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Managing the post vacation blues

As you sit by your desk, checking your emails distractedly, postponing the most demanding answers and jumping from one task to another, you get up often and seemed possessed by a strange feeling, between boredom and restlessness. In addition, you are not able to concentrate, you are forgetful and sleep poorly. Most probably, you blame yourself, thinking of the duties that you left there to await you for this month of January, the month of good intentions.

Science, however, comes to the rescue: what you experience is not only a lack of motivation, but rather the typical stress of return, also known as the post-vacation blues, which in the most serious cases can turn into a real syndrome, with symptoms such as fatigue, nervousness, insomnia and mild depression.

The post-vacation blues hit hard
If it is true that those who travel are more empathetic and open, and those who take at least three weeks of vacation a year see their life expectancy increase, it is useful to learn to deal with the discomfort caused by returning to the rhythms of everyday life, and some tips can be easily put into practice.

Stress, the usual suspect

What are we talking about when we talk about stress? Stress - which we often refer to improperly - is a complex syndrome that involves an adaptation reaction in the individual. The term was first used in 1935 by the Austrian physician Hans Selye, who borrowed it from the field of metallurgy, where it indicated the effect of great pressure on materials.
What is stress?
In layman’s term, stress is the reaction of the human brain following a series of stimuli, the set of those inner responses with a physiological effect that each individual develops with respect to the environment.

The triggering factors can be multiple, and not necessarily negative ones. Even intense joy or an extremely pleasant feeling produce an adaptive response in people: what unites heterogeneous stimuli is therefore their intensity.

From holiday to everyday life

Upon returning from work, our organism is under stress because it has to respond to multiple stresses through a process of adaptation. To facilitate its task, a good starting point is to build a transitioning routine, from pleasant holiday habits to the most challenging ones of everyday life, thus achieving a smooth transition to work and school activities.
Give yourself some time to get back to routine
For example, taking a plane on Sunday evening to enjoy the holiday until the last minute and run to the office on Monday morning might not be the best of ideas.

Better to plan an early return a few days before you first workday.

If you’ve been exercising while on holiday, it's a good idea to keep on, perhaps alternating outdoor walks - which, despite the harsh climate, are confirmed to be a healthy habit - with regular indoor training. For those who attend a gym, the advice is to start training again immediately, with a simple program at first, to be then gradually increased, perhaps planning carefully the sports objectives and the stages necessary to achieve them.

Those who want to try a new sport can instead prepare for it by practicing family activities that gently lead the body and mind to the challenge of a new discipline.

Working out on a rower is fantastic to relax your mind and train your body
In this transitioning phase, sleep and nutrition are equally important. Sleeping at regular times is essential to feel good. Before going to bed, the use of technological devices, which intensely stimulate the brain and affects the sleep process, is forbidden; it’s rather ideal to read a good book or a magazine. Finally, focus on nutrition, choosing fresh ingredients, rich in vitamins and with the right amount of carbohydrates, and eating light meals, alternating them with snacks.

Building a habit made of wellness practices, in addition to facilitating post-vacation blues management, allows you to trigger a virtuous circle.

You will benefit from it for a long time, which will help you when you have to face the next, inevitable stress that awaits your body: the change of season, which you must find with a body and mind ready to choose the destination of your next holiday!
Stay positive, plan your next holiday!

Tips to better deal with post-vacation blues

Let's summarize these main tips, useful not only for better post-vacation blues management, but to start the year with determination and renewed vigour:

  • Have a gradual return from your holidays, allowing yourself a few days in a familiar environment to adjust to the daily routine
  • Maintain some of the healthy habits started during the holidays, especially those pertaining to physical activity
  • Refrain from using electronic devices - where possible, especially before bedtime.
  • Focus on nutrition, eating healthy food and preferring more light meals to a few hearty ones

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