And just like that, summer’s over (although we may feel like we missed it altogether with this weather). So if you’re weeping whilst packing up the BBQ, feeling sad about sending your kids back to school or just desperately scouring Airbnb for October getaways, you may have a case of the post-holiday blues. The irony is that we often see holidays as a chance to escape our blues and hope (or even expect) to come back from holidays feeling refreshed and ready to take on life’s challenges. So how can we explain our lingering post-holiday sadness? And what can we do to stop the blues from seeping out into our daily lives?
Why do we feel so blue after our holidays?
Often in the lead up to going away, we’re busy. Busy looking up things to do when we arrive, planning our route, checking the weather, buying holiday essentials (but why do we always forget suncream?) and of course, packing. On holiday, we’re likely to spend a lot of time being social- either deepening existing relationships or forging new ones. Then all of a sudden, you’re back at home, unpacking and the holiday that you spent weeks planning and anticipating has passed. The sense of excitement, the activity-filled days and the greater connection are gone and a feeling of loss creeps into the void. That feeling of loss might also trigger older feelings of loss; times when we felt lonely or aimless. Many of us also use holidays to distract ourselves from stressors or low moods in our daily lives, so once the holiday’s all done, there’s nothing to divert our attention away from these more persistent uncomfortable feelings.
How do we wash away those blues?
Whilst it’s normal to feel a little deflated when the highly anticipated holiday you’ve been looking forward to passes, you don’t have to sit with lingering feelings of sadness, loneliness or loss- they can be worked through! You can start by trying to:
Connect - with people and no, not just via Instagram. Given the sociability of holiday-time we can often feel a little lonely afterwards, now that we’re not BBQing with our mates every evening, or sipping cocktails with our significant others. Whilst it’s unlikely you can fit in quite as much socialising time as you do on holiday, thanks to that inconvenient thing called work, you can still make time to embed social sessions into your daily life: Turn your evening walk into a chance to catch up with a friend, or make sure to set up midweek moments for friendship time.
Try a change of scenery - surely that’s what the holiday was for? And yes, didn’t it feel good?! It can feel a little stifling coming back to your home after the stimulation of being in a new environment, meeting new people and trying different activities. Coming home, shouldn’t have to mean putting that experimental holiday mindset back into a box - you can still try new recipes, try out different parks in your neighbourhood, or a new route to work (or method of getting there - rollerskates anyone?). It’s not just the change of scenery that makes holidays so fun, often it’s the changes in ourselves that make us feel so good. Try bringing that holiday mindset home with you!
Reflect - Whilst holidays can give us a much-needed break from the everyday humdrum, they can also cast a stark light on what we’d like to change about our lives and mean we may have to confront some uncomfortable truths: If work is really making you so miserable, perhaps it’s time to look for a new job? Was it a relief to spend time away from a demanding friend or partner? Then perhaps a conversation with them is in order. Time away from our day-to-day can offer us a fresh perspective on what it was we felt we needed a ‘break’ from in the first place and help us see more clearly the changes we need to make.
We know getting back to life after a holiday can be a bit discombobulating at best, but rest assured there are things you can do to stop the blues in their tracks and start enjoying your life in there here and now.