Feeling bummed and a little depressed when returning home after an idyllic getaway? You are most likely experiencing post-vacation blues. This mood often settles in once we go back to our usual routines after an extended time away. A study by The Journal of Happiness Studies reported that though employees felt happier after vacation, their health and well-being declined one they returned to work. The highs of being on vacation can leave us feeling low about the life we are returning to. We even start to compare the amazing activities we did on vacay to our seemingly boring home lives. Not sure if you have the post-vacation blues? Symptoms often include fatigue, depression, nostalgia, lethargy, lack of motivation, and loss of appetite.
The fact is amazing adventures or moments of relaxation while on vacation, are hard to compare to our everyday lives. Which makes the hardest part of going on vacation is returning from it.
Here’s some tips to help your transition back to the real world.
Don’t completely unplug
I don’t know about you, but the best part of vacation for me is the opportunity to unplug. Taking a break from work emails is necessary, but don’t leave checking your inbox until the end of your trip. Set aside a specific time each day to check your email and stay up to date on any developments at work. It’s important to ease back into your normal life and to reduce the stress of playing catchup.
Include a buffer day
Though it may seem like an efficient use of time, try not to go to work immediately after a vacation. Sometimes you lose all the benefits of going away. Instead, when planning your trip, include an extra day at the end to spend at home. Upon returning, this buffer period allows you to prepare yourself for your normal routine and to recover from jet lag. The switch back to office life will feel less abrupt, and you will be riding the post-vacay high for much longer. Think of this time as your vacation from your vacation.
We all have our own wellness habits that we stick to when at home, but we don’t always stick to while away. Set yourself up for a successful week back by planning out your health and wellness routines. Be reasonable with yourself and your time. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to sign up for a 6am cycle class when you aren’t an early bird.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but if you are feeling sad, look back at pictures or videos from your vacation. Just because you are back home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forget your trip! Choose a photo of two to put on your desk or to use as your screensaver. Think about all the fun moments you had! Your vacation was not a separate part of your life, but meant to enrich it.
Share your experiences
Beyond sharing your experiences on social media, connect with friends and family in person. It’s fun to share the details of a fun trip with those we care about. Also, it is a great way to transition back to home life by engaging with those who are close to you. Concerned about boring your friends with long stories about your vacation? Find ways for your friends to experience what you did or learned on your trip, not just hear about it.
Relive the experiences
When on vacation, we are most likely to try new things, and too often we do not do that at home. Instead of feeling blue that you can’t go do a certain activity at your ideal vacation spot, find a way to do that same activity at home. Loved biking through the hills of Tuscany? Buy your own bike and explore your own city. Maybe you ate a delicious meal in Spain, now try recreating that meal at home!
Plan your next vacation
Science shows that the best part of a vacation is planning one. The anticipation of another vacation on the horizon of what is to come can make us happy. Being back in your usual routine can be hard, but knowing that something just as fun is in your future will brighten up your day and give you something to look forward to. Feeling sad? Think about and research things you would like to do on your next trip. Just don’t get too distracted at work!
Explore your own neighborhood
If planning your next vacation isn’t possible, make plans to explore your own neighborhood. You’ll be surprised of the discoveries you make in your own backyard. You live there for a reason — why not get to know your community or nearby cities better? And remember, never let the fear of going alone stop you, otherwise, you are sure to miss out!
Post-vacation blues happens to everyone. You are not alone in feeling that your mind is at the beach when your body is actually at your desk. If your blues are lasting for an extending period of time, consider consulting a professional. That may be sign that you need to shake things up in your home life.