Avoid Post Vacation Blues by Doing These 6 Things

If you are the kind of person who spends the first week back from vacation almost in tears, thinking about all the fun things you were doing "last week at this time," then you probably will relate to a British Psychological Society survey called, "Are Vacations Worth It?"

The answer for some of us? In a word: No. Thus far this summer, I have taken two vacations. One was to my family lake house for a week where the most taxing agenda-item was a trip to the local amusement park, gin and tonics after 5 p.m., and finishing all three books of the Hunger Games trilogy.

The second was a bit more taxing emotionally (a trip to see family), but was still a time away from all my responsibilities at home. And both times, coming home was awful.

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Both times I came home to litter boxes of horror, unpaid bills piled on the kitchen counter, rotten milk in the fridge, hundreds of emails in three inboxes, and a general feeling of malaise. I expected it all, but it still hits hard every time.

"Why can't every day be vacation?" I ask anyone who will listen. And it's people like me -- perfectionist, workaholic types -- who are the most prone to these issues. Professor Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University, says:

The problem is that we live at such a frenetic pace these days. Often, it’s only when we go on holiday that we realize just how much we are cramming into our everyday lives. While away, we unwind -- but then it’s harder to crank yourself back up again. The post-holiday blues are a very real phenomenon and it can take a long time to recover.

In 2005, I came back from a two-week trip to Alaska and was depressed for months afterward. While I was recovering (it was SUCH a great trip), I came up with the following pieces of advice for myself that I (usually) try to follow:

  • Always get the house cleaned the day before I come home: Coming home to a clean house is the best feeling in the world. Clean, fresh sheets and a sparkling floor cannot be stressed enough.
  • De-clutter and throw out all perishables before leaving: I forgot this last time and must reiterate: this is never a mistake. Coming home to spoiled milk will spoil a whole week of relaxation in five seconds flat!
  • Leave dog with trusted people: We have left the dog in a bad kennel before and always regretted it. Coming home to a happy dog feels so much better.  
  • Leave cat with good house-sitter: Lesson learned again this last time. Do not trust a friend to scoop the box. Throw some money at the problem and be poop-free upon your return.
  • Have house-sitter call about mail: If you're worried about bills piling up, have your house-sitter call each night and tell you where the mail came from. This way you know what you're dealing with when you return.
  • Check email while on the road: This avoids stress. Don't respond unless you have to, but not coming home to big shocks is worth the five minutes a day it takes to look over and hit delete.

These small tips make a big difference. I find when I don't do these things, I am much more miserable on my first day back. Keep one pinky toe in the real world and you won't be sorry.

How do you avoid post-vacation blues?

 

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