Post-Vacation Blues

Post-Vacation BluesPost-Vacation Blues

No one enjoys going back to the grindstone after a fun-filled vacation.

Doctors do not officially have a name for this phenomenon and it is not included in the official journals of mental disorders. But it has been unofficially called “back-to-work blues” or “post-vacation hangover”.

For many, the holiday season is like a dream world and hopefully vacationers have a good dream, but it is a dream that often ceases literally overnight. There is a real sense of loss that comes with this transition that makes most people morose. Even if the holiday does not meet expectations, they still may not be happy about getting back to work and away from family and friends.

“The general feeling of reluctance towards the end of a joyous period and return to the humdrum everyday life is natural, and is seen among all people in all nations,” says Mohsen Paknejad, psychologist and teaching assistant at the University of Tehran in an article in the Persian weekly ‘Tejarat-e Farda’.

“Coming out of the holiday mood is normally considered a source of stress across the world,” Paknejad maintains. This is particularly so among working or studying adults.

“Returning from holidays can also leave one feeling let down, as is seen every year with a lot more calls to the crisis line and a higher number of deaths,” says Dr. Randy Hillard, a professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University.

A person may suffer from post-vacation blues after returning home or to a normal routine from a long vacation, especially a pleasurable one. The longer a trip lasts, the more intense the “blue mood” may be.

The phenomenon has also become the butt of jokes and comic animations.

Paknejad believes that social networks are helping ease people’s return to the daily grind. Talking about the end of holidays in the form of jokes, illustrations, and hyperbolic descriptions provides people with a feeling of assurance that they are not the only ones feeling miserable.

In general, post-vacation blues do wear off over time. It usually takes a few days, but in extreme cases it can last for several weeks. Faster ways of treating post-vacation blues is for the person to share their experiences with family and friends, or to look at photos and souvenirs, or even plan the next trip.

  Extended Holidays

In order for families to stagger their holiday time throughout the year, the working system would have to become more flexible. Some countries, including Iran, have rather lengthy holidays (such as the two-week Iranian New Year holiday, Norouz), leaving little time for short additional vacations the rest of the year.

The notion that Iranians enjoy a large number of days off work is wrong. In a report on Dana News Agency, a comparison between the non-working days in various countries revealed that the US with 114 non-working days tops the list. Germany, the UAE, and Japan are next with 113, 110, and 108 days respectively. Iran has only 61 official days off.

However, these numbers are a total sum of national holidays and non-working days. It should be mentioned that although Iran’s national holidays (22 days) exceed those in other countries like the US, Germany, and Japan (17 days) and the UAE (13 days), Iran has shorter weekends (Fridays) as official non-working days, which bring the total non-working days to a lower number.

  Short Breaks Better

Global findings suggest that people derive more happiness from two or more short breaks spread throughout the year, than from having just a single long holiday once a year.

Paknejad believes several managerial, policy and individual measures could be taken to reduce post-holiday stress. Taking an extra day off to recuperate after a long journey or for personal work, preparing well for the daily schedules, more frequent short breaks in the national calendar and devising post-holiday programs (such as the New Year celebrations) by managers could help reduce back-to-work blues.

Various studies have concluded that positive effects of a holiday do not last very long and therefore long holidays are not necessarily good for the general wellbeing. They also indicate that people who suffer from burnout returned to pre-vacation levels within three to four weeks after the respite from work had ended.