The first day after a holiday can be rough. You felt like a new you while you were away – you were calm, relaxed, and read a ton of books.
Now, you’re back to reality – with too many emails to open, a tan that’s fading fast, and somehow you feel well and truly exhausted already. The post-holiday blues are setting in.
If only it was possible to bring your holiday positivity back to the real world with you. We asked psychologists how they think we can hold on to those holiday vibes for longer…
What makes holidays so good?
A good starting point is to think about why we might feel brighter on holiday in the first place.
“Holidays can give us a much-needed break from the monotony of everyday life. They also allow us to recharge and reconnect to ourselves,” says Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic (thechelseapsychologyclinic.com). “Without taking breaks, the balance between responsibilities (the things we have to do), and the things we do simply for our wellbeing and to have fun, can fall out of balance.”
Next we can think about how this compares to our ‘regular’ lives. Of course, sipping cocktails by a pool every day is never going to be realistic, but are there small adjustments you could make?
“Finding balance in your day-to-day is vital to maintaining mental health and wellbeing. Taking time to pause for a while to reflect, even if just for a few minutes, can boost productivity and help you to regain clarity,” says Niels Eék, psychologist and co-founder of mental wellbeing app, Remente (remente.com).
Take daily mini-breaks
For Eék, balance and relaxation means building opportunities into daily life.
“Take a little time each day to relax. With hundreds of tried and tested relaxation techniques available, there are guaranteed to be a few that will work well for you, regardless of your location or the reason behind the stress,” he says. “It definitely takes time to find a technique that works for you, but you can experiment with techniques like meditation or breathing exercises.
“If you start feeling anxious the minute you sit still, you might be addicted to productivity, the downside of which is that it can lead to burnout. The best thing to do is to find some silence, slowly exposing yourself to longer periods of calm inactivity,” Eék, adds. “You can start with a few minutes, slowly building to half an hour and longer. Exposure therapy is a great way of dealing with feelings of restlessness and anxiety.”
Bring holiday habits home
Touroni suggests taking some time to “identify what it was about the holiday that was nourishing and left you feeling so good.”
Maybe it was getting outside more, doing yoga every morning, or a new sport you tried while away. Perhaps it was just taking time to cook and enjoy more meaningful mealtimes.
“Try to incorporate more of that into your everyday life,” she says. “Was it the time you got to properly unwind, for example? Is there any way you can create more of this back home? Most holidays involve more time spent outdoors. If you live in a city, you may lack this in your day-to-day life. Try getting out and about at least once a day – even if it’s just a cycle or walk around your local park.”
Plan things to look forward to
For many of us, ‘proper’ holidays only roll around once or twice a year – if we’re lucky. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have things to look forward to the rest of the time too.
“Having things to look forward to is a psychological strategy we sometimes use in therapy,” says Touroni. “When we’re working hard, knowing we have something to look forward to at the end of it can help us push through, as it provides us with a kind of psychological reward.
“Take more mini breaks – holidays don’t always have to mean blocking off a big chunk of time. Try booking some weekends away, so you have things to look forward to throughout the year,” Touroni suggests. It could even be days out or a short activity – get dates in the diary for things you love and make plans with friends.
Enjoy the culture your hometown has to offer
We all tend to explore more when we’re away, which can broaden our horizons and help us find new interests. Why not do the same back home?
“Soak in the culture at home – being abroad can make it easier to step into a mindset of curiosity. Try bringing this back home with you by visiting galleries and museums,” says Touroni.