We’ve all been there. You return from a vacation sad, dejected and even less refreshed than you were before you left. Sure, you may have drunk your body weight in cocktails by the pool (or gluhwein by the fireplace, depending on where you were), danced the night away or caught up on some much-needed R n R, but now you’re feeling like none of that ever happened at all.
The post-holiday blues are a very real thing. While vacations do lift peoples' spirits, the effects unfortunately don't last long.
It’s not uncommon to crash at the end of your vacation – a heady mix of sadness that the good times are over, the adjustment of returning to work/everyday life and overindulging in food and alcohol.
Here are a few tips on how to kick the post-holiday blues after that amazing vacation:
Start planning your next trip
I remember flying back from three weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia and planning my next break while on the plane home. It might be in six months’ time, a year’s time or even five years’ time, but planning where you want to go next will help dull the pain of saying goodbye to the great holiday you’re just been on. Even thinking about and planning things can give you as much pleasure as actually doing them.
Find things to look forward to
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to travel, whether that’s for health, financial or other reasons. So if you’re coming down hard from a holiday, it’s important to plan things to look forward to, both short and long term. In other words, shift the focus to everyday things that give you pleasure. Think about weekends away at the beach or in the wilds, planning a dinner with your friends, treating yourself to a massage or date night with your partner.
Look after yourself
Holidays often involve a lot of socialising and partying, which means a lot of eating and probably way too much drinking. Having a hangover from eating the wrong types of foods and alcohol doesn’t help with those post-holiday blues. It’s time to start looking after yourself by eating right, drinking less and moving more. Add a walk at least once a day and a more regular bedtime. Regular self-care routines may have disappeared during your break but you can reclaim them.
Phone a friend
If you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps, a great way to lift your spirits is to share a laugh or two with friends. Steer away from conversations about how you’d rather be back on that beach in Barbados and instead share a lively conversation about what’s going on in your life right now. Just chatting to a mate is a great way to lift your spirits.
Make some real changes
Did you absolutely love those arepas you ate in Colombia? Or maybe you’re a little obsessed with flamenco music after that trip to Spain? Your holiday doesn’t have to completely end. Take what you enjoyed from your break and incorporate it into your life. If you ate foods you adored on your holidays, make them at home or find a restaurant that serves them. If you loved hearing and speaking a foreign language, start to learn it. Listen to the same music you danced to in the club in Madrid and meditate like you did on that retreat in Bali. Take a little bit of your trip home with you.
Take a meditative few minutes
Speaking of meditation, why not take a few minutes during your day to reflect on the great times you had? It’s a bit of a clichéd, old-fashioned idea but “counting your blessings” can be an antidote to the blues.
If you’re jetlagged...
Being jetlagged on top of a little depressed at the end of your holidays doesn’t help. Jetlag affects your ability to sleep on a normal schedule, and that lack of sleep can contribute to feeling depressed that your vacation is over. Get yourself back in sync with your home time zone by trying to stick to your usual sleep schedule. Also avoid alcohol and caffeine for a few hours before you go to bed.
Give yourself an attitude transplant
If you’re still trudging around depressed that your break is over, it’s time to change your thoughts. Looking at the world through mud-covered glasses won’t help you. In many cases, changing the way you think about something can alter the way you feel about it. As that great Cat in the Hat, Dr Seuss, once said, “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!”
You’ll probably come home to mountains of work emails, meetings to go to, doctor’s appointments which need to be kept, a messy garden, the cat needing its vaccination, piles of dirty clothes… the list goes on. It’s enough to send you into a panic. Stop, breathe, prioritise - the key word being prioritise. It might be tempting to try to do everything at once, but you will get completely overwhelmed and stressed out. Figure out what is most important and work down the list from there.
If you are anything like me, you’ll come home with thousands of photos, or most certainly more than you know what to do with. Go through your photos, delete what you don’t need, upload them into online albums and label them – don’t just leave them sitting on an SD card. Reminisce about your vacation by displaying those photos. Set them as backgrounds on your work or home computer, phone or tablet. You can also print out a few pictures to pin up around your home or office to remind you of those relaxed days.
Remember, the blues won’t last
It might feel raw, but take comfort in the knowledge that nothing lasts forever, including the post-holiday blues. Time will pass, soon that trip will be a distant memory (which isn’t such a bad thing, holding on to the past is never healthy) and you’ll eventually get back into the swing of things!
Do you get the post-holiday blues? How do you deal with them? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below, or share if you enjoyed this article.