People use vacations as a time to relax, dream, create, and brainstorm ways to make life more like a vacation, year-round. They make resolutions to enjoy life more, take more breaks, spend more time with friends…to live more, laugh more, even make love more. Life feels that sweet and promising, and then, bam! Vacation’s over, and reality hits like a smack in the face. It’s no wonder that all that optimism and euphoria can lead to a serious case of the post-vacation blues.
So how do you hang on to that renewed sense of purpose that vacations instill? Let’s face it: you’re coming home to the stresses of work, extended family, day-to-day life, and maybe to a stack of bills. It’s stressful! However, there are ways to stay tuned into that inner voice that you heard so clearly while you were on vacation, rather than let it be drowned out by the white noise of everyday life.
Try these tips to stave off post-vacation blues:
CHANGE YOUR ROUTINES
Most of us dread the end of a vacation because it means returning to our old, tired routines. But if you don’t like your routine, change it! Maybe you can’t quit your job, but you can rearrange your office so that you have a view out the window. Take the dog for a walk on a different route. Try that new recipe you’ve been meaning to test out. Regardless of the nature of your work and your children’s schedules, do your best to be spontaneous and flexible. Most of the routine and rigidity in our life is self-imposed, anyway.
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MAKE A LIST OF GOALS
A fun to-do list—of things you really want to do—will cheer you up because it creates a sense of exciting novelty. Write down your plans for the year, your dreams to fulfill, even the new clothes you can´t wait to buy for the new season. Let your imagination fly. You can also make a vision board, with a collage of pictures from magazines. Place it somewhere that you’ll see it daily, such as your bathroom mirror or on the door of the fridge.
REVISIT THOSE GOALS
Now, go back and edit those goals! Remove anything that is nothing more than a vague wish. Get rid of all the unrealistic goals that were driven by the desire to escape your life (Are you really going to spend a month in India this winter?). And finally, eliminate all those goals that do not even belong to you—the things you added just because they sound like the right thing to do. You know: exercise every single day, visit your mother-in-law every week, go on a strict diet. Stick to only your true goals, even if there are only two or three.
DO THINGS FOR PLEASURE
Remember why vacation is so fun and relaxing? Because almost everything you’re doing, you’re doing for the sheer pleasure of it. Find little ways to incorporate this self-indulgence into your everyday life. Book a mani/pedi. Pick up the phone and make a lunch date with a few of your best friends. Go sit in a park and read a book while the kids play in the grass. Sure, your schedule is not entirely your own, but you can always eke out time, even if it’s just once a week, to do something just for you.
Vacations bring joy because they release you from constraining obligations and routines, and open your mind to new possibilities. You hear your inner voice saying, “What if we did this?” But don’t shut off that inner voice; instead, take a lesson from him. Life is supposed to be fun and joyful, so don’t let the post-vacation blues rob you of that state of mind.