Don’t let that overflowing inbox steal your vacation glow!
Summer just gasped its last breath and your long anticipated vacation is now truly over. If you’re like most people, instead of feeling relaxed and rested post-vacation, you’re nursing a case of the “re-entry blues.”
You are not alone! You likely worked crazy hours before you departed and returned to an inbox and to-do list that multiplied like rabbits … your feelings of bliss quickly zapped by a reality check of re-entry stress waiting to welcome you home.
The hard truth to face is — you simply can’t expect one vacation to erase months (or years) of poor self-care, mounting stress, prickly bosses, or troubled relationships. That’s a set-up for a let down! And according to happiness expert, Shawn Achor in HBR, vacations do not necessarily make you happier.
But don’t despair, you can still capture the renewing power of your time away.
Here are 5 ways to hold on to vacation happiness and recover from post-vacay “re-entry blues:”
1. Adjust your expectations
If you felt a depletion of your mind, body, or spirit before you left, it’s likely you’ll need more than that one string of days off to recharge back to your full power. Set a more realistic expectation for your post-vacation gains. Feeling even 10-20 percent more energized or less stressed is worth celebrating, and building on.
2. Set a post-vacation self-care goal
When you stepped away from the your regular hectic routine, what were you craving most? More sleep, time in nature, variety in your diet, junk novel time, sharing laughs with friends, or uninterrupted conversation with your partner? Commit to one small tweak in your back-to-work life that keeps you from feeling so depleted prior to the next vacation. When you put your mind to it, you can get in bed 15 minutes earlier, stock up on nutritious snacks, or make date night non-negotiable going forward.
Tweaking one tiny habit can buy you more energy and smiles in a big way!
3. Capture your vacation wisdom before you dive back into reality
What became more important or less important when you had some distance? Write those insights down before they get lost in the shuffle of returning to business as usual. Your renewed perspective is a powerful antidote to the daily grind.
How can you tweak your calendar and choices to better reflect your real priorities? I’ll bet you can strike something off your mindless worry list or erase some false urgency you’ve used to run yourself ragged. Use your renewed wisdom! Then schedule a meeting with yourself in two weeks to check in and hold yourself accountable to behaving your way into your healthy perspective.
4. Hit replay
Use whatever pictures, kitschy souvenirs, or music you can to re-live your happy memories. Who cares if you have a new hula bobble head atop your stack of office files? The more you revisit, savor, and feel gratitude for the positive feelings you felt on vacation, the more stress-resilient your brain becomes. Plan a themed family dinner in two weeks to re-ignite the mood. Positivity takes practice.
5. Schedule your next vacation NOW!
Block time off on your calendar, even if only a long weekend. (Doing this is my post-vacation non-negotiable ritual!)
Of course, the point is not to live a crazed life between vacations — that’s why doing the four tips above is critical. But no doubt, you need more regular breaks to energize your mind, body, and spirit. Despite all the research proving the value of time off, unused vacation days are at a 40-year high. Commit now and enjoy the planning and anticipation of your next great escape.
When you head out next time, be sure to repeat what went well on this last trip and upgrade what didn’t.
Also, treat yourself to an extra day off before re-entry next time. You will thank yourself for the extra time to decompression and energetically reacclimatize. Enjoy the process of slowly unpacking, getting the laundry done, and indulge in a little down time before hitting the overflowing inbox.
Now … take a deep breath (or three), put on some music, shake off the gloom and reclaim your bliss!