Many people who travel on vacation/holiday find themselves experiencing post-vacation blues, also known as post-vacation or post-travel depression. This condition is marked by an overall decrease in well-being and work productivity following a satisfying vacation. Having to get back into the routine of work, school, and daily life in general can be a source of distress, disorientation and discomfort. However unpleasant it may be, though, the post-vacation blues can be overcome with a little determination, some perspective, some insight on lessons learned from vacation, and a little self-care.
Making Physical Changes
1Adjust your sleep schedule ahead of time. Many travelers experience jet lag after traveling, especially if the trip crossed one or more time zones. Jet lag can affect your ability to sleep on a normal schedule, and that lack of sleep quality and/or quantity could contribute to feeling disoriented and depressed that your vacation is over.
- Get yourself re-acclimated to your home time zone by getting up and going to bed several hours earlier or later (depending on which way you’re traveling) for several days before you plan on returning.
- Try to stick to your usual sleep schedule from home while on vacation, if at all possible. Staying on schedule can help make the transition back to your normal life a little easier.
- Avoid all alcohol and caffeine for at least three to four hours before you plan on going to bed.
2Exercise while you’re on vacation. Having a workout routine that you stick to while you’re traveling can help keep you in shape and reduce stress and fatigue. If you continue that workout regimen after you return from your trip your body will have a sense of physical stability. Exercise also releases endorphins, which can help fight depression as well.
- Exercising while you travel may seem daunting, but with a little planning it can be very easy to accommodate.
- Pack a pair of athletic shoes and some workout clothes, or put on your swimsuit and swim laps in the pool.
3Schedule your return trip with a few days to acclimate. The hardest thing to adjust to when coming back from a trip is returning to your normal work/school schedule. However, if you give yourself a day or two to acclimate back to your normal routine, you can make that transition much easier.
- Even if you haven’t crossed any time zones, it can be difficult to adjust to your day-to-day routine after the fun and spontaneity of a vacation.
- If at all possible, try to return to work on a Tuesday. That way you’ll skip the hectic nature of a Monday workday and you’ll only have a four-day week to return to.
- If you plan on resuming work on a Tuesday, make sure you return home on Saturday or Sunday at the latest.
Shifting Your Perspective
1Enjoy the experiences and memories you have. In many cases, changing the way you think about something can alter the way you feel about it, too. This type of cognitive shift may not happen overnight, but with regular practice you can change your frame of mind to appreciate the experiences you’ve had, rather than mourning the inevitable return to your daily life.
- Try to see the enjoyable moments of your trip as part of a lifelong series of new experiences and lasting memories.
- Be grateful that you had the chance to experience your vacation. Remember that many people cannot afford to travel or are limited by other life factors.
2Introduce elements of your trip into your daily life. While you may not be able to jet set across the globe every week, you can incorporate some of the things you enjoyed into your home life. If you really enjoyed the cuisine on your trip, make a point of learning to cook dishes from that culture at home. If you loved hearing and speaking a foreign language, commit to taking language or culture classes at a local community college.
- By infusing your home life with elements of your trip, you can keep the excitement and sense of discovery alive wherever you live.
- Bringing back elements of your trip can also help you grow as a person and expand your sense of identity and culture.
- Just be sure that you’re respectful of the cultural elements you bring back, as appropriating certain elements of culture is generally considered offensive in many societies.
3Reassess your life. If you find yourself truly unhappy and unfulfilled when you’re back at home, perhaps you’re not just missing your vacation. Vacations are fun because they offer a break from the tedium and familiarity of life, but if you’re miserable being at work or at home, you may want to consider making changes to feel happier. Doing this may help you see the good things in your life and eliminate the things that make you unhappy, like your job or your current neighborhood.
- Give yourself at least 3 days before committing to any huge life decisions. You may find your everyday life not so horrible after settling back into a routine.
- Don’t rush into any big life changes, but do use the time after a vacation to reflect on what elements of your life you’d like to change.
- Think about whether you feel challenged or appreciated at your current job. You can also reflect on whether you feel comfortable and “at home” in your current apartment, house, or neighborhood.
- Talk to close friends and family members before making any big decisions. Even if reassessing your life leads you to realize how happy you are with your current situation, you’ll have had a great epiphany that might make you feel more content.
- Talk to your doctor as well. You may be suffering from depression, which can affect your ability to adjust to life changes.
Re-Adjusting to Your Normal Life
1Carry reminders of home while you travel. Some studies suggest that bringing reminders of home with you when you travel can help reduce the sense of being in a new and different environment. This may help ease the transition back into your normal routine when you return from your trip. Even small, easy-to-pack items like a photograph of your family, your favorite blanket or pillow, or some other frequently-encountered object (like a coffee cup) can help reduce the sense of being away from home and/or your loved ones.
2Know what to expect when you return. For many people, part of the discomfort of returning to work is the stress that comes back after being away. However, one way to cut down on that stress when you return is to contact a coworker a day or two before you’ll be returning to work. Your colleague can fill you in on any changes and let you know about anything you might have missed, which can make the transition back into your workplace a little less stressful than coming in blind to those issues.
- While it’s good to keep in contact with coworkers, you also shouldn’t be worrying about what’s happening at work the whole time you’re on vacation.
- Try to avoid contacting your coworker(s) until just before you leave to return home. That way you’ll be able to enjoy your time away while still getting a quick update to start planning for.
3Bring a vacation souvenir back to your workplace. If you’re worried you might have a hard time adjusting to being back at work, school, or just being home in general, having a souvenir around might make that transition a little smoother. Souvenirs can remind you of the fun time you had, and studies have shown that imagining being back in a fun, relaxing place is often enough to relieve stress and anxiety after returning from a big trip.
- If you have an office, decorate your desk and/or your wall with some photographs of your trip. You can also bring little desk-top statues or a calendar with photos from your vacation.
- If you don’t have your own office or desk, try bringing back something you can wear to work. Even with a strict dress code you might be able to get away with wearing a bracelet or necklace that will remind you of your trip.
4Begin planning your next vacation as soon as you get back. Having another vacation on the horizon, even if it won’t be for quite a long time, can help you adjust to being back at work/school. It can be psychologically upsetting to be back in your old routine, but knowing that something just as fun is in your future will brighten up your day and give you something to look forward to.
- If possible, schedule your vacation time immediately. Just the act of putting time aside for vacation next time is an act affirming that you will have vacation time again.
- Any time you find yourself feeling down, think about fun things you’d like to do on your next trip. You can even begin researching the things you’d like to see and do in your free time (but don’t do this at work or you may get in trouble).
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- Always allow extra time for your return trip. You might hit traffic if you’re driving, and there might be delays or scheduling changes for flights and bus/train rides.
- Children and teenagers may find it more difficult to adjust after a long and enjoyable vacation, especially if the school schedule begins immediately following the trip. Be sure to factor in plenty of time to return home and get back into a normal routine before having them return to school.
- Be aware that not everyone will be sympathetic to your post-vacation blues. It may come off as whining or spoiled to some friends, family, or colleagues, even though your feelings are very real and valid.
- Don’t take it out on other people around you at home or at work if you’re frustrated at coming back to work after a good vacation. They don’t deserve it, and they didn’t get the benefits of your time off.
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