Travel feeds the soul. There’s no doubt about that. But, we can’t all press pause on life and disappear for months on end. The majority of us have to make do with short breaks away, which often feel like a hazy dream as soon as we’ve had a day back at work. So how can we hold on to that getaway buzz and avoid the post-holiday blues?
Research says up to 57% of us experience “post-holiday blues”, with those already suffering mental illness at risk of increased anxiety and depression when they return. The good news is, there are lots of ways to not only make that reality kick easier, but to bottle what we felt on holiday and apply it in our everyday lives just like sun lotion.
1. Make it a soft landing
If you can, avoid going straight into a stressful situation like rushing back to the office or a social engagement the moment you step off the plane. Wherever possible, I avoid landing late and then heading back to work the next day.
Give your mind time to adjust, and gradually re-introduce “real life”. If you have a weekend before you go back to work, even better. It can help to prepare for your return before you set off. I make sure my place is tidy, there’s fresh milk, and I’ve taken the bins out. Who wants to return to a fridge full of suspicious-smelling food?
2. Don’t rush back to reality
Nothing’s guaranteed to kill your holiday glow faster than flipping open the office emails before your case is even off the carousel. While a quick scan through emails before hitting the office can help you mentally prepare and avoid that first-day shock to the system, ensure you give yourself a breather and definitely set yourself a sensible timeframe – maybe a quick half hour with a cup of tea and some airport Toblerone the evening before you return. Small steps!
3. Steer clear of social media
Comparing your life to those filtered snapshots others are posting online is never healthy, but can feel even harder to handle when you’re struggling to adjust post-holiday – particularly in the summer when half the world seems to be posting poolside selfies. During your first week back, try to limit or, even better, avoid social media. Why not use the time to print off your holiday snaps instead of posting them online, and place them around the house to create your own positive memories instead? Maybe meet up with friends in person to catch up on your adventures – it’ll feel much more rewarding than a like or two on your latest post.
4. Recreate the holiday spirit
This doesn’t mean building an artificial beach in your garden or fitting a swim-up bar to the bathtub. When I got back from a fortnight in Vietnam, I thought about what had made those two weeks panic attack-free for the first time in nearly a year. Anyone experiencing anxiety will have heard countless times “centre yourself in the now”, which is often easier said than done. But by not forcing it, I was able to be mindful of my new surroundings, absorbing the exotic smells, sounds and sights.
However, it’s harder to be mindful when you’ve got the same playlist on a loop. So, take some time to walk a different route to work and look up from your phone. On the weekend, hop on a train or pack up the car and seek somewhere new. Go for walks, get in touch with nature, or explore hidden winding streets. It all helps you see things with a fresh perspective, without the expensive return flights.
5. Get your next escape booked
Stats show we typically last just 37 days before we get our next break booked. And that’s not a bad thing. Of course, we can’t all afford to book a new exotic escape every six weeks, but it does help to have regular pause points booked in, where we can work towards space for ourselves when things feel overwhelming. It could be as simple as taking a long weekend to stay with friends in another part of the country, or going on a cooking or yoga weekend – something to allow you to step off the conveyor belt.
A holiday isn’t just about having a week in the sun; it’s time to nurture you. By building some of those good habits you naturally find yourself doing on holiday back into the everyday, you can stretch out the benefits long after your tan has faded.