Who likes to return from vacation? It can be brutal. We’re bummed out, tired, overwhelmed, and wondering why we even went in the first place. And though we can’t exactly make it easy, there are things to avoid to help get you back to regularly scheduled programming. Here are 6 things NOT to do when you return from vacation. And what you can do instead!
Don’t Feel Bad for Feeling Bad
When we return from vacation, we often feel crappy, bummed, lonesome for our travel buddies, and not quite ready to take on the world. How did our trip go by so fast? Is it really time for “real life” again? We’re all up in our feelings. And guess what? It’s all good! It’s okay to want to hop right back on the plane and start over. And it’s okay to wonder why you even went in the first place because this sucks. But here’s the thing: sometimes we just have to let the feelings pass. And they will.
Give yourself a day to adjust guilt-free. Let reality set in. Don’t make yourself feel worse by feeling bad for feeling down. It’s part of the process and the truth is: you wouldn’t feel bad if it wasn’t an incredible trip.
Couple things to boost your mood:
- Check out all your photos and videos.
- Catch up on your TV shows.
- Read a book.
- Get outside and take a walk.
- Order takeout—something you love and rarely get.
- Take a bath or hot shower.
- Put on your comfiest sweats, cozy socks, and take a nap.
- More ideas.
Don’t Expect to Get ALL the Things Done
I used to do this. I’d think about everything I was going to accomplish when I got home from vacation. Grocery store, prep for the week, laundry (even put it away), organize, and be a fully functioning human. Mistake. Between the combination of being bummed out and the long list of to do’s, I’d get stuck and feel even worse.
Now, do you want to come home and be an actual potato? No, probably not. But do you want an entire list of things to accomplish as you’re trying to adjust? Also no. Start small. Pick one or two things to check off your list the first day back. Pick up some groceries and go through all the mail. Do a load of laundry and put it away (don’t tell me that’s not two tasks.) Whatever works for you that feels attainable. Maybe accomplishing a couple of things leads to getting even more done. If so, great! But don’t expect it.
Tip: PRE-PREPARE as much as you can.
Have your house cleaned before you go. Prepare a freezer meal or two that’s easy to pull out when you get home. Don’t have additional laundry waiting that only adds to what you have from vacation. The more upfront work you do, the less overwhelmed you’re going to feel when you get back. Get the full rundown in How to Prepare for Vacation.
Don’t Stay on the Vacation Sleep Schedule
One of the best things about vacation? No annoying sound coming out of your phone before the sun comes up. And no lingering feeling at night that you’ve got to get to bed. Our sleep schedule is a little bit out a whack on vacation and it’s all great and fun until you come home and are awake in bed at midnight calculating how much sleep you are going to get every time you check the clock.
Adjust in small increments.
When I return from vacation, I always ease back into my sleep schedule by going to bed when I normally would and allowing myself an extra hour of sleep. This avoids feeling stressed about needing to fall asleep immediately. Plus, I’m in a better mood, get more work done, feel more energized and so on. Every morning after that, my alarm is set 15-30 minutes earlier until I am back to my routine. Simple and effective.
Don’t Skip Your Morning Routine
Morning routines are all the rage. And whether it’s intentional or not, we all have one. Wake up, drink coffee, listen to music, get ready for work, leave the house by 8:00. You get it. But after vacation, we may feel the urge to skip our morning routine altogether. We’ll want to lay in bed longer, scroll Instagram, and drown in our sorrows. But that all leads to an unproductive, overwhelming day.
The key is to find something that gets your routine in motion. Figure out something you do in the morning on a consistent basis that will trigger your brain into production mode. It doesn’t have to be your typical “first step,” but it does have to be a part of your routine that you really enjoy.
- Watch your morning show.
- Listen to music or a certain podcast.
- Walk the dog.
- Cook breakfast.
- Read a book or the news.
Anything that feels “normal.” Your body will react and respond as soon as you start. For me, it’s a podcast. It’s something I put on and my mind and body immediately respond with it’s time to get ready for work. Just the pre-music before it starts switches something in my brain. Before I know it, I’m on auto-pilot getting all my usual things in order.
Don’t Pack Your Upcoming Week with Events
This took me some time to learn. I used to think my return from vacation meant going all in and packing my schedule—see my friends, go out to eat, and do every fun thing I can think of to remind myself that I can have just as good a time at home as I can on vacation. All wrong.
You’re going to need some rest.
You know the saying, I need a vacation from my vacation. Most people are trying to be witty when they say that, but it’s true. You need time to unwind and get into the groove. My first week back, I do my best to keep a clear schedule. Heading out to a bunch of events is exhausting! Your friends can see you and hear all about your trip next week when you feel like reality isn’t the kiss of death anymore.
Don’t Leave Every Bit of Work for “Monday Morning”
I don’t check emails on vacation. I choose for that time to be for me and there’s a reason I have days off—to enjoy them. But soon after I return home from vacation, I do like to bite the bullet and see what my inbox looks like. I do this for a couple of reasons:
- To avoid mind games; if I don’t check what’s happening with work, I start to make things up in my head. Kind of like when you know you spent too much money so you avoid checking your bank account. Same with my inbox! But more often than not, when I do check it, it all ends up being just fine and I avoid any predetermined panics.
- To set myself up for success; I don’t check my inbox with the intention of taking action on anything. It’s basically a sift through to know what I will be walking into the next day/week. I can determine immediate needs and those that can wait until later in the week. If I know what to expect, I am going to have a much better first day back than turning on my computer (probably in an anxiety-ridden panic) and trying to get everything done at once.
And a TIP: Block your first morning off from any meetings. Give yourself a chunk of white space to catch up and ease back in.
DO Keep It Simple
Your return from vacation can be tough, but it’s not impossible to quickly get back on track. We just have to keep everything simple and understand that life might not operate just as it does when we are in the groove. Do what you can, catch up, and know “normal life” is just around the corner.