I've just returned home from a renewing week in Mexico and as per usual when returning from vacation, am wishing in some way that I could still be sitting on a beach staring at the waves and sipping a piña colada. Instead, I'm back in reality dealing with a post-vacation hangover.
As someone that suffers from depression, I always find myself struggling a bit more than usual when returning home from big trips. Perhaps it is linked to my depression, that I am easily prone to a vacation hangover, but I know that post-vacation mood slumps are universal. It's something people tend to ignore while glorifying all that is to be glorified about travel, adventure, and vacation. So I wanted to share my tips on how to get over a vacation hangover that help me.
The first time I experienced a vacation hangover it was pretty dang extreme. I'd just finished studying abroad in Florence, Italy for ten weeks and to call it a vacation hangover is actually probably an understatement as it threw me into a depression that lasted six months. A less extreme reaction to a trip was when I went to Mexico for the first time and found myself without energy or even the will to shower after returning home, parked in front of the television zoning out. What was it? Why was I so unenergized after such an amazing and magical experience?
But because I love to travel so much, and have chosen to work in a field that provides flexible vacation time in support of a work-life balance, I've found many ways to cope and deal with an after vacation hangover since it is a real part of one of my favorite activities.
5 Ways to Deal with a Post-Vacation Hangover
- Clean House Before You Go: There really is nothing like coming home to a clean house. One of the biggest symptoms of a vacation hangover is a lack of energy or motivation. I am always so stoked and full of energy before I go away on a trip, so harnessing that to make your life easier when you get home is the way to go. Wash your sheets, empty your fridge, clean off all surfaces, vacuum, mop and have everything in its place. Imagine you're having a guest over, but in reality, post-vacation you is the guest.
- Wash Your Vacation Away: Maybe this is just me, but when my mood slumps so does my hygiene. Even if that's not you, this is still a great tip! Once you're home, take a shower or draw a bath, and use the fancy bath products that you didn't drag along with you to soothe your soul a bit. If you're feeling up to it, do a load of laundry. Unpack. But know that laundry and unpacking can actually wait a few days if need be, since you prepped your house before leaving by having all of your chores done, meaning there's no rush to do more chores. Need a bit of middle ground? Take a shower, unpack your suitcase, and put all of the dirty clothes in your (hopefully empty!) hamper to do later in the week.
- Don't Skip Your Routines: It can be tempting to skip your Sunday yoga class, your morning run, or your weekly community meet up, but trust me on this, skipping what you normally make time for in real life will make it harder to get back into the swing of things. You do the things in your routine because you enjoy them, so even if you aren't in the mood after you've finished the activity you'll be happy you didn't skip whatever it was that you didn't want to do.
- Get to Bed: Along with an extreme lack of energy and motivation when I return from vacation I also tend to have trouble getting myself into bed. I'll distract myself with things that aren't helpful (ie any type of screen) and before you know it it's 2 am and getting up is going to be even harder than it was already going to be. Do what you can to get into bed, because sleep will not only help you recover from all of the vacation activity, but it will help you reset and restore you in a way that only sleeping in your own bed can.
- Reflect on the Good: While all of the above is meant to ease you back into real life, you don't want to forget all the good vibes and inspiration that you got from your vacation in the first place. Instead of wallowing in apathy or diving right back into the daily grind take at least 10 minutes to really sit down and reflect on your vacation. Go through your camera roll, create a Facebook album of images, order some prints, read journal entries or write a journal entry of your favorite meals, outings, or experiences.
It's easy to forget that travel and adventure don't only consist of good times. There are stressful and frustrating parts to getting outside of your life and that includes returning to your every day normal. But that doesn't mean it has to ruin your vacation vibes or bench you from your life after you get back. I hope these tips will help you with dealing with a post-vacation hangover and help you enjoy your next vacation just a bit more.