Post-holiday blues/depression....post-vacation depression....post-adventure blues
Whatever you want to call it – it’s ‘a thing’. I like to think of it as that general low mood you experience after an adventure or a holiday. And you know what? Like all mood fluctuations, it’s normal. And, sometimes, it isn't easy. Let's face it: do you really want to leave your holiday destination (beachfront, spa, fancy hotel etc etc) to come back home to work and pay the bills? Hell no!
There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of literature on the post-holiday blues, however, that doesn't take away from the challenges many people face with adjusting back into the daily grind and the reality of life after a holiday. There are a number of contributing factors which mediate our ability to adjust post-holiday:
- Long-haul travel
- Poor diet (plane food)
- Lack of exercise (i.e. sitting on a plane for many, many hours)
- Starting work too soon after getting back from holiday
- Poor sleep quality
So how can we enhance and prolong holiday happiness to avoid the post-holiday blues? Well, it begins while on holiday.
Not to be confused with mindfulness, Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff define savouring as “noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life – the positive counterpart to coping” (p. 5) by deeply engaging with our senses and environment to prolong pleasure. While mindfulness focusses on an awareness of the present (both the negative and positive aspects of our environment), savouring is about being aware of pleasure and deliberately trying to enhance the positive. So, try to savour your holiday experiences while away; engage, be fully conscious and soak up all the positive aspects of your environment.
Savouring benefits your holiday happiness levels while away and during the post-holiday adjustment period. Think about it: if you can be completely conscious of the positive experiences while you are travelling, you are then also more likely to be able to recall and relive positive holiday experiences when you’re back home reminiscing.
I'm home now. What can I do to manage the post-holiday blues?
There are a few things (TLC related: tender, loving self-care) to help get you back into routine and to nurture your wellbeing post holiday.
- Have a few days off before heading back to work. The rush of returning from holiday and then going back to work immediately is stressful – not to mention physically tiring.
- Get your sleep patterns back on track. Routine is important - try sleeping and waking at the same time every day. Get some sunshine/vitamin D to regulate your circadian rhythms.
- Exercise – outdoors or indoors – physical activity will assist with adjusting and managing sleep difficulties but also regulate your energy levels.
- Diet. Plane food is not crash hot, so eat a well balanced diet when you return. Hydration is key.
- Schedule activities that bring you pleasure. Take up a new hobby. Organise some social catch-ups. Keep that holiday high going.
Ok, that’s it from me folks. Imma digesting some homemade pita bread pizza - pretending I’m still back in Italy.
Bryant, F. B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.