It’s back to school time – how to banish the post-vacation blues

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Trust us, we’re not here to kill your buzz, but we all know what time of year it is, and most of us don’t like it.

The trees and forests already seem to have lost the fresh greenness of summer.

The first flocks of birds are heading south across the northern skies.

And the first ‘Back To School’ signs fill children and teachers with a chilling sense of dread.

Let’s face it, Fall is on the way and the summer vacation seems like a distant half-forgotten dream.

Watch out for the post-vacation blues

With Fall’s arrival looming just over the horizon, the post-vacation blues are a very real thing.

It seems like only yesterday that we were living the dream. On vacation, our days were carefree; we dipped our toes in cooling seas and lakes, we ate and drank too much, we did as we please, and for a time, we felt like the world was our playground.

For a few short weeks, we became the people we always imagined we could be. If only we didn’t have the kids, the mortgage, the car repayments, the exams, or the next big quarterly sales target to meet.

While wandering through the cobbled streets of some idyllic rural village in Italy, or sipping drinks at sunset in a beachside taverna, we’ve all said the same thing, “I could live here happily forever.”

Unfortunately, for most of us, that pipe dream just isn’t possible, and the return to reality slaps us like a wet fish in the face.

However, there are a few brave souls among us who just can’t, or won’t readjust.

Their lives have been altered in a way that’s far too difficult to ignore. For them, the return to ‘normality’ is just too much and they follow their dreams with arms wide open.

But for the rest of us mere mortals, what can we do to get through this troubling time?

Photo by Sergii Gulenok on Unsplash

How to learn from your vacation

During our ‘oh so brief’ affair with a carefree existence, we’ve probably encountered many new experiences.

We’ve heard new languages, maybe even tried them out to see how they feel on our tongue.

We’ve experienced new cultures and new environments. We’ve tasted new dishes in unforgettable new surroundings.

The people we’ve met have helped us to forge new opinions, and if we’re really lucky we’ve made new bonds and new friendships along the way.

In fact, we’ve grown in so many ways we could never even imagine. We’ve grown richer and we probably don’t even know it.

Whether in work, relationships, or our normal daily lives we try to learn from past experiences. We learn lessons that get us through similar experiences.

So, how do we learn from our vacation experiences, and how can these lessons carry us through?

Here’s what we’ve discovered:

  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Share the memories
  • Pay it forward
  • Think in advance
  • Give yourself the gift of time
  • Learn something new
  • Save as you’ve never saved before
  • There’s fun to be had at home too
  • Start planning your next adventure
  • Avoiding depression and getting on with life

Photo by Olimpo Ávila Salazar on Unsplash

Learn from your mistakes

Ask yourself — and answer honestly — what could you have done better while you were on vacation?

If you were a little healthier would you have been able to make the hike to the top of that hill everyone was wowing about? Or that cycle to the next village and the little secluded cove you heard about? Or spend more active time with the kids, instead of just being a distant spectator?

Perhaps your swimsuit was a little too tight? Could you afford to lose a couple of pounds in time for your next vacation?

As you watched the supple yoga lovers welcome the sunrise on the beach, were you a little jealous?

Did you want to try rock-climbing or wind-surfing but felt that belly bulge was a little too much?

But here’s the thing; maybe that was the kick you needed. Maybe you can start preparing for your next vacation now?

Not only is a little frequent exercise good for your health, but it could even make your next vacation a whole new experience.

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Share the memories

OK, nobody’s asking you to bore your family and friends half to death with a ton of out-of-focus holiday pics, but there are other ways to share your memories.

As a way of keeping the vacation alive, your memories can not only help you but can help others too.

Have you thought of writing a blog about your experiences? Or writing reviews for an online guide?

Maybe you could join a specialist travel group or social media platform where you’ll find others with similar experiences to share.

You can share your thoughts about food, culture, and language, and put your experiences to good use to help others.

And who knows, you might even get some great tips or friendly contacts for when you return next time.

Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

Pay it forward

Not all vacations are cocktails by the pool, or sunsets and beaches, some vacations touch our hearts deeply.

If you happened to experience some form of social injustice, poverty, lack of educational opportunities for kids, or anything else, maybe you can help.

Now that you’ve returned to your normal life, or gone back to school, you might be in a position to join an association like Amnesty International, Save the Children, or any other group dedicated to helping the less fortunate.

If charitable organizations are not for you, how about creating your own fundraising events to raise some badly-needed cash for that school or orphanage you saw?

It doesn’t even have to be a lot of money, just enough to buy some pens, pencils, or copybooks.

Or, just to raise awareness amongst others, why not write an article for your local newspaper — and use your photographs — to highlight the plights of others?

Plus, if you ever get to return to the same place, you’ll be able to witness your good work firsthand and meet the locals whose lives you’ve helped to shape.

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Think in advance

We might be getting a little ahead of ourselves here, but even before your vacation begins is a good time to smooth the wrinkles for your return.

Try to create and clear a checklist of both home and professional chores before leaving on vacation.

Whether that happens to be cleaning the house, painting the garage, or organizing a work task that’s been hanging over your head for the longest time, getting it out of the way will make your return even easier.

There’s nothing that can ruin a vacation quite like an outstanding task that keeps cropping up in your thoughts. Nagging you at every opportunity.

That’s why getting any outstanding task out of the way before you leave will make your return far less stressful.

Photo by Rui Silvestre on Unsplash

Give yourself the gift of time

How about this for a nightmare scenario?

You return from your vacation late on Sunday night and have to return to school or the office the very next morning.

Sure, it’s nice to extend your vacation up to the very last minute, but going straight from the sun lounger to the school desk is no walk in the park.

Give yourself enough time between arriving home and returning to your daily routine — whether that happens to be work, school, or anything else.

It’s usually enough to give yourself at least one full day, but the more time you can give yourself the easier the transition is going to be.

Also, nobody likes doing it, but some sound advice is to unpack your suitcase as soon as possible.

There is nothing worse than a full suitcase laughing at you from the corner of your room a week after you return home.

Finally, you could always use that extra time to do something you enjoy.

Go for a family meal (a great way to relive your vacation and start planning the next one), take a walk, go bowling, or pretty much anything that might take your mind off the return to normality.

Learn something new

Your vacation has shown you a way of life that you think might suit you. But, how do you make it happen?

For many people, a change of lifestyle begins with learning new skills.

It could be as simple as teaching English as a foreign language. There are many great schools out there waiting to help you make your lifestyle dreams come true.

Or, you might want to upgrade your career — or even work remotely — and get the skills to help you do it.

A growing number of online education providers offer online courses in Cyber Security, Project Management, Data Science, Cloud Computing, and much more, educational companies like Edureka can help you take your first steps on the ladder of change.

Or how about learning a new language, maybe just so that you can communicate better next time you return to your favorite vacation spot?

In fact, with the arrival of remote working from anywhere in the world, furthering your education and your opportunities has never been more in demand.

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Save as you’ve never saved before

Great vacations don’t usually pay for themselves, and the greater you want them to be the more expensive they’re likely to be.

That’s why from day one of your return, saving for your next super getaway should be a priority. And not just for you, if you have kids be sure to get them involved too.

Place a jar in a prominent place — you can even decorate it with a picture from your latest vacation, or your next destination — and pop a penny whenever you can.

You’ll be surprised how quickly it will start to fill.

The more it fills, the closer your reality will become.

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There’s fun to be had at home too

Hey, remember that wake park close to your home? The one you’ve been promising yourself you’d visit when you get the time?

Maybe post-vacation is the right time to do it.

Planning an adventure, a trip to the woods, a day out in the city, or any new experience will help take your mind off your recent holiday and give you some fun things to look forward to.

And, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Many parks, museums, galleries, and other activities are free for singles, couples, or whole families.

In fact, why not make it a day out for the whole family and create even more great memories for more people at the same time?

Just because it’s close to home, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Right?

Photo by Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash

Start planning your next adventure

The funny thing about vacations is that they’re more than just two weeks lying by a pool. In fact, they’re much more than that.

For most of us, a vacation represents the closest thing to real freedom that we’ll ever experience in our lives. A bit like a window to the sky in a prisoner’s cell.

When one vacation ends we can lose sight of that freedom.

This can cause a despair that we’ll never know true freedom again, and that’s where the dangers of depression can set in.

Even before the vacation finally ends we can already start showing symptoms of that depression.

That depression can be so intense that the last days of our vacation are completely ruined by the thought of the imminent return to routine.

But that’s when we can begin to counter the effects of post-holiday depression.

Even at this early stage we can start to plan the next trip. We can give ourselves a lifeline that will guide our way through any dark days that might lie ahead.

Having something — or even a lot of small somethings — to look forward to has long been proven to stave off the onset of depression.

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Avoiding depression and getting on with life

Of course, everyone is different and there is no hard and fast rule how to overcome the post-vacation blues.

For some people, getting immersed in work might be the silver bullet. For others, being physically active may prove to be the winner, but whatever it takes, post-vacation blues should be taken seriously.

Thankfully, the depressing feelings that come after an amazing adventure usually don’t hang around too long.

But, while you’re waiting for them to disappear give yourself all the help you can. Understand why you’re feeling that way, and give yourself the tools to deal with it — whatever they may be.

Exercise, stimulate your mind and your emotions, help others, give yourself something to look forward to, or just take some quality personal time.

But don’t forget, if you can’t shake off those post-vacation bad vibes, and your symptoms persist for longer than they should, maybe it’s time to see a specialist and get some real professional help.

In the meantime, you can start the healing process by planning your next great adventure or your next great getaway.

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