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5 Ways to Beat the Post-Vacation Blues

Learn why we often suffer from post-vacation blues and what we can do to feel better. 
Photo: Shutterstock

Did you know that 93 percent of people say being on vacation improves their wellbeing and mental health? Going on vacation is a joyful and relaxing time for many. However, we sometimes experience sadness once we’re back home to normality. Here, the travel experts at SkyParkSecure, a UK-based parking distributor, have worked with medical writer and expert Deborah Lee, M.D., from Dr Fox online doctor and pharmacy to explain why we often suffer from post-holiday blues and what we can do to ease this. 

What are the post-vacation blues?

Post-vacation blues are also known by the medical term post-travel depression (PTD). After a vacation, it’s common to feel a range of emotions including sadness. Mood disturbance can also occur, with increased anxiety and depressive symptoms. Sufferers can feel tired, exhausted, and have difficulty concentrating. The key difference between PTD and anxiety and depression is that PTD is temporary and will resolve, although this can take several weeks.

Why do we suffer from this?

It’s due to a range of underlying factors including: 

  • The natural let-down after the buildup, planning, and anticipation of a vacation.
  • Cortisol levels fluctuate on vacations. High cortisol levels are a feature of stress. After the vacation, you go back to your normal routine, and your cortisol levels may well fall.
  • You may have overindulged with excess vacation food and alcohol. Getting your diet and exercise routine established again can be difficult.
  • You may not have slept well on vacation, so your sleep routine has been disturbed. 
  • You must now face the worries you left behind, including finances, looking after family, etc.
  • The longer the vacation, the worse the PTD. The symptoms of travel sickness or jet lag also exacerbate this.

Top tips to help cope with the post-holiday blues:

  1. Think ahead and be ready for when you’re back home.
    Leave your house clean, tidy, and welcoming for your return, with bread and milk in the freezer and fresh sheets on the bed. If possible, try to get an extra day at home before returning to work to get organized. 
  2. Be kind to yourself.
    This has well-known health benefits when you start to take good care of yourself. Treating yourself with kindness can lower your blood pressure and cortisol levels. Make sure you have a proper sleep regime with seven hours of good-quality sleep per night. Eat a nutritious diet and get regular exercise. Stay well hydrated, drinking at least two liters of water daily. Stop drinking alcohol, or at least cut down. Schedule time in your busy day for relaxation. 
  3. Practice daily gratitude.
    Once you’re home, if you’re feeling sad, don’t add to this by constantly looking over your holiday pictures or thinking about how carefree you were compared to now. Instead, practice daily gratitude. Each morning or evening, take between 10 to 15 minutes to write down three to five things you’re grateful for. For example, working so you can save money towards your next holiday. Doing so will bring your mindset back to normality and allow you to focus on the positives.  
  4. Keep connected.
    Don’t have an empty diary. Contact friends and family and get some social events booked. Humans need other humans. Loneliness is as dangerous for health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. This is also a good opportunity to share your holiday memories with others.
  5. Plan another break.
    Perhaps the best way to get over your PTD is to plan another holiday. But now you know about PTD, so take steps to minimize it in the future. Awareness of the condition is helpful—it’s common, normal, and will pass. Do what you can to care for yourself on holiday. Stay well hydrated while you are away. Continue with any medication you’ve been taking and don’t run out. 

According to Lee, if your PTD symptoms do not improve within three weeks of coming home, consider seeing your general practitioner, as it could be a sign you have more serious underlying psychological issues.

“We tend to spend weeks or months looking forward to our holidays, so it’s only normal that emotions can run high when you get back home,” says Martin Jones from SkyParkSecure. “Being kind to yourself and knowing it’s a completely normal feeling is the first step to beating the post-holiday blues.”

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.