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How to Prevent Post Vacation Blues (Coping isn’t the way)

5 min read
post vacation blues

We all know that returning to your routine after a long break from work is difficult, to say the least, but do we know why? Or are we simply blaming it on the blues, and allowing this to be an excuse for 2 – 3 weeks of low productivity in the workplace?

Let’s get real here. We can’t deny that post vacation syndrome is a real thing, BUT, it doesn’t have to be something we are bound to catch like it’s some sort of epidemic flu.

Rather than finding the best coping techniques for when the blues hit, why not look at how to prevent it in the first place?

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Understanding the Post Vacation Blues – What it is, Symptoms, and Effects

Let us shed some light on the topic of post vacation depression and define it for you.  We’ll also share, why it happens, and how can you detect it in yourself, or your employees. Also, we will touch on where the responsibility lies when it comes to preventing the blues.

Post vacation syndrome (PVS) is commonly called the blues. PVS typically appears in individuals who have recently returned to work following a holiday of a week or more. Typical symptoms include a lack of focus and difficulty concentrating. Many employees often experience irritability, the overall feeling of discomfort, or an inability to sit still.

The result of PVS can be any one of the following, including a decrease in productivity, disinterest in one’s work, and constant daydreaming of the next vacation.

All-in-all, depression experienced after a period of vacation isn’t pretty. With some techniques on how to prevent falling down the slippery slope of post vacation depression, you can ensure a smooth transition back to work.

post vacation depression

How to Cope with Post Vacation Blues

Coping is not a solution! But, identifying the triggers that bring on the blues, can help us reverse engineer our thought process so that we don’t fall into the blues in the first place. Have I lost you? Here’s an example to illustrate the concept.

If after the holidays, you always come back to work with a lack of focus and wandering mind, ask yourself one thing. What is it that triggers this lack of focus? Ie. on holidays you release all the stress of your day to day and upon returning to work, it all comes rushing back. All of these feelings then block your mind and ability to place clear focus and concentration on a particular task. If this is your situation, then prepare yourself better for your first day back so it won’t be full of stress.

How Employees Can Prevent the Blues

Is post holiday blues a syndrome or is it just a habit we fall into? I’d tend to lean towards it being a pattern of thinking, which is triggered by a cue, thus activating the habit which ultimately translates into the post travel holiday depression.

The best way to help yourself adjust back into your day to day routine is with the following:

  • Resume healthy habits. Eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, continue exercising, and make sure you are getting enough sleep. You don’t want to fall victim to these common workplace illnesses.
  • Ease into your schedule. Once the vacation is over, you must return to your daily habits. For many people, this translates to sleeping fewer hours and waking up early. To adapt yourself, it’s a good idea to start setting your alarm earlier. You can do this a few days before you return from holidays so your body won’t be in shock the first day back.
  • Avoid returning to work right away. Allow yourself a few days to physically and mentally prepare yourself before returning to the office. Returning to the routine too quickly, without adequate transition time can do more harm than good.
  • Spread out your vacation days. As we said before, returning to work after a long stretch isn’t easy, which is why it may be a good idea to spread out your vacation days. Choosing to take time off throughout the year for many small vacations, rather than for one long one, is often better.
  • Attitude, Attitude, Attitude. Maintaining a positive attitude upon returning to work after the holidays is key. This can be achieved by focusing on the positive aspects of your work/home routine (ie. reconnecting with your co-workers, learning something new, enjoying the comfort of your home life, visiting with friends and family, etc).

To keep better track of the vacations of your employees, we recommend you use Factorial. Start planning your HR strategy by incorporating tools that help streamline your HR processes.

Factorial is a human resources management tool that, among other functions, allows you to request, approve, and view, the vacations of every team and it’s members.

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Prevent the blues: How Employers Can Help – It’s your responsibility too!

Even with all the prevention strategies, if an employer isn’t sensitive to the fact that depression after vacation does exist, transitioning back to work will be difficult. Take for example the worker who has the best mindset in the world. If they return back to work, only to find a stack of papers and to-do’s placed there by the boss, no amount of post-holiday depression prevention techniques will suffice.

Do you see the problem with this situation? Humans are human, not robots; let’s say this again…Humans are not robots. We cannot simply flip a switch and begin functioning at 100% following an extended period of rest.

Prepping your employees before and after the holidays is crucial to helping them adjust in and out of vacation mode. Here are some ways you can help your employees through the process of adapting after their vacation.

Before Vacation

  • Organize beforehand. Support your team in organizing their workload. Make sure they have delegated the tasks to the correct person who will be in charge in their absence.
  • Workplace environment. Creating a healthy workplace that your employees enjoy coming back to is one of the best things an employer can do.

Post Vacation

  • Host an Event. It’s important that your employees don’t rush straight into work, but rather ease back into everything. Hosting an event for your staff provides the opportunity for them to reunite after the holidays in a fun and relaxed atmosphere before returning to the grind. If you don’t have time to plan an event, don’t worry. A quick online search for team building will generate an assortment of team building activities. A team lunch following the holidays is also another great activity to offer your employees.
  • Review Objectives & Task. Following the holidays, we often forget where we left off. For this reason, it is vital to spend the first few days following vacations, reorganizing and refocusing within each department. Holding team meetings are a great way to help your employees set clear objectives under your expert guidance. This is also a good time to set new goals, determine deadlines, and plan the upcoming weeks.
  • Vary the Routine. Changing the routine to incorporate something new is a great way to keep employees engaged following the holidays. Remember, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Something as small as offering free fruit once a week to the staff, or allowing flexible starting hours. All of these initiatives help contribute to a healthy work environment. More often than not, it’s the emotional salary that employees value the most.
  • Adjustment Hours. Transitioning from rest and relaxation to working 8+ hours a day, is a sure-fire way to guarantee your employees will more likely fall into after holiday depression. Help your employees adjust to the time with a flexible workplace environment. Reducing the hours during the first week or two to summer hours before switching to a full day, helps with the transition.

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