Everyone has experienced a condition called the “post-vacation blues” before. Whether it’s a big performance, race, competition or trip you participated in, the feeling of emptiness and sadness will most likely settle in after the end of the joyous event.
As someone who lives from moment to moment, the end of a fun vacation or occasion can quickly sour into a bitter memory.
When I was a stage manager for my school’s theatre productions in high school, my mind was already filled with gloomy thoughts about the end, dreading the closing of the curtains.
Every orchestra concert that my ensemble performed, it was just one step closer to quitting viola forever.
Meeting up with my high school best friend or my boyfriend who lives a thousand miles away for a week is over in a blink of an eye.
Right as I am living in the moment, my brain quickly reminds me of one unwavering fact — it will end, and I will never be able to experience this again.
This phenomenon stems from the letdown effect, a crash after the end of a momentous event that could result in fatigue, emptiness and even depression.
In people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a kind of depression that affects 5% of U.S. adults, many can experience compounded post-holiday depression.
And while I don’t suffer from the same disorder, I understand why it’s so prominent. After working endlessly to complete a task or goal — such as a marathon or concert — I feel lost when it is suddenly over.
I usually get over a case of the post-vacation blues in a week or so, but sometimes it hits harder.
The worst instance of my post-vacation blues was when I met up with my boyfriend during winter break. It was almost a whole week long, and I felt like regular life was on pause and I was in a movie.
Days of fun and relaxation with no stress about daily tasks, homework or assignments felt like forever. And right when I felt at ease, my vacation was over and we had to part ways again.
The plunge from euphoria into my monotonous lifestyle saddens me every vacation. Even though I know it’s irrational and that my life is still enjoyable outside vacation time, I love the break in routine.
Although post-vacation blues are not the most serious condition, your feelings are still valid. In order to cope with this sadness, keep in mind some of the following remedial strategies.
A healthy diet, exercise routine and sleep schedule can be the most forgettable yet important ways to keep yourself happy and establish your routine again. It may be easy to put aside when you have deadlines to worry about, but your physical health is tied to your mental health.
It’s also essential to keep up with family and friends, sharing your memories with them as well. Remember and strengthen your support system, and try not to let distance be a reason to disregard them.
Above all else, practice gratitude and mindfulness. I take time to remember what I’m thankful for and try to journal when I can.
It’s also helpful to plan the next trip after one ends in order to have something to look forward to. Therefore, you will always be motivated to work toward a goal everyday.
I will never be able to experience my first Model UN again or move into my first BU dorm. However, I still can look forward to my last semester of college, my college graduation or the first apartment I move into.
The point is to always look to the future. Good times do come to an end, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience even better things later on. Keeping a positive attitude, clear mind and focusing on your health can help you deal with post-vacation blues and steer you to a life full of happiness.