We crave it constantly, wait for it restlessly, it finally hits us, and in a blink of an eye, we’re back.
Everyone knows the goal in life is to love your job and life so much you never wait for a vacation but let’s be real. Even those that love their jobs, live their dreams and are completely happy still need some time at some point in the year to get away and recharge. For my fellow Canadians, the need for some sun is a must.
The vacation flies by, and it’s not always easy to jump back into reality. Going away makes you feel like a different person sometimes and depending on where you went and what kind of trip you took, it may be very difficult to move on after seeing the incredible things abroad or the comparison of your vacation lifestyle versus your reality.
At the end of the day, vacation is vacation and work is work. A carefree attitude that you have for a week or two must drift back to focus and responsibilities real quick. Here are some tips to get you transitioning back without falling into post-vacation blues, and they may not make you feel as you did with the views of Greece or the beaches of Jamaica but it will definitely give you a boost if you hit that stump.
1. Schedule your time with a day in between
Nothing sucks more than flying back in and rushing to work the very next day. You need time to absorb things, get over your flight fun if it was long or delayed or indirect. Time to rest up if there’s a time difference from your destination, unpack quickly, do laundry, take a nice long shower, and get to sleep early. You need to get ready for the week both mentally and physically (hence the importance of Sundays in general) and restart your back to work mode on a good and calm note. You could do this by trying to schedule your vacation return flight on a Friday or Saturday and if this can’t be done, request your vacation time with that extra day in mind. Don’t neglect a smooth transition.
2. Adjust to time and weather changes accordingly
Going to Mexico and coming back home to freezing cold temperatures and icy roads? You just loaded up on Vitamin D galore and a sudden lack of sun shouldn’t be a killer. Load up on your supplements and foods rich in nutrients to prevent a serious depressing stump and help your body fight off a cold that might loom in from the harsh contrast of 30 degrees to -15 degrees (Celsius, my American friends). Your skin will need some TLC along with it so adjust your seasonal routine back.
Jet lag stinks especially when coming from a destination with a 5+ time difference. Your sleeping schedule will be off and you’ll be groggy after a long flight. Wiggle in slowly and adjust as well as you can with the help of coffee and lots of rest the week you get back.
3. Make a to-do list and update your calendar
Regardless of how long you’re gone for or what kind of vacation you took, chances are you were worry and care free majority of the time and did (your best) not to worry about anything back home from bills to work to diets to family. Whatever it is lingering, it is always best to take a pause – that is what vacation is made for.
Once you are back, everything else is back where you left it. Make a list of what you need to do, prioritizing the most important. Open up and update that pesky calendar that you love so dearly (or am I the only one that lives by that?). Slowly throughout the week you’re back, take baby steps into getting things done for a quick and smooth catch up and you’ll feel like you missed no time at all.
You have been drinking and/or eating more on your trip and having later nights than usual. That’s great – during vacation. When you get back, bounce back to a healthier you with limited alcoholic beverages (who can say no to a glass of wine though?), better portion sizes and eating habits, and a better sleep schedule. Unfortunately, going to bed at 3am after a huge buffet dinner and plenty of alcohol every evening does not work in real life if you want to be functioning. Leave that on vacation.
5. Friction happens, face it honestly
No matter who you go with and where you go, at some point there may be a little friction. If you go away with a group of friends and realize they aren’t the friends you really want to be surrounded with, reevaluate those friendships. If you go away with your family, you may start going a tad bit crazy being with them all the time and you’ll have to speak your mind or deal with it patiently because it’s family after all. If you go away with your significant other and realize that some things were not so perfect in paradise, talk about what went wrong together openly and be real about it to move forward. Studies show 1 in 10 couples break up after going on vacation together. Hopefully, you’re not the 1 because no one wants to be a statistic.
Maybe you did something you shouldn’t have. It’s easy to say that what happens in (enter destination) stays in (said destination), but when you get back to life your memories will remind you. Fess up to mistakes, even if it’s just to yourself, and figure out what to do next.
At the end of the day, a vacation will always provide plenty of small opportunities to argue with whoever it is you’re with through the constant decisions of where to go, what to do, when to do it, etc. This type of friction is just a part of vacation and what sometimes helps is going with larger groups because everyone will find someone else in the group that wants to do the same thing. Nonetheless, if little things from your trip become something that can’t be moved past, you may have to face red flags and you should face them honestly.
6. Be a storyteller and keep the memory alive
In a blink of an eye, your vacation is over and you hopefully have plenty of photos to back it up. People will ask you where you went, how it was, and hopefully compliment your tan and restful glow. Tell them about everything happily because talking about it makes it feel like it’s still close and reminds you how it amazing it was. Maintain your post-vacation greatness as long as you can and it is sure to enhance your mood.
Take a jump further by printing some of your favourite shots and framing them or sticking them up at your desk. You can even change your desktop photo. Just keep the memories there strong.
7. Keep sharing
Just because the trip is over doesn’t mean you can’t keep sharing the moments. Can’t you tell, I’m a sucker for memories. Share that glamorous throwback photo of you on a beach in Cuba when the January snow kicks in to bring your mood up a little and brighten up everyone’s feed. In a perfect world, you could crawl into your photos and live through them, but for now, settle on looking, sharing, and remembering.
8. Clean and clear things out
I always over pack on vacations, telling myself I won’t do it next time. Obviously, I do it again next time. The point is, although I clean through my closet often and donate clothing, I never do a true purge as I should because I have a thought in the back of my head saying that I still may wear it or fit into it. Living out of a suitcase each time makes me realize over and over again how little I really need day to day. Did I survive without those expensive heels I bought years ago and only wore once? Totally. Will I survive without them forever? Indeed I will.
Do a real haul of your stuff, freeing your closet, space, and mind while you’re at it. Sell them for some cash or donate them to goodwill. Remember, fewer possessions and a minimalist lifestyle can actually make you feel much more freedom and sanity.
9. Daydream about your next trip
This may sound counter-intuitive but hear me out. Planning a trip and the countdown leading up to it leads many to get pumped because they know it’s coming. Even browsing a beautiful resort on a beach might help free your mind in the middle of a slump. The same way I love checking out real estate that I don’t plan to get (or can afford), I love looking at beautiful destinations just the same.
10. Don’t sulk
Whining about going back to work or your typical responsibilities will not do any good. Things have to be done and it’s a big mind over matter moment. If you go back in with the mindset that you got this and you are ready to be back, chances are you will feel just that on your first day. Life isn’t a vacation but as long as you make the most of it during your regular days, you’ll be a happy camper.
11. Restart like a boss
No matter where I have gone, I always eat more when I’m away. Yet I always come back home the same way I left or with a little weight loss. Why? Because vacations give you more walking time and you may not even notice it. Walking everywhere is great exercise and should be brought into your daily routine. Come back with your full set of energy and the motivation to eat well, exercise, work harder, and get more focused on your goals, ambitions, and needs. You just rested. Your batteries are full – use them.
12. Set aside me-time
Just because you’re no longer on vacation does not mean you can no longer rest. Please. Rest. Every single person needs a moment, even if it’s a couple hours at the end of the week to sit back, recharge, and get back up. Don’t drain yourself all the way to burn out and only recharge a little on a vacation you take once or twice a year. You deserve time to yourself or you’ll be killing yourself slowly.