After spending so much time planning for a vacation and feeling excited to get away, you may find yourself feeling sad, irritable, or unmotivated as you near the end of your trip or return home. These feelings are not uncommon. Post-vacation depression often sets in as you anticipate going back to your routine and the stresses of daily life—a full email inbox, a backlog of tasks at work, a big test at school, household chores… the list goes on and on. If you tend to feel a sense of dread on the tail end of your vacations, here’s a look at some strategies that can help you enjoy your trip more and stress out less. After all, vacations are supposed to boost your mental health, not leave you feeling down.
Make the Most of Your Time Off
Some people find that they feel happier in the time leading up to a vacation than they do on the trip itself. The anticipation and excitement can overshadow the actual vacation. Focusing more on doing less during your trip can help.
- Avoid Overfilling Your Vacation Schedule – When you’re headed to a vacation destination, it’s only natural to want to do and see as much as possible. However, the instinct to fill every minute of your schedule with activities can leave you feeling stressed. Narrow down what’s most important to see and do on your trip and leave yourself with more time to sleep in and enjoy the sights.
- Take Lots of Photos – Documenting your trip will leave you with something to go back to later to remind you of the best moments of your vacation. Taking photos is a simple way to remember your vacation once it’s over and share memories with friends and family when you get back home. Of course, you won’t want to spend every moment on your phone snapping pictures. Remember to take moments for mindfulness to truly breathe in your surroundings and ground yourself in the present.
Plan for Your Post-Vacation Too
Whether you’re taking a long vacation or a short weekend getaway, it’s helpful to plan for your return home as part of your trip. Planning for your post-vacation can help you ease back into daily life so that the return home isn’t such a shock for your mental health.
- Clean Your House Before You Take Off – You may have a lot to do before you take off on your trip, but adding one extra task to your to-do list can make a huge difference once you are back home. Coming home to a clean house can help you relax and settle in without the added stress of needing to complete chores as soon as you get home.
- Schedule a Day to Decompress – When you plan for a vacation, it’s worth having a day back at home before you must jump back into your routine, especially if you’ve traveled a long way on your journey. Plan to return on a Saturday or take an extra day off at the end of your vacation so that you have some time to decompress at home and transition back to your regular obligations.
- Start Planning Your Next Trip – The end of a vacation can be particularly disheartening if you are out of PTO or don’t have the budget for another big trip in your future. However, it can be helpful to give yourself something to look forward to, even if it’s just a short weekend camping trip or a day trip with friends.
Reach Out for Help When Post-Vacation Depression Lingers
If you are struggling to adjust back into your routine after a vacation, know that talking to a therapist can help. Ongoing feelings of irritability, malaise, sadness, or anxiety can be triggered by the change in your routine that a vacation brings, but you do not need to live with these feelings.
Even when money is tight after a vacation, help is within reach with MeMD’s affordable virtual mental health services. Schedule an appointment today to see a therapist in as little as 24 hours.