How to avoid the post holiday blues

We all love a break from the daily grind. Whether it’s a six-week European tour, a road trip across the United States, or an island escape, there’s nothing more exciting than the anticipation of an exotic holiday or a well-deserved trip. But as the sun-kissed tan starts to fade, and the holiday is well and truly over, it can be especially hard to ease back into everyday life.

In a 2010 study involving more than 1,500 Dutch travellers, researchers found that vacationers are happier while on holiday (a given) but most are not happier afterwards. This finding is in contrast to the common assumption that travelling is good for us, relieves our stress, and makes us happier beings overall.

According to the study, the length of a holiday doesn’t seem to affect this outcome, either.

“It is not surprising that a holiday trip does not have a prolonged effect on happiness, since most vacationers have to return to work or other daily tasks and consequently fall back into their normal routine fairly quickly,” the authors say.

But could there be another reason why so many of us don’t feel happier, or even sated, after a holiday? Does the experience count for nothing?

Anthony Bianco, a popular Brisbane-based travel blogger at The Travel Tart, says he experiences post-travel blues every time he returns from an overseas trip.

“I’ve never experienced ‘culture shock’ when going somewhere new, but I always experience ‘reverse culture shock’,” he says.

“When I come back home, I've seen it all before and I'm grumpy for days,” he adds.

The concept of ‘reverse culture shock’ was introduced in the 1960s and refers to the difficulty one experiences when re-adapting to life back home, for example after a six month stint abroad. You may find that, now that you’re back home, you’re more irritable or frustrated at every day activities, which in comparison to your wide-eyed travels seem even more mundane.

Ultimately, whether you’re returning home from a long weekend escape, or an epic travel adventure, it’s important to take care of yourself. Try these tips to help cope with post-travel or holiday blues.

Document your holiday
Keep a travel diary, print out your favourite photos, make an album, or dedicate a blog to chronicle your adventures. Not only will this be a nice reminder, but also a way to keep family and friends interested in all your travel stories for longer. Or take a leaf out of Helen Carver’s book, literally. She’s the thrill-seeking Brit who, at the age of 50, quit her job, rented out her home and packed up her life for a whirlwind adventure with her 19 year old daughter. She wrote all about it in her humorous travel book, and then went on to start a blog about life after 50.

Plan a stay-cation
You could be tempted to book another holiday overseas or interstate, but why not plan an adventure in your hometown. You don’t have to leave the country to escape the ordinary. Try new activities that can be incorporated into your every day routine for a happier outlook on post-holiday life.

Recognise the symptoms of anxiety or stress
Even if you had a great time away, if you were stressed or anxious before your holiday, these feelings may re-emerge upon your return. Some common symptoms of anxiety include hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, snowballing worries, and obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour. Symptoms can vary from person to person, according to Beyond Blue, but the important thing is to seek treatment to control the anxiety before it controls you. To better understand anxiety, a good place to start is the Beyond Blue website.

How do you combat the holiday blues? Leave a comment below.