Post holiday blues or vacation blues can turn even the best break into a depressing memory. Is there a helpful message behind such frustration? Yes, there is.
You and I know, holiday experiences can vary a lot. There are those we are glad to see the back off and those which leave us energised and refreshed.
Holiday blues can happen, too, when our break away hits a spot!
That kind of post holiday pain happens, when the time off filled a void, made us feel happy and alive – call it what you want – in a way that our lives simply don’t. If left unattended this pain can even grow into post holiday depression.
On the way back from my summer holiday I had a distinct sense that my toes were telling me to get ready for their barefoot beach walk.
We had visited a small island in the North Sea. At the beginning and the end of each day I had been walking barefoot along the almost empty beach.
My body had already got used to this delightful experience. Now, I started to have physical withdrawal symptoms. As the days passed my heart started to ache. And then my mind became more critical of the life I have made for myself.
When I was asked whether I, too, still think of the lovely time away, I heard myself say out load ‘No. I no longer think about it.’
I was shocked. It had sounded so harsh and so unfriendly – telling the other not to even go there!
The response had not been premeditated and it was not true, not literally.
I do think about the holiday, of course I do. And I do still yearn for it. But at that moment, I did not want to talk about it. Because, somehow it hurt too much and I had not yet figured out, what to do about it.
Switching from holiday mode to our ‘every day life’ is not always a smooth transition. We can feel apprehension, regrets, unhappiness, fear and depression. What to do?
If you, too, feel some kind of holiday or vacation blues, then what bothers you and leaves you unfulfilled?
I can think of at least two reasons:
a) We connect with something important that is missing in our lives.
b) We recognise, how far away our lives are from the dreams and hopes we once had.
Often when we talk about what we enjoyed during a holiday break, it is the sense of freedom to do more of what we want to do and to be who we are.
Personal freedom is linked to our sense of identity, which we often sacrifice (knowingly or unknowingly) in the rat race of our daily lives.
Personal identity is linked to our sense of purpose, our meaning and the meaning of the lives we live.
If you connect more with your sense of personal freedom, identity and purpose during your holiday and vacation break than during your life in general, then it is time to take stock and look at your life.
For me, the sand and sea water between my toes, the unrestricted sea and sky panorama, the sound and smell of the sea breeze, the solitary walks and the landscape around me – it all stands for freedom, peace and safety.
What are we going to do about our holiday blues?
What is possible and what is a pipe dream?
Running away, back to the beach, is not the answer (for me, right now).
Sometimes, hasty decisions can cause more trouble, than they are worth. Then again, sometimes taking risks is what is called for. And at other times, indecisiveness can be the better strategy.
It’s all so confusing and such a fuss – right?
Because if we don’t, then the holiday blues can keep us stuck in no man’s land. We cannot go back, and neither will we go forward. The blues will fester and can then turn into anxiety, depression and hopelessness.
What do you need to do more of or less of in order to regain more personal freedom, a sense of your identity and your purpose?
I know I must continue to slow down, have time out in nature, be close to water, avoid too much time in built-up areas. I will keep pondering. My hunch is, there is a lot more I can and need to do.
And yes, I have apologised for my rather abrupt claim to no longer think about the holiday. Sometimes it’s good to share the things we struggle with.
One year on
One year on I am not going on holiday. Instead I am preparing for more cancer treatment. I don’t mean to shock you, but life happens – to all of us. Did I pay enough attention then, to my own holiday blues?
It’s never too late, to get that extra bit of freedom and personal growth. Even if it is not all that we crave. Even if it is not a holiday.
Feel free to leave a comment. I am grateful and read them all.
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Karin Sieger is a UK-based psychotherapist and writer. All rights reserved © Copyright Karin Sieger. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Article do not substitute medical advice.