The past week was glorious. You tried every possible combination at the hotel omelette bar, became a treasured regular at the swim-up pool bar and even learned how to make an epic Sex on the Beach from some dude at the beach who said he was a mixologist, but may have just been super high. It was sweet!
But alas, all good things must come to an end, and now you’re on the plane home, soaring toward another year of mind-numbing office work and at least one whole week of post-vacation blues. Overcoming the debilitating depression that can follow an outstanding vacation is possible, though, as our panel of experts points out.
Use Your Vacation Wisely (and Change Your Routine)
According to psychologist Jeanette Raymond, the simplest way to avoid post-vacation depression is to be proactive by taking full advantage of your time away, since she says these sad feelings often stem from having regrets about how you used your vacation. She emphasizes, however, that this doesn’t mean booking every possible excursion: Instead, she recommends simply using your vacation as an opportunity to decompress from the troubles you left back home, which basically means stop working while you’re on vacation, dude.
Raymond also suggests adding something new to your routine when you get home. “It’s normal to feel a bit sad when you have to get back on the treadmill,” she says. “But you can mitigate those emotions by including something new in your routine that will help you feel more grounded when life takes you to a stratosphere that’s constantly unreal and stressful.” Perhaps you can bring a piece of vacation home with you by making yourself a Sex on the Beach every Sunday afternoon — if anything, the alcohol might help you feel better about no longer being in Cancun and actually enjoying your life.
Plan Another Vacation (and Explore Your Own City)
“Our golden rule is to always have a vacation in the planning,” says Paul Healy, the man behind the Anywhere We Roam travel blog. “Even if it’s a year away, planning that next big adventure will give you a focal point to combat those post-vacation blues and return to work without feeling completely depressed.”
If planning a whole other vacation is out of the question, consider taking some mini vacations in your own city. “We make plans to explore our own city so we continue those feelings of excitement, novelty and adventure that give you a rush when you’re traveling,” explains Becca Siegel, of the travel and photo site Half Half Travel. “This could include researching new neighborhoods to venture into, going to an event we typically wouldn’t attend or meeting up with old friends to try the food of the country from which we just returned.”
Reminisce About the Good Times
Jodi Ettenberg, who’s traveled the world for a decade, documenting her journeys on Legal Nomads, says the only real way to skirt the post-vacation blues is by having “a job you love to come back to.” But she also understands that this isn’t realistic for everyone. “I tell people to edit for the good, not the bad,” she explains. “Remind yourself that you’re lucky you could take a great vacation — many people can’t. Be grateful for the fun and adventures, and then fill that empty feeling with the knowledge that you’ll plan the best you can for another one soon.”
To that end, Siegel suggests flipping through the photos you took on vacation. “We look back at our photos in order to relive the memories,” she says. “Better yet, if we’re taking photos off our cameras, we start editing them a week or so later, just when the realities of home settle in. That way, we can rummage through all the details of the trip that may seem distant already — delicious food, gorgeous views, people we met and experiences we shared.” Devin Feldman, who recently spent a year traveling around Southeast Asia, adds to this approach, suggesting, “Ride the wave of getting 120 likes on your Instagram post.”
Alternatively, you could have the hotel call your boss and tell them you died in an umbrella incident while you proceed to live the rest of your life knee-deep in the surf, sharing dubious Sex on the Beach recipes with strangers. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.