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My Formula: Serena Guen
Suitcase Magazine's founder + CEO on the perks of travel.
"For me, health is the association of both mind and body—you can’t have one without the other. This means that the most important thing is to keep stress under control. It’s not about being glowing all the time and never getting a cold—it’s about not burning out. You need to be in a good headspace and design your life in a way that’s conducive to that, then you’re less likely to get sick.
It’s been a learning curve for me, though. Up until a few months ago, I was definitely one of those people that would push myself really hard, but my body just wasn’t agreeing with me. I was doing way too many things, and I would keep going until my body would completely crash out. It was saying “hey, slow down,” but I wasn’t listening to it. Living in London and running a business, I felt the need to keep up, or one-up everything all the time. It wasn’t until I started doing less that I realized I can actually do more, if that makes sense?
Some basic self-care things I do everyday—like taking a probiotic—really help. But above everything, I try not to have endless work days which used to be a bad habit of mine. Now if I’m tired, I’ll go home at 6pm. Consequently, that means I haven’t been ill for a while. I feel more in control and happier than when I was all go, go, go—and I’m not relying on coffee to get through each day which feels healthier. I’ve also started to go to bed earlier. I used to feel really lame going to bed before midnight, but no one cares, and they don’t care if you turn down a couple of invitations either.
If I’m in London, I usually get up around 7am. I try to do pilates a few days a week, before I have breakfast. Most mornings I’ll have yoghurt with some fruit, or toast and eggs. Then I go to the Suitcase Magazine offices in Mayfair. I founded the magazine in 2012 when I was still in college, and my role has changed quite a bit since then. I’ve gone from editor in chief to CEO with a team of 14 people, which is both a blessing and a challenge. I used to not take time for lunch, but since I started tuning into what my body wants I schedule it in. Often, it’s pasta or steamed rice with vegetables, olive oil, and soy sauce, I leave work around 7pm, and then it’s either a work-related event or a date night with my boyfriend.
I started Suitcase because I’ve always loved traveling, and that hasn’t changed in the past seven years. I’d say at least a third of my year is spent on the road. It inspires and energizes me—and gives me a lot of job satisfaction. Being in new places, I love it, and I try to take a small habit back with me from each place I visit. Like in New York, for example, people are so ambitious and excited about what they’re doing, so I try and bring some of that positivity back to England with me. Because I’m lucky enough to travel a lot, I’m pretty good at packing, too. I squish everything into a carry-on: Probiotics, a little first aid kit, Kiehl’s toner, some clothes, and no more than two pairs of shoes. On the plane, I throw a shawl around me and wear a long sleeve top so I don’t get cold.
The most popular destination searches on our website are Japan, Sri Lanka, Isla Holbox, and Budapest, but I’d add Copenhagen and Italy to my personal list. Further afield, I think the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to is the Philippines. The island El Nido is amazing and has the bluest water you’ve ever seen. Top of my to-visit list this year is Patagonia and also Rwanda in East Africa to see the gorillas. It’s still exciting that this is “work” for me."
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