Beating the Post Vacation Blues

Post-holiday Depression


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Your long-awaited vacation was everything you could have hoped for – – great weather, relaxation, fun. But now its over, and your high spirits have taken a nose dive. If you had such a great time, why do you feel so bad?


Feeling blue after a vacation is not unusual, says Elaine Poncelet, LICSW, clinical therapist at The Providence Center. So common, in fact, that this phenomenon has been given a name all its own: The “Post-Vacation Blues.”

“On vacation, we usually get enough sleep, we take it as slow or as fast as we want, and typically do things that we enjoy,” explains Poncelet. “But when we arrive home, we suddenly have to switch gears and again take on the responsibilities of work, family and home.”

Going back to work can sometimes be a tough transition. This is primarily because the workplace is the antithesis of a vacation. Whereas vacations are generally free-flowing and relatively stress-free, the workplace is a structured environment where people are expecting us to do certain things within certain time frames.

“On vacation, we escape from our daily rituals, and take a break from our busy lifestyles,” says Poncelet. “Upon return, we surrender this flexibility and a great deal of control to the demands of every day life.”

While feeling let down after vacation is not uncommon, it can be minimized. Whether you spend your vacation on an exotic island or lounging by the backyard pool, Poncelet offers some tips for fending off those pesky post-vacation blues:

  • Remember to relax – Choose vacation activities that will make you feel refreshed and renewed, not exhaust you. Beating the blues will be twice as difficult if your vacation wiped you out.
  • Be creative with your vacation time – Rather than take a two-week vacation, take several long weekends and plan interesting activities. This way you’ll always have something to look forward to.
  • Schedule transition time – Try returning home on a Friday, so you have a couple of days to prepare for the work week; it can help easy the transition to your duties.
  • Use your vacation as a catalyst for change – If you dread the thought of returning to work, make the decision to go back refreshed and ready to make some productive changes, such as improving your delegating skills, practicing better time management or organizing your workplace.
  • Plan to do something fun after your trip – Go out to dinner with friends or take the kids to the zoo. Rather than dreading going home, you’ll have a pleasant activity to anticipate.
  • Accentuate the positive – Upon returning to the challenges of daily living go over your photos and souvenirs to relive enjoyable moments from your trip. You may also find it helpful to remind yourself of the things you like most about your life and environment including your community and friends as well as the comforts and securities of home.

If it seems like your post-vacation blues are lingering a bit too long, consider contacting
professional help, experts in depression and mood disorders.

Erica Donnelly works at The Providence Center, Rhode Island’s largest community-based, outpatient behavioral health organization, annually serves over 8,000 adults, children, and adolescents who struggle with mental illness, addiction and emotional problems. Since its establishment in 1969, The Providence Center has been part of Rhode Island’s exemplary behavioral health care system, offering a comprehensive array of treatment and rehabilitation services.

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