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Post-Vacation Blues

This summer I attended a much-needed family reunion in Bismarck. Although about 20 family members were unable to attend, a total of 48 of us –ranging from ages 80 to 18 months—spent a wonderful weekend together. I hadn’t seen any family in about 5 years. And because I see family so rarely, I visit HARD. I focus on each individual intently and devour as much from each moment as I can.

Then comes the flight home. Surprisingly, I didn’t suffer jet lag (I’ve been known to suffer jet lag without leaving the time zone or even getting within ten miles of an aircraft, but maybe that’s just me!). So this article isn’t about jet lag, but rather the return home, and the day or two afterwards.

After any trip—even a long car trip—my body seems to hum and reverberate as if it has to realign itself with the familiar surroundings of home. Am I alone in this feeling? There’s also a little fatigue and sadness, which this article is about.

Not surprisingly, this phenomenon is common. According to Medical News Today (MNT), post-vacation depression is not a clinically recognized condition but is often reported after returning home from a vacation. Symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and feeling nostalgic can last up to two weeks. MNT states that the reluctance to return to work may cause feelings of stress to rise, although they had subsided while on vacation. Dealing with sunburn, bug bites, excessive food, and/ or alcohol can also bring one’s mood down upon returning home.

To prevent this, MNT recommends giving yourself time to readjust. Be sure to eat healthfully, stay physically active, and perhaps practice meditation. As for coping mechanisms, journaling about your negative feelings may be helpful. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Art Therapy found that creating scrapbooks provided psychological comfort to subjects. 

Mindfulness was also suggested in combating post-vacation depression. Deep breathing and focusing on your 5 senses were advised, as well as focusing on the body and paying attention to how each part feels. Pay attention to tension, tingling, tightness, etc. 

But above all, look upon your vacation time fondly, and know that if you do feel a little down upon returning home, the low feelings will likely pass as you resume your daily routines. And remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Always. 

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