Tuesday, September 17, 2013

10 Ways to Beat that Post-Vacation Shlump

Returning from vacation can be downright depressing.  After hours of lazy, uninterrupted relaxation and exciting adventures in exotic locations, starting back on the typical daily grind all over again can prove to be quite difficult.  After returning from my relaxing, long-weekend getaway to my beloved cabin-in-the-woods a couple weeks ago, my family and I had a hard time adjusting back to our daily, boring home lives - heck, we wanted to go back!  BUT, we couldn't right then and there, so we had no choice to pick back up where we left off.  This transition does not have to be painstakingly difficult, nor does it have to leave you feeling sad.  Here are ten ways to beat those post-vacation blues and change your bummy spirits around!

1) Bring a tangible memory back with you - Every morning for the past year or so, I've been using the same spoon to eat my breakfast and to stir my morning cup of coffee.  As silly as it may seem, something about the scalloped finishing on the edges and the delicate scrollwork adorning the neck intrigues me and helps me to feel both comfortable and at ease.  My momma is too aware of my fascination and cling to this particular looking spoon, since I tend to switch out her spoon whenever she uses "mine" before I can get a hold of it...I just really like this spoon, okay!?...She, too, could not remember the origin of this sole spoon that does not match our regular set.  I hadn't recognized why I hold such a strong connection to it until my recent getaway. 

While grabbing utensils for the table setting at our cabin over my vacation, my momma noticed the familiar scrolly style of the spoons we have there. 

"This is where your spoon is from!" she excitingly exclaimed.  "I wanted to bring home a piece of our cabin, so I brought it back a while ago and completely forgot about it!"

Subconsciously, I must have felt that connection to my home-away-from-home; I just couldn't remember the style of our cabin's utensils! 

Rambling, reminiscing story aside, bringing home a tangible, memorable object, especially one that you frequently use or that holds some kind of special meaning from your vacation, can preserve your memories of being away, and brings your vacation spot home with you.  This dinky little spoon makes me even happier now that I know of it's previous home, as I think of my cabin whenever I use it.

2) Capture the moments on film - While our memories, stories, and thoughts can carry us back to our escapes to quiet, peaceful forests or warm, sandy beaches, visually revisiting those events through pictures can help us recollect certain colors, landscapes, smells, tastes, and activities that might have been tucked away in our memory.  With pictures, you can organize them, scrapbook with them, decorate your abode with them, or simply just look at them, all helping to prolong your experience.  Not only can you enjoy the pictures on your own, but you can also share the photos with family and friends.  Sharing experiences is not only fun, but it can help to strengthen those memories since storytelling and reflection is sure to ensue.  Be that typical tourist and stop your family at funny signs or breathtaking views to snap away on your camera.  Just do not let picture taking consume your vacation time.  It is too easy to become snap-happy (as I am well aware of...) to the point where you can't fully enjoy an activity without stopping every two minutes to take a picture of a different pinecone...All the stopping time can quickly add up, wasting precious moments that can be spent enjoying the area.  Your family or whoever you are with will eventually get annoyed, too - trust me, I know!!

3) Set aside the TV remote, phone, and internet - For many people, vacations offer not only escapes from our daily lives, but also from all of the technological distractions that overwhelm our time.  Rather than spending the evening plopped on the couch mindlessly clicking through channels, we are usually out doing something while on vacation.  Nothing kills the excitement of new experiences and participating in activities that we enjoy like not dedicating our full attention to them.  When we return from vacation, there are certain actions that we must return attending to, but we do not have to root ourselves back into every rut that we previously spent our lives digging in prior to our trips.  Don't tie yourself to your phone and television, wasting hours and hours of your day; use that time to do other activities you enjoy.  Go for a walk.  Sit by a fire pit in your yard.  Explore a new town.  Read a book.  Try a new recipe.  Craft a wreath for your door.  Tinker in the garage.  Bike through a natural area.  Any of these activities will help us to retain feelings of excitement, adventure, and relaxation brought on by vacation. 

4) Get out into nature - When we go on vacations, we typically visit somewhere scenic or we visit at least one spot where the landscape is breathtaking.  However, our return home usually sends us back into spending much of the time indoors, whether it be in our homes, in school or work, in stores, or in any other public buildings.  After reverting from our vacation spots, spend your free time outdoors.  Find the nearest nature parks, walking trails, zoos, playgrounds, etc.  Have a picnic, ride your bike, go fishing, or draw a scene in your garden.  Are these locations not accessible to you?  Even taking a measly walk around your block gets you out into the natural world.  Simply being outside helps you feel away from home, and even provides you with the refreshing sensations experienced while away in a different place.  Don't limit outdoor activities just to your vacation time; extend your getaway feelings by getting yourself outdoors as much as possible.  This way, you won't feel as suffocated by buildings, and you'll give yourself the chance to get away again without needing to go too far. 

5) Think about and appreciate the things you only have at home - Sitting and wishing you were back away at your vacation spot can really drag you down.  You may miss a certain cave you discovered off the shore of the beach that you frequently explored or you may dream yourself back to the fallen tree log you would quietly sit on and reflect at while investigating the forest surrounding your cabin.  Unfortunately, all this wishing will not bring you back; it can make you rather upset instead.  To combat any feelings of not wanting to be home, remember the special things that you absolutely enjoy that are only located by or at your home.  Is there a unique favorite restaurant or dessert shop a few minutes away?  Go and eat there!  Nothing like the feeling of your real bed with your broken-in mattress that perfectly wraps around your body?  Go snuggle up under your covers!  Love the goofy company of your loyal friends? Go visit with them!  There are things at or near your home that you would not find at your vacation spot, so go and replace those negative feelings of longing with the joy that these spots, people, or objects bring you. 

6) Be thankful - Have you seen the commercial where the kids are saying we want more and more and more?  Oh, the sad truth in those words!  Of course, spending more time away or having more of something may feel wonderful temporarily, but rather than being gluttonous, we should be thankful for the experiences we had or the moments that were given to us.  Be thankful for the opportunity you had to get away; be content with the moments you were able to enjoy.  If circumstances were any different, you might not have been able to go; not everyone shares the same fortune.  Gratefulness can help to wipe away your yearning and cravings for more and more and more.

7) Plan your return home, not just your trip - Before we leave to go somewhere, our days can seem a little hectic with all of the required planning that we must do.  Even though your cherished free time becomes devoted to planning your trip, take a few moments to plan your return home.  Leave your home with some sort of pleasant project to do or some kind of craft.  Sit that book you have been dying to read on your nightstand, waiting for your arrival.  Whatever you leave for yourself, just make sure it is something you actually enjoy doing and is something that will make coming home worthwhile.  You don't want to return home to a headache-causing plumbing project or anything of that nature, which leads us to...

8) Finish your chores and to-do lists before you leave - Coming home to a mile-long list of to-do activities can just wear you out when you come home, making you wish you never came back.  Of course, there is only so much time in the day and some unfortunate accidents occur at last minute before you leave, but if at all possible, finish everything you need to do before you leave.  Clean the house, put dishes away, tackle any touch-ups and fixes, get your hair dyed, shop for necessities, etc.  The more dismal, tedious tasks you accomplish before your vacation, the more free time for relaxing and fun activities you will have when you return.  This way, being home will be less dreadful.  Yes, trying to cram in everything before your trip might make things a little hectic, but you will soon be relaxing near the lake, stress and worry free, and you won't be coming home with the blues!

9) Stop thinking about the next time you'll be able to take a trip - With all of our obligations, the trip we just took may be the last one for a long while.  Sitting and constantly reminding ourselves that we are stuck at home for the next few weeks, months, even year or five keeps us in a dangerous funk for many reasons.  First of all, these thoughts put a negative connotation on the concept of "being home".  While your house may not be located in a tropical paradise or secluded mountain-side, your home provides you with a roof over your head; shelter from extreme weather; a place to eat, sleep, and store all of your belongings...it's not exactly a horrible place, now is it?  Actually, our homes are wonderful places, so we shouldn't associate them with bad thoughts.  Thinking about your next trip also keeps the blues-a-playing because it takes away from the trip you were just previously on.  Rather than focusing on all of the exciting moments we were able to experience and reveling in that vacation high, we drag ourselves down with bummy scrutiny.  Live in the moment; cherish the now and the past, not the future.  You don't know what will happen...unless you are a psychic (if that is the case, please let me know what the future holds!).

10) Make life easy for a little bit and get some sleep - Who knew that all of the poolside relaxing, car sitting, and delicious area-specific delicacy eating can be oh, so exhausting!  I don't know about you, but after vacations, I'm almost always tired.  Even though I've been away, I feel like my life was fuller and busier than before.  My theory is that a little fresh air detoxes us and since we actually get the time to catch up and relax a little, our bodies try to compensate on all of the stress we have put it through...nearly impossible!  We all know that being tired can make us groggy and irritable; typical activities can become even more lackluster and aggravating because we simply don't have the energy to perform them.  Rather than adding our exhaustion to our feelings of sadness and yearning to go back, combat the exhaustion with some sleep.  Before doing all of the previous steps, just kick back and take a nap...or two...or twenty.  Priorities that don't need to be done right away DON'T NEED TO BE DONE RIGHT AWAY.  Instead of running around, crafting, walking, biking, doing chores, reading books, having fun, just stop and sleep.  If you are able to, use one more vacation day from work and stay home the next day to just sleep.  Working, studying, doing projects, and even having fun all require energy, so do not over-exert yourself.  Let your body slow down and readjust itself to your regular lifestyle.  This way, you won't be combining negative feelings stemming from exhaustion to shlumpy post-vacation thoughts. 

Following these simple steps and preparing yourself for your vacations can make both the trip, itself, and return home more enjoyable.  Don't let negative emotions ruin the fun times you just had!

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