real life

Three simple ways to beat the post-holiday blues.

So you’re back at work now, huh?

After weeks – or even just days – filled with beach trips, day drinking, night drinking, sleep ins, afternoon naps, [mostly] uninterrupted reading time and multiple brunch dates, we can hardly blame you for feeling a little like this on your first day back in The Real World:

Say hello to your new sidekick, the Post-Holiday Blues - an unfortunate side effect of all that well-deserved fun, relaxation and poolside cocktail-drinking you've indulged in recently.

"When we’re on holidays, particularly summer holidays here in Australia, we’re generally experiencing a much greater amount of positive emotions compared to negative ones," says Dr Suzy Green, clinical psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute. "We usually make time to spend with loved ones in relaxed and sunny settings and there are no pressing deadlines. We’re also usually spending time doing things we love."

Unfortunately, this high level of positivity - which, while it lasts, is great for our wellbeing - makes re-entering the world of responsibility and pre-7am alarms a hell of a lot harder to deal with.

"Positive emotions are like teflon - they don’t tend to stick,compared to negative emotions which are more like velcro. They’re short-lived, which is why we really need to savour them," explains Dr Green.

Watch: Relive your memories of the last day in the office before Christmas... (Post continues after video.)

"There’s usually only one way to go after a high, and that’s at the very least a return to our baseline levels of well-being ... Reflecting back on the holiday can provide momentary boosts of positive emotion; however if you make hard comparisons of how wonderful the holidays were compared to the daily grind, you’re also more likely to feel down and sad that the time passed so quickly."


As with almost anything, everyone experiences this post-holiday slump in different ways - the most common being lethargy, low levels of energy, and struggling work yourself up to accomplish even small tasks. Dr Green says it can be particularly difficult for people who aren't "flourishing mentally" to return to family and work commitments, as it can "trigger feelings of despondency and low mood, even depression".

Sadly, hopping in a time machine and re-living your holiday festivities isn't really an option yet, but Dr Green says there are some things you can do to vanquish that summertime sadness.

1. Enjoy the memories

You might expect that recalling all your happy sun-soaked holiday moments would just make you feel more deflated, but it's actually the opposite.

"Research has shown that if we can recall positive memories they can boost our positive emotions in the moment," says Dr Green. She suggests printing out some of your holiday photos - especially ones featuring the places and people that were the biggest mood-boosters - and sticking them up at home or around your work desk. Setting them as your computer desktop or phone background will also do the trick.

"Also, consider sending some of your photos to friends and family to say thanks for sharing the holidays - research supports expressions of gratitude as one of the biggest and simplest mood-boosters." Dr Green adds.

2. Be kind to yourself

"Try to schedule in some simple mood-boosters in your daily routine as you settle back in," Dr Green suggests.

"For example, buy yourself a beautiful bunch of flowers for your desk or home or schedule in a 'hump day' evening out for dinner and/or dancing with a friend or your loved one. Be gentle and kind to yourself."

3. Plan your next trip

Yes, you read correctly - you have our permission to go ahead and start researching your next big trip or weekend away, no matter how prematurely.

"Research tells us that anticipation of the experience of pleasure is nearly as pleasurable as the experience itself," Dr Green says.

Start Googling exotic summer locations in 3, 2...

Still feeling sad? This gallery of celebrity ugly cries might make you feel a little better:

Do you have any tips of your own for overcoming post-holiday sadness?

You can follow Dr Suzy Green on Twitter at @drsuzygreen, and The Positivity Instituteon Facebook here.

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