Updated: Aug 29, 2022
You spent wonderful holidays visiting a new country or drinking margaritas on the beach. You are back home and you are supposed to feel relax and refresh but you don’t feel well at all. Nothing is working as it should and you feel sad and empty or in other word, depressed. You don’t like your home, your friends, your family, your life and it seems that nobody understand what you’re going through?
You are probably experiencing a Post-Holidays Depression also known as "PHD".
Don’t worry, people usually recover within 3 to 4 weeks and this article will give you 5 easy ways to beat the syndromes and get your life back faster
What is Post Holidays Depression and what are the symptoms
Post-Holidays Depression or Post-Vacation Blues is a syndrome that emerges after a long time off from work. It is usually triggered by the contrast between 2 radically different realities:
In one hand, you holiday time was filled with intense energy and excitement.
In the other hand once you are back, you quickly fall into your previous daily routines, especially the bad ones. For example, you haven’t turn on the TV during your leave but the first thing you did the evening of your return was to turn on Netflix to watch your favorite show. You know you shouldn’t have done it but you did it anyway and a very negative self-talk starts in your mind making you feel very bad.
The main symptoms of Post-Holidays Depression are:
Being exhausted or struggling with insomnia,
Having mood swings, feeling sad, anxious or upset most of the time,
Having trouble to concentrate,
Total lack of motivation,
Spending an excessive amount of time online with the people that were with you during your holidays,
Feeling that nobody gets you anymore,
Spending a lot of time thinking about how to move back definitively where you spent your holidays,
Constantly criticizing things or people
Feeling sudden physical pain (headache, back, neck or arm pain etc.).
If this resonates with you and you node to some or many of these symptoms, you are likely suffering PHD.
Post Holidays Depression happens in 4 distinct phases:
Phase 1: The euphoric return: You are coming back home, full of energy and excited to meet your friends and family to share with them your happiness,
Phase 2: The existential crisis: You start to compare your life with the one you had during your holidays. The freedom, the people you met, the landscape you discovered, the experiences etc…, against your everyday life, the responsibility, your boss, the weather, your routines... It was so better to eat French fries or to drink margarita on the beach,
Phase 3: The doubt phase: Will I really spend 35 years of my life, 8 hours a day behind my computer looking at Instagram influencers having fun all around the world? Usually, during this phase, you stop to compare and take conscious of your new objectives and goals you want to achieve. This is a good time to consider discuss with a coach and check that your objectives are congruent with what you really want,
Phase 4: The rehabilitation: Following the depressed period, you go back to your life taking the new direction you want to follow. It is when you need to build new positive habits
How to cope with your Post-Holiday Depression?
1. Adjust your self-talk and practice gratitude
Fixing PHD is mainly a matter of adjusting your self-talk. The way you perceive your return home is far more depressing and boring than it actually is. You can’t change what happen to you but you can change the way you react to it. Don’t forget that not everybody has chance to take holidays.
Action: Adjust your self-talk by listing every day 3 things you are grateful for and you will start to feel better.
Tips from the Routinologist: If you have trouble to do it, you can watch some inspirational speech on YouTube. I personally love the one from Denzel Washington at Dillard University.
2. Go back to your positive daily routines and give up negative ones
It is usually hard to continue your routines during Holidays and WE. Now you are back home and instead of practicing your daily meditation or going to the gym, you start watching YouTube or surf on Facebook. You hear the voice in your head that tells you to stop but you think: “Just this time, it’s ok, only for this week”. The compound effect of such small decisions has very strong and negative impact on your life & it will work against you in the recovery from your PHD.
Action on your positive routines: Re-start your positive routines from a level where you can manage them without risk of failure. If you used to meditate 15 minutes every morning, start again by 5 minutes and increase progressively the length. Do that for all your routines and you will soon get back to autopilot mode. Read my article on how to create lasting positive habits.
Tips from the Routinologist: The show you are about to watch on Netflix won’t disappear. Be relentless. Don’t give yourself any exception. Replace the negative habit by a new activity like reading a guidebook on your next holiday’s destination or listening to the latest chart on Spotify.
3. Take care of your diet and get hydrated
Maybe you spent your time eating out very rich food or maybe you spent every night drinking and dancing. The healthy lifestyle habits that took you months to build fell apart. Now you are desperately craving a good night's sleep and your first reaction is to drink coffee, lots of it. But caffeine will actually not help.
Action: Resume your balanced diet and drink a lot of water
Tips from the Routinologist: If you think that water is boring, add some pieces of oranges, lemon and grapefruit in your water and you will discover a new fresh and healthy cocktail
4. Don't compare and despair
Your favorite influencers are paid to spend some time in Ibiza or Mykonos. You always loose when you compare yourself with their online stories.
If you are facing PHD, seeing pictures of your friends on social media will make your feelings worse.
Action: Give up social media for a couple of weeks and get people to tell you about their latest adventures in person.
Tips from the Routinologist: Delete social media apps from your phone and only reinstall them on your phone when you will feel better
5. Keep a holiday mood by travelling in your backyard
After returning home, keep your holiday’s mindset and make plans to start to explore area that you never visited or that you visited long time ago. Go outside, get sun, and take tons of pictures. Play sport, have drinks, go to the restaurant. You could even visit a museum to learn more about the history of the place you leave.
Action: Be in a tourist mode in your own city
It usually takes less than one month to recover from a Post-Holidays Depression and the main thing you have to do is to be patient. In case of emergency, don’t resign or shout at your friends or family, just take big deep breaths.
Last but not least, instead of just feeling bad or sorry about the PHD, what about using this opportunity to set yourself new goals for the year. People use to set good resolution in January do you want to wait half a year to take control of your life