Lesson #98: How to Cure the Post-Vacation Blues

by Rachel on August 16, 2011

I’m sad the week after a vacation. I’m so original, I know.

The thing is, even though this is a pretty cliché problem, I feel like this is the first time I’ve actively tried to combat it. I didn’t eliminate the blues completely, but I think the little bit of effort I put into my Sunday actually really helped me feel better about the whole “You’re back to real life now, sucker!” situation.

If your last vacation of the summer is approaching, here is how you can bounce back quickly right after you return!

1. Find something to look forward to. Well, duh, right? But the trick is finding something immediate to look forward to. Having something two weeks in the future might be enough if it’s something really cool, but If you don’t have anything good going on in the next week, then create something! Before you even leave, schedule a happy hour with a friend for that first Monday back or decide you’re going to start a new workout class that day.

2. Give yourself time to prepare for the week ahead. If your flight is coming in late on Sunday night, you’re going to feel rushed as you get home from the airport, drop your suitcase in the foyer, take one look in the fridge and roll your eyes at your lack of groceries, and pass out without unpacking or removing your make-up. Because that is really going to leave you feeling good on Monday morning. Instead, when planning your trip, give yourself enough time to have a mini “get back to normal” session once you return home. Spending a little time unpacking, doing a load of laundry, and sorting your mail will make you feel a lot better during the coming week.

3. Go directly to the grocery store. Do not pass “Go.” This is similar to #2, but I’ve found that it’s not enough to plan you’re going to get organized when you get back. You really want the bulk of your errands done before you’ve even gotten back to your place. Eric and I have done this after our last two vacations and it’s made a huge difference. We may not feel like it but it’s good to know that once we do get home, we can just be done for the night, and we don’t have to muster up the energy to go back out.

4. Do something you enjoy doing at home. Traveling is awesome, but I’m sure there are things you missed while you were gone, right? Try to do one of those things that first night. Go for a run in your neighborhood or just lay on your own pillow. It will help you appreciate being back.

5. Tell someone about your trip. Coming home can be extra sad if you had to say good-byes at the end, but part of the fun about a trip is telling other people how much fun you had! Call your mom, upload your pics to Facebook, hop on G-chat…do whatever you need to do to share the highlights of your trip with someone else. Looking at your pictures and talking about it will force you to feel happy you went, not sad it’s over.

I felt like after returning from the Ozarks on Sunday night, doing all of these things really helped. I spent the plane ride choosing new meals to make in the upcoming week and I planned to start yoga the first Monday I was back (#1). Once we collected our bags, we headed directly to the grocery store and to Petsmart to pick up the puppies (#2 & #3). Then I got home and I spent a ton of time cooking a huge feast while Eric hung out with the pups (#4). Then I uploaded my pictures and the next day I wrote a blog post about it (#5). I can’t say I’m not a little sad, but I definitely didn’t have a ton of  time to feel sorry for myself because I was so busy in the kitchen and so happy to see the pups!

Meanwhile, the pups had some post-vacation blues of their own. This was our first time boarding them, so we didn’t know what to expect. Let me just say that I have never seen two sleepier dogs! Chuck was practically falling asleep as we walked him out of Petsmart. They got home and immediately curled up and wouldn’t budge for hours.

If we moved them slightly or took them outside, they’d come back in and immediately go right back to sleep. It was a little disturbing actually.

According to the Petsmart web site, this is pretty normal, but I think we were torn between feeling bad that they were so exhausted and lethargic and feeling relieved that we were having such a relaxing first night after vacation. But they were pretty mellow yesterday and today too, and I’m kinda getting used to it. I think those two need to go on vacation more often.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dori August 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm

The pics of the puppies sleeping on Eric are so sweet and adorable! I love your little boypups so much. I am glad they had a great time on their vacation!

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2 Elina (Healthy and Sane) August 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

My husband and I try to stay as late as we can at our vacation destination to soak up the last few hours so we usually get home late. But I found that I HAVE TO go to the grocery store the very next night! It’s key to really make myself go stock up on produce asap. Otherwise I just end up snacking for days when I’m really craving a healthy homemade meal.

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3 Lauren Roady @ Recipes for a Quarterlife August 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm

A tired dog is a good dog! It’s a lot harder to eat shoes when you’re asleep…

My Australian Cattle Dog goes to daycare occasionally for this exact reason! She has a WONDERFUL time and I get a day or two off from doggy entertainment!

Welcome back to the real world! :)

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4 Diane August 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

For me, it’s taking the day off BEFORE the trip that really helps! My boss always does this, and I can’t believe how effective it was for me. (This sounds like an infomercial, lol.) I was in a wedding in Michigan last May, and I would’ve had a complete meltdown without that extra day to clean, do laundry, get a pedicure, buy snacks, etc. I’ll trade going back immediately after my vacation for that day of organization beforehand.

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5 Emma August 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Dude. I wrote the same post today! I mean, not identical and we have different styles, but yeah, identical topic. I can, however, safely say I’m not a SeaWitch, bc I published before you. I did have the idea from one of your posts… But I also linked back to it! I’m safe. Right? I’m safe.

Great post! I liked your tips. And I hear you about the pupsters! Beau used to be *so* exhausted when we would get home from vacation. I liked myself he loved all the attention and was just so busy soaking it all up! ;)

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6 Rachel August 17, 2011 at 8:44 am

Awww, Emma, I love you! And I loved your post! You’re no sea witch and I love how our ideas often overlap (hello, your post about Dan Savage!)…maybe we need to do a girlfriend discussion of the week sometime!

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7 Emma August 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Awww, you’re so sweet! I’m so glad to see I’m free to release my sea witch fears – I forgot to check back after I posted that comment, and have been worried for days. (Okay, maybe not days, but it did pop into my head once or twice!) And, if the opportunity ever arose, I would be honored!

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8 Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) August 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I wish I had your problem of post vacation blues :D
What vacation?! Grrr.

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9 cassie August 16, 2011 at 8:23 pm

just got back from vacation yesterday and today was my first day back at work.. it was super depressing.. thanks for this post.. post vacation blues are rough and i am going to give my self this week to sulk and bask in my vacation

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10 Kiah August 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm

My puppies do the same thing! It’s actually a nice segue back into “the real world.”

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11 Liz August 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Vacation? What’s that? I haven’t had a vacation in 4 years.

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12 Mary @ stylefyles August 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm

hahah I toootally did the opposite of #2. I just took a 5 day vacation to Santa Fe and planned it so my flight got in at 9 a.m. Monday morning….to an airport 10 minutes from work, when I start work at 9:30. What it all meant was that I had to wake up Monday morning at 3 a.m. Santa Fe time (2 a.m. LA time) to start traveling. I thought I’d be tired at work today, but turns out I was fine. The pile of work I had in front of me kept me going. The ONLY part of the plan that backfired is that a work emergency came up and I’m now basically stuck on the phone waiting out a conf. call……..I haven’t been home yet, and all my luggage is still in the trunk of my car.

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13 Lisa August 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm

This is very, very good advice! I have definitely been yearning for vacation again all (two days of this) week. Will have to put some of these into practice. Thanks. :)

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14 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. August 17, 2011 at 9:26 am

#5 is my favorite. It’s nice to come back to work and talk about the trip and upload photos. :)

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15 Suzanne August 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

I know there may be naysayers, but I keep up on work email while I’m on vacation. The easy stuff I answer immediately. The other stuff, I flag for follow-up when I get back. There is FAR less dread going back on Monday if I carve a few minutes a day on vacation to keep my inbox clean than there would be coming back to an overflowing inbox. I highly recommend it.

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16 Rachel August 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm

That’s true, the dread is the worst part!

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17 Katie @ peacebeme August 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm

These are all great tips! I get the post-vacation blues so bad, really throws me off. I am going to remember all this next time!

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