It happens every time I return from vacation. I slip into a funk. I call it my “re-entry blahs.” My post vacation euphoria turns into post vacation blues. I never realized how common it was until I Googled “post vacation depression” and got over two million results!
You’d think practice would make perfect, but in my case it hasn’t. Since 2003, when I retired and became a grandma, I have visited my granddaughters twice a month and stay for two nights. And when I come home, the “transition” of getting back to my “regular” routine is always a challenge. It’s become so familiar now I just smile and remind myself I’ll be fine in a few days.
Those blahs can be even worse after a vacation. You forget about your daily responsibilities and focus on what’s the next fun thing to see, do, or eat. I’m just back from a five-day road trip to Southern California and I’ve got a bad case of blues. So what better way to work through my funk than to research tips for beating the post vacation blues.
Allow the same number of days to recover as the number of days you were gone. Author and blogger Michael Breus, PhD says that jet lag is a natural process. It will take your body about one time zone per day to normalize.
Rules for Re-entry
- Don’t feel compelled to unpack and attend to everything the first day. Do a little unpacking everyday and only what has to be done.
- Ease back into your old routine slowly. Don’t expect to have a clear desk on your first day back – allow yourself to be behind and to catch up steadily. Thinking you have to tackle all those emails in one sitting can be daunting.
- While you’re still on that vacation high, share it. Write a thank you note to someone you met on your trip or have lunch with a friend and share some of your favorite highlights.
- Start planning your next outing. What did you like in your vacation? What worked? What made everyone happy and joyful? Build on the good memories. If you collected some good ideas while you were away, put them in your “vacation folder.”
- Remind yourself what you’re grateful for as you return to your regular life. Reminisce, journal or scrapbook your memories and souvenirs. Download your photos and use your favorite as a screen saver.
- When you feel depressed, take a deep breath and visualize one of the memorable moments of your vacation.
- Eat simple fresh foods. You’ll probably crave some home-cooking after eating whatever you wanted on vacation.
Vacations help us regain our sense of spontaneity. Look for opportunities to carry on that vacation spontaneity when you’re back home. Give yourself time to unwind after a vacation because so much went on physically and mentally. Even though it was “fun,” it was also hard work. The body and mind need time to just relax and do nothing. Don’t panic when you see that pile of mail, mound of laundry, and empty refrigerator. If you recognize that it’s normal to feel some stress as you switch gears, you’ll have an easier time with re-entry and soon be back in your groove. I’m almost there.