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Post holiday blues – how to resume 9-5 work after a great holiday

One important lesson I have learned as an occasional traveller with the limited amount of annual leave that I have is to treasure the short breaks that I get. Good things always come to an end, and it’s always back to the real world after that quick trip abroad.

Passing Time HikingArtist

Sometimes work totally feels like this. Picture by via Flickr CC

After a trip, no matter how long or short, it always takes me some time to adjust back to a normal 9-to-5 timetable again. I tend to spend the first few days post-trip basking in the glow of a good holiday. Thoughts like “24 hours ago, I was jumping into the water to see Thresher Sharks” or “last night, I was lying on sand dunes in the lost quarter of the Liwa Desert” run through my head all day and sometimes I am just completely unable to process the spreadsheets and powerpoint slides in front of me.

I always feel like I need a break to get over my break – if only…

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Me Lying Down

How do you get back to work when this is all that’s on your mind

But unfortunately, real life calls and you do need to get back down to work again. Here’s a little bit of what I do after a trip and have to face the realities of heading back into the office.

Download your memories

Your memories of a trip are still fresh, so if you haven’t already been recording your memories during your trip, take that first day back or the closest weekend to do a little trip spring cleaning. For me, that covers anything from:

  • Downloading all my pictures into my computer
  • Finishing up half written journal entries and sticking ephemera into my journal
  • Writing blog posts (yeah, about that…)

Because the truth of the matter is that real life will come along and derail you from any grand plans you might have, so the best time to save your memories is right after the trip. I usually try and schedule an extra day off or some downtime to just rest at home before I head back into the office. It’s a way for me to reflect a little on the trip I just took and a bit of closure so my mind can ready itself to go back to work (or plan that next trip).

Japan Osaka Umeda Sky Tower Journalling

I like to record stuff on the go, so that when I’m back home writing blog posts, I can remember exactly what I was thinking about back then

Extend your experience

Just because a trip has ended, doesn’t mean that you have to go cold turkey and put it all away just to go back to work. A little reminder or two never hurts – I usually bring back little souvenirs to leave on my work desk, or set a particularly scenic photo as my desktop wallpaper, or put up a #throwback photo on Instagram. When I’m deep in the throes of work and feel like strangling somebody, these little memories are a way to pull back a little bit of the rejuvenation taking that holiday gave me.

Of course it could be potentially distracting if you let yourself go into complete wanderlust mode, but I think of these as inspirations and reminders that all the work I put into my job is worthwhile and it’s a visual reminder to take that next holiday and not waste my annual leave. Sometimes, I take short 5-minute wanderlust breaks between work where I just let myself think about travelling, and then put it aside and focus back on work.

Panama Boquete Butterfly Earrings

I like to wear my trip memories – earrings are one of my favourite souvenirs and they make for great stories too. These butterfly earrings are from Boquete, Panama

Start planning your next trip

Of course the best way to get over post-trip blues is to introduce new-trip adrenaline by planning your next journey. This way you will never have time to moon about trips that have ended as you will always be looking forward to your next new destination. Does this help in your work productivity? It can give you a goal to always keep working towards especially when your days are feeling endless and you just can’t pull yourself out of bed to go stare at a computer screen.

Trip Planning Map Pins

Where to next? You can’t get post-trip blues when your next-trip adrenaline is always pumping! Photo by Shawn Harquail via Flickr CC

What are your coping mechanisms to get over post-holiday blues?

A version of this article was posted on Go! Girl Guides, where I was a contributing blogger.