Post-Vacation Depression: Feeling Down After Travel or Vacation?

For most people, vacation is a time to relax and enjoy time away from work. But for some, post-vacation depression can be a real struggle. If you’re one of those people who have come back from vacation feeling down and out, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Here’s our advice.
post-vacation depression

Have you ever taken a vacation with high hopes, only to return home feeling sad and unmotivated? This is post-vacation depression, which may affect 10–20% of travelers. It can be attributed to an escape from daily stressors while away, plus lofty dreams that often go unfulfilled when reality sets in back at home. Luckily, there are effective coping mechanisms available, such as displaying souvenirs or planning your next getaway!

What Is Post Vacation Depression?

Post-vacation depression, also known as post-holiday blues or post-travel depression, is a feeling of sadness and lack of motivation after returning from a trip or vacation. It may also involve stress and anxiety, as well as difficulty readjusting to everyday life. Symptoms can include:

  • feeling restless or irritable;
  • lack of motivation;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • feeling sad or depressed;
  • trouble getting back into a routine;
  • low energy.

If you’re experiencing post-vacation blues, it’s important to remember that it’s a legitimate feeling and not something to be ashamed of. Keep reading to find out more about the condition and what you can do to cope.

What Is Post Vacation Depression?

Why Does Post-Vacation Depression Happen?

There are a few reasons post-vacation depression can occur. One reason is that vacations can create a temporary escape from daily stressors and responsibilities. When vacation ends, those stressors come rushing back, causing feelings of depression. Additionally, it can also stem from having lofty expectations for the vacation and feeling let down upon returning home.

The way you manage stress in your everyday life can also play a role in post-vacation blues. For example, if you come back from vacation to an overwhelming workload or challenging personal problems, post-vacation depression may be more likely to occur. It’s best to resolve as much as possible before leaving for vacation to reduce the risk.

How Many People Experience Post-Holiday Blues?

It’s estimated that about 10–20% of vacationers experience post-vacation depression to some degree. According to an article in The Mirror, 57% of British travelers suffer from this condition at some point in their lives. There isn’t much data, but post-holiday blues have also been studied in relation to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

How Long Does Post-Vacation Depression Last?

The duration of post-vacation syndrome can vary from person to person. In most cases, it tends to last for a few days to a couple of weeks. However, it can also turn into a longer lasting and more severe depression if left untreated. It’s important to address post-vacation blues and seek help if needed.

How to Cope – Display Your Souvenirs

One way to cope with post-vacation depression is to unpack and find a place for your souvenirs from the trip. This can serve as a reminder of the good times you had and help to boost your mood. Displaying photos from the trip can have a similar effect.

Reminiscing about the vacation can also be helpful, as long as it doesn’t become excessive and prevent you from moving forward. If you went on the trip with loved ones, talking about your experiences can be a great way to bond and feel connected.

How to Cope – Give Yourself Time Before Returning to Work

If possible, give yourself a few days of rest after coming home from vacation. This allows time for leisure and relaxation, giving your mind and body a chance to readjust. It also gives you time to catch up on any tasks or emails that may have piled up while you were away.

How to Cope – Give Yourself Time Before Returning to Work

What if you can’t take additional time off after returning from vacation? It’s still important to prioritize self-care. Set aside some time for relaxation, exercise, and healthy eating. Don’t take on any more responsibilities than necessary and remember to communicate with your employer or coworkers if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

How to Cope – Start Researching Your Next Trip

Planning your next vacation gives you something to look forward to and allows time to save for the trip. Plus, planning a vacation can have its own excitement and joy. If you view the period of work as a time to prepare for your next adventure, it can help alleviate negative feelings and symptoms of depression.

How to Cope – Treat Yourself

Treating yourself post-vacation can also be a helpful coping mechanism. This could involve indulging in a massage or spa day, trying a new restaurant, or simply taking some time for self-reflection. Take care of your physical and mental well-being to prevent post-trip blues.

Talk to Someone If Post-Vacation Depression Is Overwhelming

Whether it’s post-vacation depression or post-holiday blues, the important thing to remember is that you are not alone in feeling this way. Seek support from loved ones or a mental health professional if your depression becomes overwhelming and interferes with your day-to-day life. Many treatment options, such as therapy and medication, can help to manage depressive episodes in the long term.

Goodbye to Vacation – Meditation Exercise 🧘

Take a deep breath and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. You’re on vacation, and you’re savoring every moment. You let yourself drift away, feeling your worries and stress melt away. 

With each deep breath, you remember the sights, the sounds, and the smells of your holiday. Let yourself appreciate all the memories you have made over time. Take a few moments to reflect on the amazing memories you made and the lessons you learned. Remember the beauty of the place and the people you met.

As you exhale, slowly begin to say goodbye to vacation and reconnect with reality. Watch all the feelings of sadness or anxiety float away as you acknowledge the end of your getaway.

Take a few more deep breaths and slowly look around. You’re back in the present moment, ready to take on the world again. You’re filled with a newfound sense of peace, joy, and appreciation for life. You’re ready to say goodbye to your vacation and hello to reality.

Final Thoughts

It’s also important to remember that feeling depressed when you’re back from vacation is temporary. Recognize it as a natural response to vacation coming to an end, and try to make self-care a priority as you readjust to everyday life. And before you know it, you’ll be ready for your next adventure.

If you’re struggling with depression of any kind, you can also seek support from resources such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) helpline at 1-800-950-6264. We can’t guarantee that this content is accurate for you – a mental health professional can help you find personalized ways to manage post-travel blues and transition back to your normal routine.

Final Thoughts

FAQs About Depression and Travel

Is It Common to Feel Depressed After Vacation?

Yes, it’s quite common. After the excitement of vacation comes to a close, it can leave us feeling melancholic. The change in routine and responsibilities that come with returning home often trigger post-vacation blues – those bittersweet feelings from leaving behind fond memories but still having our obligations waiting for us back at work or school.

Why Do I Feel Terrible After Vacation?

What do you mean by terrible? Are you ill or just not feeling up to it? If you’re having headaches, fatigue, nausea, or flu-like symptoms, it might be leisure sickness. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even stressed out from being in unknown places. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself when you get home – remember all the amazing things that happened on your trip and focus on those as you ease back into regular life.

Why Do I Feel Weird After Coming Back From Vacation?

Vacations can be exhilarating – you experience new sights, reconnect with distant memories, or make lasting bonds – and it’s normal to feel mixed emotions once the journey comes to an end. Many people feel out of sorts when they have to go back to their everyday routines right when they’ve started to feel at home in another place. But don’t fret! This feeling will eventually fade away.

Is Vacation Hangover a Thing?

Vacation hangover is just another name for post-travel blues, and it’s a very real thing. Experiencing post-travel blues is normal, because going from being in a relaxed state to having to face your daily tasks can be overwhelming. The journey itself can also be taxing due to long flights, delays, and other inconveniences.

How Long of a Vacation Is Too Long?

For optimal enjoyment, it’s best not to get away for more than 8–9 days! Recent studies suggest that extended vacations could have unintentional drawbacks, such as decreased contentment and difficulty returning to regular life.

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