Have you ever returned from a holiday, only to feel crushed by reality? Don’t worry: you’re not alone. In fact, according to the experts, this is common, and there are ways to counter it.
You may think “post travel depression” is just a way to brag on social media about your latest boozing and cruising exploits, but guess what – it’s a thing.
DMARGE recently spoke to The Australian Psychology Society’s President, Tamara Cavenett, who told us, though “post holiday depression” is not a clinical term, it is “completely normal to experience a dip in your mood after a holiday.”
I think I am experiencing post-Europe depression…..
— Maxine (@maxine_colvin) April 28, 2016
As one Reddit user, who recently shared their experience of “post-travel depression” put it: “I just had the best week of my entire life in Paris… Arrived on Friday and I’m still super depressed about coming back and having to work again.”
“I’ve been planning this trip for the past 6 months and everything went perfectly! But now, I fill emptiness in my heart as I can’t stop thinking about how much I would enjoy having these experiences every month for the rest of my life.”
Before you break out the world’s smallest violin listen to this: Ms Cavenett, who is a clinical psychologist, told DMARGE: “For anyone who is currently experiencing a mental health issue it could actually potentially turn into depression when you get back from a holiday.”
Why? “Because a holiday is often something you’ve really been looking forward to. When you’re there you’re often in a rush; being stimulated by a range of different colours, places and social connections.”
“Losing all that and then returning back to your quiet apartment by yourself, going to the job that you’ve done before is a stark contrast.”
“A lot of people in that instance feel quite sad because they’ve essentially returned to the monotony of everyday life. It’s certainly something people can clinically experience if they already have a pre-existing mental health condition, but that would be in the context of other issues.”
“I think that little mood dip when you lose all of that can be quite hard. The other element of returning from holidays often is that a lot of people will actually put it on a credit card or will have spent more than they intended so they’re back in the mode of either saving for the next one or having to pay the price for the holiday they just went on.”
bc post-Europe depression pic.twitter.com/GC5RrwVlTT
— Mary Jo McBride (@maryjomcbride) October 17, 2016
“When you’re on a holiday you’re either in a group or you’re staying with other people or you’re on tours and all of those provide large social moments.”
“The brain is most stimulated by social activity, so when you return back to your house and you’re having a lot less social interaction, from a brain stimuli point of view that can be quite disconcerting.”
Post europe depression is hitting hard
— María (@_mariafrios) June 29, 2016
Well, that’s “post travel depression” defined then. But what can you do about it? According to Ms Cavenett, you should keep a healthy social life when you get back, look after yourself and plot your next getaway. You can also try to maintain a good sleep pattern while you’re away, but that is unlikely for most of us.
that post travel depression is hittin rn. I miss my friends <\3
— sofeeyahh (@whatsofi) October 11, 2022
“When you’re on holiday, I usually say to most people: ‘Try and keep your sleep regulated.’ It’s even better if you can keep it regulated on your home destination rather than where you are (though it can be difficult with time zone changes).”
“That can be really important because the sleep disturbance that comes with travel can often be one of the triggers for something like this [‘post travel depression’] because you are more tired. I often encourage people to put a few things on the horizon for when they come back – a lot of people could start planning their next event or their next holiday.”
Planning your next holiday can take away from that thing [of feeling sad] and general self-care (eating healthy, exercising, getting your sleep, not drinking too much alcohol) when you get back is a good idea too, as is “making sure your social interaction on your return isn’t too low,” Ms Cavenett told DMARGE.
She also pointed out that in the wake of the last few travel-restricted years, “post-travel depression” may be felt more widely because “finally getting back to travel felt like such a huge thing” and because a lot of us now work from home and are less social than we used to be.
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