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How to combat post-holiday blues

Expert tips on how to deal with back-to-reality depression.

Expert tips on how to deal with back-to-reality depression.

You’re sitting at your work desk. There’s a stack of paperwork the size of Kilimanjaro and you have thousands of unread emails to peruse. The tan lines obtained from fun in the sun in Majorca are slowly fading away as is your cheerful post-holiday demeanour.

You already feel sad, teary, flat, unmotivated, nostalgic, restless and fatigued and it has only been a few days back at the office.

In short, you have a bout of post-holiday blues.

“Returning from a holiday to the reality of day-to-day life and the routine that goes with it can trigger post-holiday blues for some people,” says clinical psychologist, Dr Melissa Keogh.

However, there are ways to combat the stark reality of returning from a dream holiday.

1.Recognise the triggers

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The first step, according to Dr Keogh, is to learn the difference between post-holiday blues and clinical depression.

“Unlike clinical depression, the symptoms of post-holiday blues are likely to pass within a few days and will typically not interfere significantly with the person’s overall ability to function at work or at home,” she says.

Clinical Psychologist, Sally-Anne McCormack seems to agree.

“If feelings of being overwhelmed are lasting longer than a week or so, it’s time to seek professional help,” she says. “Coming back from holidays may have pushed underlying issues to the surface that need to be addressed.”

Several symptoms of clinical depression, as advised by Dr Keogh, include having trouble concentrating, a lack of sleep and/or appetite, withdrawing from family and friends or missing work.

3. Accept, acknowledge and prepare

These next steps, according to McCormack, should begin on the flight.

“Once you’ve picked up your bags from the carousel, driven home in traffic and set about getting your day-to-day in order, the post-holiday blues could already be sinking in,” she says. “But if you accept the fact that you will feel certain emotions it becomes easier to deal with and prepare for.”

Acceptance and acknowledgement of the post-holiday blues will help you put a plan of attack in place.

“You’ll know how to address the problem, what symptoms you may experience and how best to tackle them,” McCormack says.

3. Don’t leave the holiday at the beach

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Maybe take up a cooking class to relive the holiday flavours you loved so much.

It is also important, according to Dr Keogh, to incorporate pleasurable experiences in our day-to-day routine.

“In particular, incorporating any aspects of your holiday that you really loved that you can also do at home, like going to the beach or having a massage,” says Dr Keogh. “If you really enjoyed the food from another country, consider doing a cooking class or purchasing a recipe book of meals from that region. It is very important to have things to look forward to when you get back.”

Slide show evenings, that relive the glory moments of your holiday can also help.

4. Delay reality

Both experts advise that easing back into work could also help alleviate the blues.

“Perhaps consider starting back mid week or on a Friday,” says Dr Keogh. “Allow enough time to catch up on sleep before returning to the office or study. Fatigue and jet lag can also contribute to the blues.”

“It’s acknowledging your own pace and your own abilities,” says McCormack. “Your body is telling you something. Maybe its time to acknowledge that we all need to take our foot off the accelerator.”

Feeling it’s a little more than the blues? Contact the APS Find a Psychologists Service on the toll free number 1800 333 497.

Or conduct your own search on the APS website.

How do you tackle the post-holiday blues?