We have all experienced coming back from an amazing vacation. Most people find that the holidays are full of all this joy, excitement and wonderful experiences, but the minute your holiday ends you feel sluggish when you return to your everyday.
The Post-Holiday Blues are something that we can all identify with – we go away for a week, have a fabulous vacation, we wake up early Monday morning, we walk into our office and then there’s this work that’s piled up for us and emails to answer to. It’s normal to experience a low-grade depression and feel a little irritable, as we have a hard time focusing and finding our flow. But could there be a way to prevent that sense of dullness or fogginess when you return?
In this piece, we will talk about what you can do if you are experiencing the Post-Holiday Blues and some ways to prevent or minimise these feelings.
Things You Can Do to Help You Manage the Post-Holiday Blues
Research conducted by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons shows that people who regularly practise gratitude by taking time to reflect upon the things they’re thankful for, such as incredible holiday experiences, tend to feel more alive, experience more positive emotions, are happier and may even strengthen their immune system.
Human brains are wired to have the tendency to focus on the negative side of things. In order to trick our minds to not go in that direction, we can practise gratitude regularly. This can have a huge impact and increases our ability to pay more attention to the positive things, no matter how small they may be.
As such, instead of mourning the inevitable return to your daily life, appreciate the vacation you have experienced and try to savour the enjoyable moments of your trip as a part of lasting memories. Be thankful that you had the opportunity to get a vacation as many people cannot afford to travel either for financial or other life factor reasons.
Even after you have returned from your vacation, make it a habit to practise gratitude continually. A good way to do this is by challenging yourself each day to name at least three things that you are grateful for. Making this list of things that make you happy is a useful tool in ensuring a consistently good mood and a healthy state of mind. Some of the things you can include on the list are the things that make you feel excited, nostalgic or even those things that generally make you feel most alive and happy.
This daily challenge will have a significant impact on how you look at life, as it will help you value more greatly the people in your life, your living conditions, life experiences, as well as the things you have accumulated through the years. Practise gratitude every day and you will be amazed how this virtue will improve your life and your relationship with other people.
Plan Things to Look Forward to
Another simple strategy that you can use in order to prevent the post-holiday blues is by setting a new plan to look forward to. Whether that involves a new travel destination, an upcoming movie or a simple treat to yourself, setting a new plan to look forward to is a great strategy to condition our mind to not feel sad after an amazing holiday escapade.
The key to living happily even after you have returned from an amazing holiday lies in planning your days, weeks and months; incorporating other exciting activities and events that will keep you delighted. Make a list of the things that you love doing and schedule them in your calendar. This list of things does not have to be anything big; the important thing is it evokes feelings of joy and happiness.
In fact, having at least one thing each day to look forward to often forms a part of an effective treatment plan for people who are suffering from depression. Planning joyful things to look forward to is a great tool for any individual looking to improve their happiness level.
Expect to Be Let Down
Spending time away from the office can be both joyful and stressful at the same time. After all the fun, amazing and memorable activities during this break period, returning to the usual routine, and to your workplace, can dampen your spirits due to the lack of exciting things going on. On the other hand, it can also be stressful if your vacation period turned out to be not as enjoyable and fun as you’d expected it to be. Either way, these situations can sour your mood and can sometimes lead to post-holiday blues, which can be distracting when you return to work.
Indeed, there is no magic wand that can instantly make you feel better, and by just allowing yourself to feel down can help you make the necessary adjustments you need to in order to get yourself back to normal. It may take more than a few days to adjust to being back at the office and function normally and efficiently. In fact, a little sadness can actually be healthy for growth and development. Experiencing negative emotions from time to time can help us to more greatly appreciate the value of happiness.
Meditation (the practice of focusing the mind) is a gentle means to beat the post-holiday blues. Whether it’s by improving sleep, reducing stress, increasing your focus, or improving relationships, thousands of studies have shown that meditation can positively impact mental and physical health. In fact, meditation has been proven to bring calm in times of catastrophic illness and stress – not only does it help to calm the regions of the brain responsible for our stress response, it can also help a person to recuperate from the mental and emotional difficulties associated with their situation.
Practising can help to bring about a more positive outlook on life, which can be helpful when experiencing the post-holiday blues. Additionally, certain ways of meditating can positively impact a number of aspects of our lives (such as by repeating positive affirmations (for improved self-worth), or by focusing on what you are grateful for (for improving happiness levels)). Activities such as meditation that provide balance and harmony between mind and body are powerful in bringing joy and satisfaction to all aspects of life.
Proper Diet and Regular Exercise
Regular exercise can be very beneficial where you are struggling with the post-holiday blues. Not only is it a fabulous tool for reducing stress levels, regular exercise can boost your overall sense of well-being and even productivity (as you build physical and mental strength and resilience). Additionally, exercise results in the release of ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins, which are particularly beneficial when we are feeling flat. If you want to minimise or prevent the symptoms of the post-holiday blues, try to participate in some form of exercise most days of the week.
It has been proven that higher levels of physical activity may reduce the risk for depression as it acts as a distraction and can help to boost your mood. Eating a healthy diet which includes lots of fresh wholefoods (such as fruits and vegetables) that provide proper nutrition cutting down on sugar, energy drinks and alcohol can also help maintain good physical health and the energy levels required to go about your everyday life following a vacation or holiday period.
If you’re feeling intensely flat and/or sad for more than just a short period of time, you may be suffering from depression and are not just simply missing your recent vacation. The post-holiday blues won’t normally hinder how you function daily; you may feel a little bit down, but you still see a good future for yourself.
Depression on the other hand, also known as major depressive disorder, is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to effectively perform tasks at work and at home.
Depression can affect anyone—even a person who presents to live in relatively ideal circumstances. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feeling worthless or excessively guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Significant changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If you have any of these symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression and it is very important to seek professional help immediately. It is important to recognise when you need help and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Fortunately, depression is treatable.
If you or someone you know are struggling with depression, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team at Brain Wellness Spa, for professional assistance to recover from this common mental health illness.