Have you ever experienced coming back from a vacation feeling depressed? I have. Since 2005. And it’s still happening in 2017.
I have just returned from my hometown three days ago. My energy has been very low since my return to Singapore. I didn’t have much appetite nor enthusiasm. My mind kept on playing flashbacks of events that occurred during my time in my hometown. I felt tired most of the time. And I felt lonely in my rented apartment room when I was unpacking, doing housekeeping and clearing my emails.
A series of never-ending questions haunted me. Did I make a correct decision moving to Singapore? Did I make a right career switch decision? Will my life be better this year? What should I do with my life? Which dream should I prioritise? And other questions that made me more depressed the more I entertain my thoughts.
In addition, I developed an indifference towards a lot of things around me. Nothing seemed to matter except reminiscing about the holiday and eating food I brought from hometown.
I decided to avoid staying alone inside my apartment room. I took my keys and went to my now-husband workplace. And things start to look brighter.
I moved to Singapore in July 2005, when I started university education in NTU. Similar to other foreign freshmen, I felt homesick often. I went home during school breaks and came back feeling sad most of the time. The only exception was the time my Year 2 started, I felt so motivated to study well that I couldn’t wait for school to start.
During my working time, I had many overseas trips as well as hometown trips. The weekend overseas trip didn’t generate too much post-holiday blues, but trips that lasted more than 3 days generally hit me pretty hard with the blues. The worst blues were those that came after my trips to Indonesia. I love my country too much, and leaving my country brings an ache to my heart.
During those hard times, I often asked myself why I still stay in Singapore if the country didn’t give me happiness. I also asked myself why I stay in my workplace if I didn’t like the job. I guess this post-holiday blues might play a part in many of my decisions to switch jobs in the past.
Shaking off the post-holiday blues
Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to fight post-holiday blues. These tips have helped me ease back into the usual routine.
1. Make goals and a list of things to do to achieve those goals. I am a goal-oriented person so I make goals and lists all the time. This exercise helps me focus on the future instead of the past. These goals should be my own life ambition, not some arbitrary and uninspiring goals that won’t give me the push.
2. Schedule my calendar and get busy. Being alone in apartment room after a holiday is downright depressing. Holidays are usually tight-packed with activities, and being at home with nothing to do creates a huge void. I try to spend the evening outside, meeting and catching up with friends, for at least 3 days or until the blues fade away. During the day, I force myself to be busy with something.
3. Eat food I brought from holiday. In a way, this method helps me save money on food. In another way, it makes me feel I’m still on holiday.
4. Allow at least 1 day before going back to office/workplace. Seriously, don’t go back to work the day after you arrive back at home from a long holiday. You might lose it and hand in your resignation letter on that day.
5. Post it or write about it. Posting in social media or blog could be therapeutic when you suffer from post-holiday blues. Even though some might think you’re showing off, fret not. Those who matter don’t mind and would rejoice with you.
6. Plan the next getaway. This is the easiest way out, plan for a trip in the near future and get excited about it.
7. Investigate life choices. Sometimes, my soul-sucking job amplified the blues, but not all the times. Every once in a while, we need to investigate our life choices and change course when necessary.
8. Let time heals. Time heals almost everything, no doubt about that.
9. Be grateful. Lastly, remember that post-holiday blues is a privilege, not a curse. Not everyone has the luxury to travel like you do. So, do not throw tantrums to those who were being unkind to you after you come back.
Post-holiday blues is part and parcel of traveling, you just have to deal with it when it comes. If you are suffering from it, don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it will get better in time. Don’t let the syndrome stop you from traveling, because what you gain from travel is worth much more than the blues that come after it.