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Post-Vacation Blues - 5 Ways To Avoid Productivity Loss

10 min read
Last Updated on 29 November, 2023

Do you get that sinking feeling as soon as you reach home or work after a vacation? Have you experienced that empty feeling like something great has ended? Be it a vacation of a lifetime or just a weekend away, vacations are always better than ground reality.

And stepping out of your holiday and returning to work can be pretty challenging. The transition from fun to work in a few days can affect your mental health more than you know. Post-vacation blues are completely real, and feeling depressed or sad returning to the saddle is nothing weird but pretty common.

Overall, vacations or holidays are good for your mental health, but as soon as you unpack that suitcase, there is a persistent feeling of sadness. Experiencing post-vacation depression is a real and very common phenomenon.

This article will help you better understand the same and discuss how to stop it from affecting productivity.

What Is Vacation Blues?


A vacation is considered the best way to rejuvenate and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It reduces stress levels and increases self-awareness, which improves mental health.

Although vacation is supposed to be a time to decompress and recharge, sometimes the end of a vacation can be depressing. Vacation blues refer to this period of sulking and anxiety.

After a relaxing weekend, your body will adjust to the quick transition from relaxation to the normal hectic schedule, similar to experiencing Monday morning anxiety.

By definition, vacation blues is the common feeling of sadness or melancholy that you might experience after returning home from a trip. It is a kind of emotional letdown that occurs when the routine and responsibilities of your daily life replace your excitement and anticipation of the trip.

The feelings of vacation blues are mostly temporary and typically subside when you adjust to your daily routine. If you have a medical history of undiagnosed depression or another mental health condition, it may last longer for you.

According to research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, the ideal vacation length is eight days. An eight-day trip gives travelers enough time to unpack, get their bearings, and settle into a new, more relaxed routine.

What Is Post-Vacation Syndrome?


Holiday or post-vacation blues is a slump caused by intense emotions and stress after a vacation. While post-holiday syndrome shares some of the same traits and characteristics as generalized anxiety and depression, it is shorter-lived and easier to manage.

But unlike clinical depression or anxiety, little attention is given to post-vacation syndrome. However, almost 64% of the population suffers from it, according to a recent study by the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness find that the holidays make their condition "a lot" worse and 40% "somewhat" worse."

Symptoms Of Post-Vacation Depression


It is common to find yourself struggling back at work or to adjust to day-to-day life chores when you return from a vacation. It can get overwhelming if you have used up your time off from work and don't have any further plans to look forward to. Feeling jet lag post-travel can affect both your physical and mental health.

“Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life – Maya Mendoza.”

It is common for you to experience an overall grieving period once your vacation ends. Post holidays blues can show in different ways and can vary from one person to another, but here are a few common symptoms that you might experience after a vacation -

  • Stress

  • Anxiety

  • Fatigue

  • Sadness

  • Irritability

  • Low-energy

  • Insomnia

  • Difficulty in concentrating

  • Lack of motivation

  • Mood swings

Suggested Read : 7 Ways You Can Help Employees Deal With Work Anxiety

How Can They Affect Your Productivity At Work?


While post-holiday blues are not a clinical term, the feeling of fun over and returning to a monotonous routine can lead to depression. Due to the lack of good things to look forward to, you might not feel as good as you anticipated.

Although there are many reasons why you experience holiday blues and why it can affect your productivity at work, it is important to remember that the symptoms of holiday blues can make it quite harder for you to be productive and remain motivated at work.

“Travel not to escape life but so life doesn’t escape you .”

And it goes for both onsite and off-site-site employees. Whether you're working from home or the office, having to start being productive again can be berating and further worsen the symptoms.

The following factors may affect your work productivity:

1. Lack Of Work-Life Balance


If you don't have a healthy work-life balance, it might be one of the major reasons you might experience post-vacation blues more than others. You can find the transition from vacation to work challenging if you do not balance work and personal life properly.

It can get exhausting, and the mere thought of completing your task at work can be overwhelming, causing more stress and eventually leading you to procrastinate.

Suggested Read : 7 Effective Ways to Prevent Work From Home Burnout

2. Sudden Change

The drastic transition can take a toll on your mental health as well as on your productivity skills. After spending a week more or less relaxing and not having to think about work or responsibilities, the feeling can be dreadful when you have to return to work.

Returning to your regular mundane routine after the sudden change can be overwhelming, leaving you feeling empty. Your regular life or job can start to feel monotonous and boring. Due to this, you might lack motivation at work or even be unaware of what's happening around you.

Suggested Read: 5 Tips For Dealing With Anxiety About Going To Work Every Day

3. Financial Stress


Financial stress is a key factor contributing to your post-vacation blues. When you go on a trip, spending more than your budget is only natural, which can later add to your financial stress.

Even if you have saved up for your trip, there is a slight chance that you might feel guilty for spending rather than saving up.

Again returning to the realities of paying back bills and rent can amplify the feeling of anxiety and stress at work. And when you are already piled on with so much stress, you are hardly left with any mental space to focus on your work.

A recent long-term study found that workplace policies that allow 10 days of paid vacation leave were associated with a 29 percent drop in depression risk among women.

4. Lack Of Control

After your vacation ends, you no longer have the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want. You lose control over your life when you hit reality and return to the base ground.

The feeling of being powerless over your own life or being controlled by a higher authority can make you angry and exhausted.

As you return to your routine, you may find it difficult to adjust physically and emotionally as you may have felt like your vacation was too short.

In addition to feeling anxious or sad, you might experience emotional exhaustion and become disconnected from work.

While it is not always possible to plan another vacation right after your return, trying to find strategies or coping mechanisms to help deal with blues can be one way to bring your old self back.

If you or your organization don't take it seriously or turn a blind eye to it, you will perform the bare minimum at work or even consider quitting.

Suggested Read : 5 Signs Of Mental Exhaustion To Look For If You're Psyched Out At Work

5 Ways To Stop It From Affecting Your Productivity


Post-vacation blues can affect your productivity and work life in many ways, which is not uncommon to experience. The feeling of returning to the grind can cause a drop in your productivity level and motivation at work.

However, with the right strategies and help, you can easily prevent it from affecting your work. Here are a few ways to stop the blues from affecting your productivity skills at work -

1. Give Yourself Some Time To Readjust

It can be challenging to jump right to work after returning from vacation. If you don't allow yourself time to adjust and relive the memoirs from your holidays and get back to the grind, you will physically and mentally drain yourself.

Before diving deep into your work, you must take a day or two to ease yourself into your routine. Again if you don't have any paid leaves left, you can even try to take things at work one at a time so that you don't exhaust yourself.

You can also try the transitional day method, i.e., if you can fit it into your budget or time, then you can give yourself a day or two before going back to work. And on those days, you try to unpack, do grocery shopping, or take care of anything small that comes up while you are away. It will help ease the transitional phase and help you better face morning anxiety.

Trying to create a healthy workplace that your employees enjoy coming back to is one of the best things an employer can do.

2. Prioritize Your Tasks


One of the key factors contributing to your vacation blues is the realization of returning to your routine and responsibilities. Your return to work can come up with many pending tasks, making you feel overwhelmed and anxious. You can tackle this by ensuring you are calm and maybe taking a few minutes to breathe.

Taking a vacation can also be a great time to develop more positive thinking and change your feelings and behavior to improve yourself. Upon your return, you can practice mindfulness and gratitude, as studies have shown practicing mindfulness reduces stress and depression.

  • Try to make a to-do list of the things and tasks that need to be done on a priority basis.

  • Break down all the tasks into smaller ones, so you don't miss out on the important ones.

  • Prioritize your tasks and focus on the most critical ones firsts.

  • It will give you a sense of accomplishment and make you feel less stressed about others.

Once you are organized, you will feel less stressed and anxious. It will help you focus more on your life's positive aspects post-vacation.

Suggested Read: Introducing The Gratitude Challenge At Work

3. Embrace Self-Care


Vacation can be both relaxing and cramping at the same time. When on vacation, you generally indulge more in alcohol and junk food. Most often, you tend to neglect yourself and your basic care.

Since traveling can make you experience jet lag and the lack of melatonin can make you sleep-deprived and dehydrated, you can start your self-care journey by trying detox. Caring for yourself will make you feel more energized and productive at work.

Here are a few tips on embracing self-care post vacation to minimize the drip in serotonin-

  • Take gentle dietary detox, as it might help you both physically and mentally

  • Try to get enough sleep; taking extra melatonin can help you get your sleep cycle back on track.

  • Try to engage yourself in some physical activities like regular exercise or yoga sessions to help kick back those endorphins in your body.

Suggested Read : 14 Fantastic Benefits Of Yoga In The Workplace

4. Document Your Memories Or Share Your Experiences

After a good vacation, returning to work can be mentally exhausting and make you dread your work hours even more. As a result, you might be less productive and motivated to continue your day at work.

Procrastinating or daydreaming about your vacation will only weaken your current mental state. Hence, it is best if you document and share your experiences so that you can relive them as soon as possible.

Try to relieve your vacation by printing out your favorite snippets, uploading or sharing your photos or videos, or even journaling about your experience. Furthermore, you can share it with your colleagues and friends during lunch or coffee breaks. At work, it will keep you motivated and connected.

Suggested Read: 5 Signs Of Mental Exhaustion

5. Have Something To Look Forward To

One of the main reasons why you might experience vacation blues or feel depressed as soon as you land back to your regular life is that you feel like there is nothing new left to look forward to. Lack of excitement and anticipation to do something can cause a drip in your serotonin levels and make you even sadder.

“Set a goal that makes you jump out of bed in the morning – Unknown”

Unlike the widespread belief that vacation makes you feel rejuvenated and happy, recent studies have shown that the after-effects of a vacation can be quite the opposite. A good way to end your trip less depressing is by planning something fun to look forward to the coming weekend after your return.

Plan a weekend getaway or a night out with your friends, or join a new class or any activity that will remind you of what's in store upon your return. As a result, it will help you stay motivated and engaged at work and in your personal life.

Summing It Up

While there is no avoiding the blues post-vacation, you can keep them at bay. You can still be happy and productive if you learn and work on it with the right strategies and help.

Although post-vacation blues are not recognized as depression, the symptoms can be as serious as generalized depression or even worse. To overcome post-vacation depression, it is best to relax and decompress on vacation.

Even the smallest change of habits or space can make a difference when transitioning back to your regular life at work. However, if the symptoms persist for longer, you should seek professional help.

I hope this article helped you better understand post-vacation blues and how to overcome them at work.

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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