Vacation’s over, now what? How to survive the post-holiday blues

2018-01-15 07:47 - Anje Rautenbach
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Photo: iStock

Cape Town - Have you been dragging your feet out of bed this week, kicking, screaming with inner-monologues of responsibility vs just staying at home and pulling the covers over your face again?

It’s understandable.

All of the sudden alarms beep in the morning again, snooze buttons get the finger, your morning coffee is earlier, that novel you’ve been reading is now a stack of reports, sunglasses are now computer glasses, lunch is not made on a fire anymore and when the heatwave drop it like it’s hot, a midday swim session is not an option.

ALSO SEE: 2018 in Public Holidays: Do your leave planning like a pro

Going back to work is not for the faint-hearted.

But it is unavoidable.

First of all, you need to know that you are not alone; millions of other South Africans are also facing PHB (Post-Holiday Blues). Support is out there. You’ll be fine. This too shall pass.

Second of all, before we get to the tips on how to beat the post-holiday blues, there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to survive the work place without getting fired before your next vacation. All these guidelines depend on your work environment but most tips are applicable to 90% of the South African work force.

  • Dress appropriately. Bikinis, sarongs, flip flops and dressing in swim shorts while being shirtless are not an option (unless you are a lifeguard).
  • Fires are not allowed, especially when you work in an office environment. If you crave a boerie, rather meal prep at your house.
  • It is expected that you stick to your working hours. Late arrivals and early departures are only applicable to flights.
  • Afternoon naps are not an option. Red bull is an alternative.
  • The fish tank in your office building is not for fishing; please leave all fishing rods at home.
  • When it comes to your seating arrangements please keep in mind that you can’t replace your office chair with a camping chair. The comfort of your chair is now synonymous with back support, not general comfort.
  • It’s a new year but nothing has changed; egg sandwiches still won’t get the stamp – or the smell – of approval.
  • Your drink options include: water, coffee, tea, soft drinks, juice and smoothies. Beer is unfortunately unacceptable. Disguising your beer in a different container is frowned upon.
  • Your colleagues are not waiters, masseuses or bartenders. If you see one of them walking around with a cup of coffee it is not your drink order.
  • Answering phones is now a priority – you can’t screen business calls, unplug the landline or switch off your work phone (also, remember to bring your charger).
  • When the weather is ‘just right’ for a watersport activity or for paragliding or for sun tanning, please stay seated and wait for the weekend.
  • Tents can’t double as a privacy setting in the office.
  • Unfortunately it is not bring-your-dog-to-work-day and unfortunately it will never be (if you are allowed to bring your pet to work please tell us where to apply, thank you).

Tips on how to survive the post-holiday blues

Get outside

Chances are that you’ve spent a lot of time outside during your vacation. Feed your brain with some fresh air, have your lunch outside the office building, take walks after work and crack a window.

Plan your next break

If life gives you holiday lemons, you make some weekend lemonade. Plan your next break, whether it’s for a weekend or a long weekend. Keep it simple, keep it close to home and easy on the pocket. Disconnect, put your feet up, spend some quality time with your family and friends and do it regularly – even if it is just day trips, or a picnic in a park.

Look back on your photos

You probably took a gazillion of photos during the holidays; print some out, change your screensaver, upload a few online and look back. Be careful to not fall into the post-holiday tendency where looking at photos turn into a state of sadness and longing; rather appreciate the memories you’ve made and use the photos as a goal tool to look forward (with excitement, not sadness) to your next vacation.

Set goals

Don’t let your new year’s resolutions be someone else’s joke. Have a goal, stick to it and change it as you see fit; even if you take a week-long break from it every now and then. Having a sense of purpose can have a powerful effect on your life.

Surround yourself with the vacation vibe and tribe

What made your vacation so memorable? Was it the people, the activities, the music, the weather, the food? Well, you can’t do anything about the weather, but surrounding yourself with family, like-minded people, good meals, music and doing the activities you love is a possibility.

Be grateful

Gratitude can be an instant mood changer. Be grateful if you had a good vacation and stay in that mindset of appreciation. 

Face your finances

Don’t bury your head in the sand when payday is still somewhere in the distance. We all tend to overspend over the holidays and ignore those bank SMSs announcing our balance after a swipe, but face your reality. Knowing what goes on and how to budget until payday might be a bigger relief than just ignoring your bank balance.

Face your finances again

If December/January is the time when you take the majority of your leave days, get ahead and start saving towards that holiday goal now. You might feel a small pinch during the year but your last paycheck (and bonus) before the holidays will last longer and you won’t have to rely so heavily on your credit card.

The post-holiday blues’ best before date

Holiday blues have a best before date; it is okay to feel a bit sad and down once it is over but the feeling should not last for a whole year until your next holiday. If you are struggling with your thoughts, feel constantly negative or have trouble sleeping, eating and functioning, it might be best to see a healthcare professional.

What to read next on Traveller24:

Explore more in 2018: Travel Corp's top 8 trips to plan for this year

Travel lists: Where to go in 2018

2018 in Public Holidays: Do your leave planning like a pro