Post Vacation Depression: When Too Much Happy Leaves You Sad
Vacations are often planned months (if not years) in advance. Much time and thought is put into the details. There is lodging, packing, meal planning, area google searches, plane tickets, and transportation to be sorted out. In addition to all of the logistical planning that must take place, there is a fair amount of emotional excitement that typically goes into a vacation. The thrilling anticipation of an upcoming holiday or vacation is destined to be horribly matched with its counterpart, a sadness so surreal you won’t understand what has hit you. This Post Vacation Depression, or PVD, is the real deal. After experiencing the highs that come with family, fun, and fascination, the lows that follow are seriously sad. Numbness, feelings of isolation, exhaustion, anxiety about returning to work, easy distractibility, and binge eating are all likely side effects of PVD.
WHAT IS PVD
This sadness is much akin to the devastating blow one feels the day after the NKOTB concert you’ve been planning with girlfriends for over a year. It could also feel like that time your child threw up on your favorite piece of furniture exactly one day after it was purchased. Post Vacation Depression is marked with a despair so desperate you’ll want to sit on the couch and cry. For days. Perhaps the time away from home was spent at an all-inclusive resort or at a campsite. If so, one may not be used to carrying the daily mundane things such as car keys, a purse, a metro card, or a diaper bag. Going to the grocery store in a post vacation haze might leave you stranded at the checkout without a credit card, or showing up to a team meeting without so much as a pen. Instead of wallowing in these feelings of great sadness, channel that energy into reliving the happy moments that left you on such a downward spiral. Allow the little memories to transform the day into the vacation that is so badly missed.
In a day of digital where all of our memories are stored in an app or on a hard drive, go old school and print photos. Go back to circa 1994, before you could tweet, snap, and Insta your moments, and pretend these printed photographic delights are your only way to show the world what you have done. Choose a few favorite photos to display in your house or office. If you don’t already have a fun display system in place, perhaps now is the time to make an investment. Consider it a much earned PVD present for one.
No matter who you’re missing, they would love to receive a handwritten and heartfelt letter. Write to them and tell them about your favorite memory from vacation. If you have a little one that isn’t yet writing, have them draw a picture from the vacation and dictate their story. Another idea is to collect postcards from souvenir shops during your travels and then use the postcards to write letters once back home. There is no doubt that the breathtaking photos on the front of postcards will take you back to the happiness of your trip and help you relive your magic moments. If you aren’t willing to part with the postcards once at home, no worries. Add them to your picture display instead!
MAKE A PHOTO BOOK
What better way to preserve your memories and document your journey than with a book of stunning photos that detail your favorite memories? The best part is that you can do this as a family and get everyone involved. Don’t stop at photos alone! Be sure to add in quotes from family members and include funny or unplanned moments. Other things to add include itineraries, menus, translations (if your visit included a second language), photos of ticket stubs, and travel information. And please don’t let these photo books sit on a shelf! Look at these photo books as a family and reminisce about a better day and time.
PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP
Nothing gets you out of a PVD rut quite like setting your sights on your next trip. Be it a big or small destination, make your countdown and get your thinking on. By setting sights on another holiday, the energy otherwise used for sadness is transferred into productive planning. Roll a dice, close your eyes and point to a map, or use logic in choosing the next trip. Just pick!
WANDERLUST IN A NEARBY NEIGHBORHOOD
Thankfully, one comes back from each trip or new destination with a renewed sense of perspective. One’s eyes are a little bit wider, their horizons broadened, and their palettes more refined than before they left. Take the adventurous spirit that traveling lay the groundwork for, and bring it to the streets nearest you! Pretend you are a tourist in the very zip code you live in and explore, explore, explore.
MORE WAYS TO FIGHT POST VACATION DEPRESSION
- Savor the souvenirs: Although some people want to leave their trip with nothing more than the memories of bliss, others need a more tangible connection to guide them back to the promised land. For that reason, souvenir shops make a killing off of your nostalgia and vacationers pay extra for their overstuffed suitcases to fit under the belly of a jet. From mugs to key chains, trinkets to t-shirts, souvenirs are a lucrative business for those in tourist destinations.
- Share stories from your vacation: Plain and simple. No equipment needed and you set the timeframe! This could be a dinner conversation or a nighttime routine. Whether you are talking to the family that shared your trip, a co-worker that is already sick of hearing about it, or the once-chance encounter with a grocer, share the best memories and feel the happiness that comes along with the stories.
- Create a memory jar: Write down the memories and stories that were most loved. Share them and review them as a family as often as possible, even using the memory jar as a way to get out of a mid-week hump in the months that follow.
- Much like little ones like to play doctor or grocery store, they are fully capable of playing travel agent, hotel manager, or boat cruise captain. Once they have their props stocked from vacation, get home and find a location to store them. If on a vacation with children, they will likely seek out every trinkety map and travel brochure from a hotel lobby. Don’t fight it, embrace it. Let them choose a few from each stop and have a designated place to put them until back home. As you are on your trip, collect your collectibles along the way. Think: Trolly guides, state maps from hotel lobbies, pizza coupons from the front desk, keychains, stuffed animals that are representative of your destination.
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