Holiday Health: How Traveling Improves Your Well-Being and Dealing With Post-Vacation Blues

15 min read

Summer is on the horizon, bringing longer days and a perfect opportunity for a well-deserved break. As the school year draws to a close and vacation plans begin, it’s crucial to recognise the mental health benefits of taking time away from regular life.

Disconnecting from the daily grind is a necessity for maintaining psychological well-being. There are several studies indicating that going on vacation improves your physical and emotional health, sleep, energy levels, productivity, and creativity.

Globally, the sentiment is also overwhelmingly positive, with 92% of respondents feeling that going on vacation has a beneficial impact on their mental well-being.

The benefits of a break begin almost immediately, with a remarkable 89% of travelers report significant drops in stress just after a day or two of starting their vacation. The positive effects of a one-week vacation can even extend up to 30 days post-trip, according to a study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Vacations also reduce the risk of depression. Interestingly, women who take vacations twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression and chronic stress compared to those who take breaks less frequently.

With such compelling evidence of the rejuvenating effects of vacations on our mental health, it becomes important to consider how to make the most of them, as well as cope with the post-vacation blues.

How to Maximize the Mental Health Benefits of Your Vacation

Approximately 21% of people report feeling tense or stressed during their holidays, and more than a quarter (28%) end up working more than planned, which can diminish the restorative effects of a trip. Here’s some tips on how to put a stop to this.

Plan in Advance

Planning your vacation in advance can decrease pre-trip anxiety and stress. By sorting out travel arrangements, accommodations, and activities ahead of time, you can ensure a smooth journey. 

Planning also allows you to anticipate and look forward to the experiences you’ll enjoy, which can boost your overall mood even before the vacation begins.

Digital Detox

Commit to unplugging from emails, social media, and constant connectivity. This can help you fully engage with your surroundings and the people with you. 

By taking a break from your digital devices, you can reduce stress and have a more mindful vacation experience.

Setting specific times to check devices or limiting screen time to a few moments per day may help you stay present and fully enjoy your vacation.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your vacation can enhance your mental well-being significantly.

For 20% of Americans in the Northeast, practices like yoga and meditation are key to achieving relaxation and peace of mind while on holiday. These activities help manage stress, increase self-awareness, and improve emotional health.

Cultural Engagement

Engaging with new cultures and people can be incredibly enriching and beneficial for mental health.

A quarter of people in the U.S. appreciate the mental benefits of meeting new people while on holiday. Younger travelers often seek adventure, with 24% of global respondents to an eDreams’ poll finding adventurous activities mentally beneficial. Meanwhile, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 find sightseeing to be significantly uplifting. 

Embracing these experiences can provide a fresh perspective and invigorate your emotional disposition.

Rest and Sleep

Relaxation is key to a successful vacation for many around the globe, with 42% citing ‘relaxing and doing nothing’ as the most beneficial activity.

Make sure your holiday allows for ample downtime to relax and rejuvenate. This might mean prioritizing comfortable accommodation, having leisure days without scheduled activities, and ensuring there are plenty of opportunities for restful sleep.

How to Cope with the Post-Vacation Blues

Returning from a refreshing trip can sometimes lead to what’s known as the ‘post-vacation blues’, a non-clinical term that describes the slump many people feel after a break from their routine.

These blues might not be a clinically recognized condition, but the feelings of sadness, listlessness, or work anxiety many experience after a vacation are very real.

While this feeling is common, there are effective ways to mitigate its impact and ease your transition back to everyday life.

Take it Easy

Ease back into your work schedule if possible. Instead of jumping straight into a full workload, try to plan a buffer day to catch up on emails and routine tasks. 

You could even take an extra day or two off work once you arrive home to help you ease back into routines and regular environments. This can help mitigate the shock of returning to the faster paces of life.

Maintain Vacation Benefits

Try to integrate elements of your vacation into your daily routine. Keeping these elements alive can prolong the positive effects of your break.

If you enjoyed a good book, continue to carve out time for reading. If outdoor activities were a highlight, make time for similar physical activities in your week. 

Create a Welcoming Work Environment

Personalize your workspace with mementos from your trip, such as photos or souvenirs.

These pleasant reminders of your vacation can help maintain a connection to the relaxed feelings you experienced.

Plan Your Next Break

Having another holiday to look forward to can be an excellent antidote to post-vacation blues. 

Even if it’s just a short weekend getaway, knowing there’s another break on the horizon can make daily routines more bearable.

If that sounds too financially intense, have a think about planning fun activities in the weeks and months following your vacation.

Reflect on Your Experience

A study found that scrapbooking or journaling can provide some psychological comfort, so spend some time reflecting on what you enjoyed most about your holiday.

Writing about your experiences in a journal or sharing stories with friends and family can help you process your emotions and reinforce the positive aspects of your time away.

Seek Help if Needed

If you find that your post-vacation blues are particularly intense or do not fade over time, it may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional. They can provide strategies to cope with the transition and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your feelings.

By acknowledging the reality of post-vacation blues and implementing these strategies, you can help smooth the transition back to everyday life and extend the positive impacts of your time away.

Remember, it’s natural to feel a dip in your mood after a great holiday, but with the right approach, you can get back on track with renewed vigor and a fresh perspective.

From Holiday to Everyday: Stay Refreshed with Wysa

Looking for more support on balancing work, life, and mental health? Consider downloading the Wysa app. Whether you’re looking to maintain the relaxation benefits of your recent holiday or need support in coping with the post-vacation blues, Wysa is here to help.

Engage with helpful conversation tech or connect with professional wellbeing coaches who can provide personalized strategies to enhance your mental health.

Don’t let the post-vacation slump affect your well-being. Let us assist you in finding your balance and extending the positive impacts of your time away.

Download the Wysa app for iPhone and Android today, or contact us to book a demo for your workplace.

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