Summertime is here and with it the vacation season officially begins. As much as I love spending my time off on active and exploratory vacations, I made an observation years ago that once I return from one of those getaways, I almost need another one right away to recuperate. And it’s not only about your body needing to readjust after the jet lag or changing time zones.
The phenomenon of post vacation blues or post travel depression is about low productivity you experience in everything you do immediately following your vacation. It’s associated with having lessened interest in your normal surroundings, experiencing difficulty adjusting to your routine of work, home, school, commute, etc. I used to be hard on myself for not diving into all of my normal responsibilities with the same if not renewed enthusiasm on the Monday after the time off. After all, I rightfully thought, vacations are our much deserved break from the familiarity of life and they are meant to prevent burnout and to refresh our energy sources. Then I learned I am not alone.
It is natural to go through the period of post vacation blues, so we have to give ourselves a little time to readjust. We shouldn’t worry about the low productivity during this time or be too harsh on ourselves. No need to force yourself into your routine. Just think about how fortunate you are to have had the opportunity to get away, to widen your horizons and to enrich yourself through your travel experiences.
What I find helpful for successful transitions is building a strong support system at work. To prevent an overwhelming backlog from piling on your desk awaiting your return – do your homework upfront and delegate certain duties to capable people around you. I usually split the responsibilities among a few who can perfectly take care of their share in my absence. Upon your return, have the trusted people bring you up to speed on the latest developments and where things were left off. Prioritize all of the issues that came up in your absence and plan to deal with them in the order of their urgency. That way, you don’t really need to have a vacation after a vacation and instead can shift smoothly back into your reality.
Having said that, if you notice that your post-vacation depression doesn’t go away within a reasonable number of days and you find yourself truly unhappy with your surroundings, it’s possible that your time off has given you a chance to self-reflect and see what had been building up under the surface. If what you do or how you live your life makes you truly miserable, it might be time for change. But that’s a different topic altogether.