The first day after the holidays is one of the grimmest in the working year. You’ve swapped the beaches and blue skies for a view of traffic jam and the sound of mobile phone. Have you ever felt more drained after a relaxing trip abroad than you did before you went?
You don’t want to go back to reality, but you know you must. Often, we can just shake it off, but a combination of tiredness and a return to the hectic nature of everyday life means you could spend days, even weeks, feeling down and out.
Here are some tips on how to beat the post-holiday blues:
1. Realise that this is quite normal
Holidays can be a lovely break from routine, and an opportunity to have space and time to think, relax and enjoy yourself. When we return and get straight back in to our routine, only to find that nothing has really changed and we’re coming back to the same old stuff, it can feel like a kind of a flop. Thus, it’s important to recognise these feelings for what they are – a balancing out and a return to equilibrium. Understanding why we feel low after the high of a holiday is the first step towards combating the bad feelings that can accompany your return.
2. Get a grip on jet lag
One of the major culprits that can rob you of your post-holiday glow is jet lag. Some people don’t believe in it, while others suffer badly. If you’ve ever been wide awake at 4am and dozing at lunchtime, even a week after your return, you’ll know how hellish it can be. The body clock, which is in the brain in the hypothalamus, takes a few days to adjust to the timing of light and darkness at the destination, and this disrupted rhythm results in a host of unpleasant symptoms, including tiredness, headache, disorientation, poor concentration and indigestion
It’s not just travelling across time zones that can result in the tiredness that’s characteristic of jet lag, but also how busy and exhausted you were before your trip, and how much or little sleep you got when you were away. Try to at least attempt to stick to regular rhythms when abroad – your body clock will thank you for it.
Light therapy can be used to help with jet lag once it has happened. The idea is to adjust to the timing of light and dark at your new destination. It would be better if you can avoid heavy meals before bedtime, which may disrupt sleep. If all else fails, you may try aromatherapy like Bali Radiance‘ Jet Lag to help readjust your rhythms.
3. Drink lots of water
Pretty much everything you do on holiday will contribute to dehydration, from flying to eating salty foods and drinking alcohol, and even just being in the heat. Make sure you’re getting at least two litres of water a day, more if you feel you need it. If you’re only a stone’s throw from your holiday destination and still feeling jet lagged, it’s more likely dehydration that’s the trouble.
4. Give yourself some space
When booking a holiday, make a little time to settle back in when you arrive back home. So even though the temptation to stay abroad as long as possible will be there, realise that this could undo all the good work of your holiday – especially if you arrive home at midnight and are due back in work the next morning at 9am.
5. Avoid artificial stimulants
It’s very tempting to want to keep the holiday going when you get back home, but hitting the pub (or even the wine and the sofa) and then reigniting your flame with coffee the next morning will do you no good whatsoever. It will only contribute to the aforementioned dehydration and prevent your rhythms from returning to normal. Knock the booze on the head until you feel more human, and cut back on caffeine. And even though you might not feel like cooking, healthy home-made food is your best bet.
6. Arrange for some me-time
Do small little things when you come back, for yourself. Have something nice planned, all for you, to soften the harshness of coming back to reality. This can be as simple as attending an event, having a pamper session or just seeing friends, but it will all help with easing the transition, and prove that life at home isn’t all work, school runs and chores.
7. Focus on the here and now
Most people have one of two reactions to the PHB – one is along the lines of ‘I’m never going away again, it’s too much trouble!’ And the other is an instinct to book another holiday, pronto. While planning a date on the calendar to count down to is nice, it’s not always wise to focus on the future. Holidays certainly do much to improve our mood, but they can also be an escape from the reality of our own internal world by offering short-lived comfort. This is possibly why some people book their next holiday having just returned from one. This is all good but the essence of being kind to yourself is to be present to how you are feeling, in as much as you can. It’s not about drowning in it, but just acknowledging it.
8. Make some real changes
The holiday doesn’t have to end. It can be used to make positive changes in your life. Take what you enjoyed and see if you can incorporate it in any way into your daily life, which may help to improve things. Aim to let go of responsibilities that are not important, necessary or don’t serve you well anymore. Of course, we can’t shirk our responsibilities, but there are areas in our life we can pay more or less attention to. So, focus on eating more seafood or getting more exercise like you did abroad, and try to think about the stresses of work less – remember, the world carried on while you were abroad.
9. Talk to those you love
For many people, a holiday is just that – a break from the norm that’s temporary. Therefore, they might not understand how you’re feeling. Try to explain to them that your time off just highlighted things that might need to be altered back home. It’s important that they understand how you’re feeling. We all need routine, and we all need a break from routine. If the comedown after an annual holiday is such a shock to the system, perhaps you might be better off taking a couple of shorter trips with greater frequency.