would do us the world of good.  I took 2 books, 1 novel and 1 business book with low expectations that I would read any of them but as it happened, I finished a huge novel (While I was Sleeping, very good, I really recommend it) and nearly finished She Means Business by Carrie Green too.

You see, I've travelled a lot with Looby but we've never had a beach holiday, she's phobic of boats so most trips were out of the question and our one potential excursion to Corfu Town didn't happen due to Corfu having a massive rubbish problem I didn't want to have to endure as I'd seen enough passing through the island and it's not a memory I wanted to bring home with me, we'd smelt it wafting in the wind when we were in the sea on Wednesday and that was enough.  It's a shame to see lay-by's piled high with rotting rubbish, the Greek economy needs tourism but if it doesn't fix it's refuse problem the tourists will stop going.  Where we were in Benitses it wasn't too bad although it was still evident.


Benitses though is a lovely sleepy village, yes it's a little dilapidated, a shadow of it's former days but amongst the crumbling buildings and the shut up shops there is beauty to be found, glorious sunrises and pink hued sunsets I watched from our balcony which looked directly at mainland Greece in the distance across the crystal blue waters of the warm Ionian sea.  We stayed at the Potamaki Beach Hotel, once a grand hotel, the grandest in Benitses, it probably still is though it has seen better days and could do with refurbishing.  It was comfortable though and far from unsatisfactory and we spent our days mostly submerged in the pool or the sea, we swapped from mornings at the beach to afternoons at the pool and our only change of routine was to do a morning by the pool and an afternoon next to the sea.  Even though there was a museum next door to the hotel we didn't venture in once (even though I wanted to).  For just 1 break I wanted to live at Looby's pace to just be at one with the ocean, to snorkel and realise we were amongst huge swathes of the most beautiful fish.  By day 2 I was so relaxed I even photographed Looby underwater by the pool, yes the iPhone X is waterproof.


Here's the thing I've come to realise, when you have an intense job which constantly requires you to be focused, when you are in a role which you can never switch off from, you need to relax, you need time to let your brain recover, for all I love my business and my company I never switch off and for just a few days my brain was grateful for the rest. I actually had some new ideas, I unwound, my thoughts became clear, for just a while I felt completely zen and at one with the world and when we flew home yesterday I knew I was ready for a whole new year.  It's just a shame that even less than a day later it feels like I've never been away.


So, the next time you are planning your next adventure, ask yourself when the last time you really had a rest was, and if you can't remember the last time you had a chance to read a book and not check your phone every twenty minutes, maybe go and search for a sunshine holiday by the sea, with an epic view and a chilled back way of life and go and do it, don't beat yourself up for taking me time, don't punish yourself because you need to stop and not do anything because in the end your mental health, your family and your busy companies and businesses will thank you in the end.
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