Raise your hands if you’ve ever felt down after a lovely vacation. Psst, it’s more common than you think. Here’s a lowdown on this condition and what you can do to overcome it.
So, you’re on the best vacation ever and don’t want it to end. But eventually, it has to. Sucks! I know how that feels. I recently had a month-long vacation in Melbourne, and when it was time to return home, I dreaded it. What’s this sadness that I was experiencing? Was it just in my head? Was I the only one feeling it? Newsflash: I wasn’t the only one, and it’s apparently a real thing…
What is “post-vacation depression”?
The term refers to the state of melancholy people may experience after their return from vacation. It can also be known as post-holiday blues. While post-vacation depression is not a medically recognised condition, what you feel and its effects are still valid. Fortunately, the syndrome doesn’t last long, and you can manage these feelings with some healthy coping mechanisms.
What are the symptoms?
Post-vacation depression can show up in different ways, depending on the individual. Signs that you might experience following a vacation include:
- Being easily irritable or upset
- Sleeping difficulties
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Lack of focus and/or motivation
- Appetite changes
- Anxiety about going back to work
The next few days after my return from Melbourne, I was out of sorts. I continually spaced out and didn’t feel like doing anything. I gave brief, vague responses when people asked me about my trip. I wasn’t looking forward to going back to work. I didn’t understand why I was feeling malaise. Now I know why…
Why do we experience these blues?
Various studies indicate that vacations are good for one’s mental health. Stress is reduced, and there’s a boost in your well-being. However, these positive effects may disappear after you return from your travels.
Now, you may be thinking: should I not travel then if this were to happen every time I take a vacation? Of course not! The pros of vacationing far outweigh the cons. With the right tools and mindset, you can overcome post-vacation depression.
How to deal with post-vacation depression
It’s normal to feel sad because your vacation is ending. To combat the blues, here are some proactive ways that you can do, both pre- and post-holiday.
1. Clean your home before leaving
Don’t put off doing your chores until your return. You may feel even more dispirited when you realise you’re coming home to a list of household tasks to complete. So, make an effort to do some housekeeping before your trip. Make the bed, wash the dishes, put away the laundry, and take out the trash. It’ll be worth it, especially if you’re returning with jet-lagged littles in tow.
2. Don’t cram too many things into your trip
It may be tempting to shoehorn places you want to visit and things you want to do during your trip. Don’t do it! Take things easy – you’re on vacation, after all. Plan your days properly, and factor in some downtime in between. The kiddos will appreciate it, too. Who wants endless meltdowns on holiday?! It’s okay if you miss out on certain activities; it gives you an excuse to revisit the country if you want to in the future!
3. Create many memories you can look back on
While you’re on vacation, document your trip as much as possible. Take loads of photos, jot down your adventures (and misadventures), and get souvenirs that’ll remind you of your vacation. Get the kids involved in the process, too – sorting through the photos and journaling the day’s events is a great downtime activity at the end of a busy sightseeing sesh. Once you’re back home, you can print out your photos, find a place for your souvenirs, and share everything that happened with your loved ones. Doing these things can also remind you and the kids how memorable your trip was.
I uploaded the photos and videos I took on my Instagram, and now, whenever I go through them, I look back with fond memories of my trip.
4. Set aside a couple of days to readjust
In most cases, travellers return to work the day after their vacation. What they don’t realise is that doing so can exhaust you, and it can be just as exhausting (if not more so) if you’re planning on sending the kids straight back to school the next day. We all want to maximise school holidays and get our money’s worth, but taking a couple of days off to recalibrate is worthwhile. You can use the time to unpack, recharge (if the kids will let you), sleep off the jet lag (again, kids permitting), and hydrate! If you can grab a few mins, practise self-care before returning to your routine.
When planning my recent trip, I made sure to set aside a few days off to decompress. The post-holiday blues still hit me, but it wasn’t bad.
5. Schedule something for when you return home
A major reason folks get post-vacation depression is that they feel there’s nothing left to look forward to after their trip. To combat that feeling, plan for something fun with the fam ahead of your return. It doesn’t have to be an expensive activity or something that will take place immediately.
I visited my siblings and nieces a couple of days after my return. Seeing the little ones and watching their reactions to the souvenirs I got for them felt good. I caught up with my siblings and shared the highlights of my trip. I’ve also scheduled a meetup with my close friends, which I’m excited about. They’ll definitely ask about my vacation, and I feel good enough to talk about it at length this time.
6. Research and plan for your next trip
What can you do to take your mind off the post-holiday blues? By researching for your next vacation, of course! It may seem counterintuitive, but doing this gives you something to do and look forward to. List down the places you want to visit during the next school hols and plan how to achieve that goal. Before you know it, you’re on your way to your next destination. Woop woop!
7. Seek help if it becomes too difficult
If your post-vacation depression is going on for too long, consider reaching out for help. Talk to a therapist who can help you find your footing – there’s always support.
It’s completely normal to experience the post-holiday blues, and you’re not alone. The end of vacation mode can be disappointing for all the fam, but it shouldn’t overwhelm you. Take the necessary steps to overcome it, and you’ll be back on your feet in no time. You’ll be able to look back on your trip fondly and prepare for your upcoming vacation.
Ready for your next vacay? Take note of the public holidays this year and start planning, stat!