Post-holiday fatigue is real and here's how you can recover from it

The last thing you need is a vacation from your vacation.

30 April, 2024
Post-holiday fatigue is real and here's how you can recover from it

You spent weeks planning that dream holiday that you so badly wanted to go for. Mainly because you couldn’t remember the last time you got to kick back and relax. But no matter how excited you are about taking that trip, there’s a good chance you will end up feeling exhausted after your vacation. Although a completely normal feeling, there are ways to avoid this. We spoke to two mental health experts to uncover the reasons behind post-holiday fatigue and here’s how you can cope with it. 

You’re thinking a lot when you’re on holiday

If there’s one thing we humans love, it’s following our routine. When we have a routine, we spend less time and energy deciding what to do, when to do it, and where to do it, among other things. This is why going on a vacation feels so tiring because there is so much planning involved—where you eat, where you stay, your itinerary, how much time you’ll spend, and whatnot. This can result in bad planning and an overloaded itinerary. You need to understand what you’re looking for in a vacation and plan smartly. Don’t just spend your money wisely, but be sure to get your time’s worth as well. 

Transition stress

If we love our routine, it’s natural to dislike change. Transitioning from a carefree mindset to a structured routine can be stressful as it requires you to fully adjust your mindset and priorities, which can be very mentally taxing. This sudden loss of freedom (something that was present during your vacation) can be constraining and oppressive. Furthermore, the reality check when you come back is one that no one likes.

Social exhaustion

While extremely enjoyable, holidays can involve a lot of social interaction. It could be strangers in a new place, your friends, and relatives (if it’s a wedding or a vacation with your extended family). It can be very draining for people, who value individual time and solitude, leaving them exhausted and emotionally depleted. 

Workload overload

Returning to work after a long holiday often means having to face a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. When you come back, you have to put in extra effort to compensate for your absence and deal with the pressures of catching up. This applies to your non-professional life too as you’ve got to clean the house, wash your clothes, and do other mundane tasks. 

Unable to fully disconnect

When you’re on holiday, the inability to fully disconnect can be very problematic. You take work with you on a holiday because you just can’t switch off. Not to mention the struggle to draw boundaries that your co-workers often take advantage of. This is bound to irritate you when you get back, making you feel like you haven't truly had a vacation.

How to deal with post-vacation fatigue? 

You can’t stop travelling. But what you can do is plan a gradual return to work. Just because you had 10 days of leave, doesn’t mean that the 11th day has to be exhaustive. One of the main reasons why people feel tired after a vacation is because they dive head-on into their tasks and push themselves back to their normal routine. It is important to remember that you are transitioning from a relaxed vacation mindset to a more demanding and responsible environment. Take things slow and acclimatise your resumption back to the office. When you do go back, don’t plan a ton of meetings on day one (that’s if it’s in your control), and keep things light to get into the groove of things.

Prioritise tasks in order of urgency and sensitivity and delegate instead of trying to do everything by yourself. Another corrective measure is to set boundaries, switch off from work, and enjoy the present. Make the most of what you’re doing rather than think about what it’s going to be like when you go back.

You never really got to relax if you were constantly thinking about resuming work and meeting deadlines. Communicate with your friends, family, and colleagues (an out-of-office email should make the message loud and clear) that you will be unavailable. This will keep you from over-committing to things, even more so at a time when you’re not supposed to. 

To manage a heavy workload at home, ensure your home is spick and span and complete any pending tasks and chores before you leave for your vacation. It’s easier said than done as you’ll be busy planning and packing a day or two before, but do your very best to clean, and make your home as welcoming a space as possible to return to.

Inputs by Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai, and Sherene Aftab, psychologist & founder Serene Hour Counselling and Career Advice Consultancy

Lead image credits: Netflix

Also read: Here's how vacations can make or break your relationship

Also read: Relationship problems that can arise during the holidays and how you can deal with them