Vacation is crucial to work life balance. Yet, every time my family and I board a plane to return from vacation, I get a knot in my stomach. I love the restorative part of vacation, waking up to know I have no responsibilities and my only task is to figure out what enjoyable activity I will do each day. But vacation usually goes fast and then it’s time to return to reality.
I am fortunate to return to a career I enjoy. Many people hate their jobs, their bosses, their overall predicaments. I don’t. Yet, I dread going from the high of a vacation to the reality of a routine. I dread the post vacation blues.
So lately, I’ve been reading up on how to avoid post vacation blues, or even just end-of-summer blues. I have figured out a few things to do different this summer. Here is my plan and suggestions:
1. Know the benefit of a break. Whether you are job hunting, thinking of leaving your job or overwhelmed by your job, you need a break. Tell yourself it’s okay to take a vacation and it’s okay not to think about real life responsibilities for a short period of time. Repeat after me: It’s okay to chill out!
2. Make a game plan for the return. Spend some time coming up with a list of things that you can do after you return that will challenge you intellectually or physically. Those people who are constantly challenging themselves rarely appear to be depressed or negative, according to Andrew Griffiths and his blog on Inc. I signed up for an online writing webinar a few days after my return from vacation this year. It gives me a learning opportunity to look forward to that I can fit into my workday.
3. Do more of the things you enjoy. If it’s spending time with your family you enjoy, figure out how to do more of it. If it’s exercising you enjoy, get up early and go bike riding twice a week. If you enjoy working, that’s a good thing, too. What aspects of your job do you like most and how can you do more of those things? Griffiths say some people have a hobby they enjoy like fishing or gardening but the last time they did it was 10 years ago. The weeks following your vacation are the time to get back into something you enjoy doing. For me, I love reading. I just created a library of books on my iPad waiting to be read on a lounge chair on the beach over the upcoming weekends.
4. Ask someone “how can I help”? Commit to helping someone else either in your workplace, your business network, your community, your children’s school. If you want to feel uplifted, there is no better way.
5. Get in the right frame of mind. Sometimes we take ourselves far too seriously and focus on the piece of our lives that we find dull or difficult or exhausting.When you come back from vacation rested and happy, you can use that as motivation to re-examine your work life balance and your outlook. What are the things that made you happy on vacation — sleeping in, touring museums, taking hikes, eating at new restaurants? All those things can be done wherever you live. You just have to make the effort to do them.
6. Change up your routine. During your first week back from vacation, take a new route to work, sit in a different chair at the dinner table or eat lunch with a different crowd. Small changes often are enough to renew our zest for life.
Vacations are fun because they offer a break from the tedium and familiarity of life, but if you’re miserable being at work or at home, you may want to consider making big changes to feel happier — or just start planning your next vacation!