It’s been about two weeks since school resumed for primary and secondary pupils in Nigeria. And I’ve been thinking about holidays in general and the feelings I experience at the end of each holiday. The thing is, returning to school or to work after a relaxing holiday launches the same roller-coaster of emotions in me: excitement, anticipation, trepidation at what lies ahead.
A friend of mine once told me to ‘brace up’ and ‘grow up.’ This was an aftermath of updating my instant messenger status with the question ‘Why is life not a holiday?’
I did not respond to this friend’s call for banter because I didn’t have the time to spare that morning, especially to engage in a conversation that would have had us in an e-fight. Still, that friend’s question sat in my mind all through my return flight back home. It stayed with me all through the process of adjusting to real life after that particular holiday.
Not A Holiday ‘Junkie’
To be honest, I absolutely enjoy the lack of a fixed sleep pattern during holidays. It feels good running and playing with the children and being a child again myself. It also feels incredibly relaxing not working towards any deadlines. So yes, the idea of going back to real life after a vacation often feels uncomfortable.
The truth is, most times real life can be uncomfortable. Real life with the alarm that wakes you way too early, with the familiar panic of worrying about traffic; real life with constrained time and tight schedules, even to the extent that you can only handle domestic shopping once a week. There’s also real life as a employee, wife and mother who often has to check school essays and math homework— and above all, real life that demands you do all of these while still earning a living.
It may seem like I’m complaining, so let me quickly say that I’m aware of the privilege to even have access to holidays. I am very thankful for this. Still, I believe once in a while I am allowed some youthful indulgences; hence my constant desire to hold on to holidays a little longer.
I find I am not the only one being hunted by these holiday blues. I’ve read a number of reports and surveys that suggest that long holidays can make people feel lazy and unenthusiastic about going back to work. I have been told that no matter how long a holiday is, people always want more. A 2011 survey done in the US for the world’s largest travel site, Trip Advisor about holiday blues, showed that more than a third of the respondents struggled with feelings of melancholy following their return from the holiday.
Saying goodbye to your vacation and hello to a full e-mail inbox and new deadlines is never easy. So, it is very common to feel bored by the routines of previous years—with the same chores and duties.
Easing Back To Work
It usually takes some determination. Focusing on the present and future instead of the past can be helpful in easing back into work. In order to get faster into things, Life Coach Shannah Kennedy gives an advise. “Alter your altitude mentally.” “Start with a new approach as soon as you land at the airport. She continues: “Think, I am really excited, I can change things. Ultimately, you should come back from holidays with a full tank and be ready to go. It’s about learning to focus on the positive.’’
From my experience, I discovered something interesting. Adding one enjoyable activity to your week will lessen the holiday blues. It can be a movie, a dinner date, or a party. It can also be as simple as a soak in a hot bath.
I have read that not all of us feel down after our holidays. The holiday blues tend to be more pronounced in people with a certain thinking pattern. This is what another coach said. ‘’It does come with a certain style of thinking,’’ she says. ‘’If your natural disposition is to think that things are going to go wrong and be hard, you are going to be one of the people who will feel more depressed [after your holiday].
As for me, the transition has not particularly gotten easier, but one thing I am consistently doing is to constantly tell myself to joyfully embrace real life. It may not be the same as a holiday, but at least it is a life I enjoy and one I’m committed to continue to improve on.
It will be great to hear from you though. How do you cope with transitioning back to work after a holiday? Feel free to reach out or drop your comments below.
*A version of this article first appeared in Business Day and is republished with the permission of the author.