It's the start of a new year, but the end of the festive season break is looming and the thought of going back to work might be making you feel a little gloomy.
Whether you’ll be working from home or heading to the office, getting back into the swing of things after a vacay – even a short one – can be hard.
You’re not alone. The slump that comes after a holiday is over even has a name – it’s called post-holiday blues.
Travel to a far-flung destination is very likely to be followed by a feeling of emptiness once you’ve returned to your normal routine. “Travelling makes you feel amazing; almost like a drug,” says Netherlands-based globetrotter travel writer Manouk on bunchofbackpackers.com.
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“You experience new things. You push your boundaries. You see and learn. You open your heart to new people and cultures.”
She’s familiar with the “dramatic post-holiday dip” after returning home from an amazing break and adds that “the positive effects of a holiday only last for so long”.
But the post-holiday blues can hit even if you haven’t been on an exotic trip and have simply had a staycation relaxing with loved ones and friends. The good news is there are things you can do to make that blissful feeling last.
Find small ways to bottle up that magical feeling, says travel blogger Keri on ladieswhattravel.com. “A number of studies have been carried out to look into this feeling. And they all say the same thing – those who can prolong the holiday vibe are those that derive the most pleasure out of life itself.”
Here are five ways to hold on to that holiday feeling once you’re back to the 9-to-5.
1 Stay in touch with nature
One of the best ways to get back into that relaxed feeling is to spend time outdoors. And when you do, it’s important to be present in the moment and really take it in – feel the sun on your skin and enjoy the fresh air.
It doesn’t have to be a major outing. Here are some easy ways to enjoy being in nature:
- Enjoy lunch in your garden, on your balcony or at a nearby park once a week. Try not to check your phone no matter how tempting!
- Take time to sit outside and read that book you bought during the holidays or received as a gift.
- Sit outside in silence for a little while every day and just appreciate the sounds of nature. Make a note of what you heard and how you felt about it in a journal or diary – over time you’ll see how lovely it will start to feel.
- If you live in a coastal town or city, head out for a beach walk regularly and enjoy the soothing sound of the waves, the sensation of sand between your toes and the fresh sea breeze on your face.
2 Recreate the feeling
Holidays are about having fun and feeling carefree and relaxed. So keep doing the things that you did during your time off, even if it’s in smaller doses. Also, remember it’s not only this past holiday you have to draw on to stretch out that carefree vibe – you have a bank of memories from previous holidays, so use them too.
- If you had a holiday playlist, keep playing it. And if you didn’t, put one together now – create a collection of your favourite holiday tunes
- Pick one night a week to rewatch some of your favourite shows, whether it’s a Christmas movie or a series you enjoyed.
- Make a list of beach reads just as you would when getting ready for holiday – then read them.
- Create a scrapbook of your favourite holidays. It can be an actual scrapbook or you can put together a photobook online that you can get printed. Turn it into a mini project over a couple of weeks and whenever you’re spending time on it you’ll be transported back to those happy times.
3 Prepare meals from some of your favourite destinations – or ones from a place you’d like to visit
Do research about the dishes that are famous in the region/city/country you want to visit and see which ones you’d like to make. See if you can match it with a drink from the region, for example paella and sangria from Spain.
- Go to YouTube or Instagram and search for food bloggers who create the kind of meals you like and plan a weekly dish.
- When it’s safe, invite a friend or two over and ask them to dress as if you were going to a restaurant in your favourite city. Make a playlist of music that would’ve been played in a restaurant there to create that magical feeling of being away from home.
- Don’t be shy to have a bottle of bubbly with your meal – simply because you can.
4 Plan your next holiday – or a few mini breaks
Sometimes the anticipation of a holiday feels almost as good as the break itself. It doesn’t even have to be a long one – a shorter getaway every two to three months might even be better for you in terms of stress management. It also means you won’t have too long to wait before your next break.
Start checking out places close by for a quick getaway or a long weekend. Put feelers out on social media about great local places to visit. And if you’re planning a longer holiday towards the end of the year, start creating an itinerary of all the things you’d love to do.
5 Use your weekends well
If your weekday routine is demanding, or work means you’re glued to your computer screen for hours at a time, make sure you take a break from it on weekends by doing something different. Imagine you’re a tourist in your town or city and make a list of the things you’d want to do. Outdoor activities such as sightseeing and hikes would be ideal. Also, look out for specials that are aimed at getting locals through the door.
6 Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed
To-do lists, deadlines, projects, meetings . . . Work often means pressure and all the demands can snap you out of that holiday feeling quicker than a cork out of a bottle of bubbly. But you can choose not to let it overwhelm you. It’s all about managing your time and your tasks.
- Don’t jump right into work without some planning. Get a diary or desk calendar and get into the habit of planning each day/week/month.
- List your daily tasks, tackle them one at a time and tick them off as you go. Use an app or a paper diary to remind you of what’s on your list.
- Switch off from work every day – don’t look at work emails or allow notifications to come through on your phone once the workday ends (more and more email accounts now allow you to disable notifications for a certain period so check your account’s settings).
- Set an alarm for the day to end – say 5pm – and make it the loudest and most annoying it can be. When it goes off, resist the temptation to do “just one more” thing and shut down your computer immediately to signal to yourself and to others that your personal time starts now.
SOURCES: THEGUARDIAN.COM, BUNCHOFBACKPACKERS.COM, LADIESWHATTRAVEL.COM, BUBHUB.COM.AU, YESANDYES.ORG, BUDGETAIR.COM, PSYCOM.NET