Post vacation blues can turn even the best break into a depressing memory. Is there a helpful message behind such frustration? Yes, there is.
You and I know, vacation experiences can vary a lot. There are those we are glad to see the end of and those which leave us energised and refreshed.
Vacation blues can happen when our break hit a spot that our life doesn’t even get close to.
That kind of post vacation pain happens when the time off filled a void, made us feel happy and alive – call it what you want – in a way that our lives simply don’t. If left unattended this pain can even grow into post vacation depression.
On the way back from my summer vacation I had a distinct sense that my toes were telling me to get ready for their barefoot beach walk.
We had visited a small island in the North Sea. At the beginning and the end of each day I had been walking barefoot along the almost empty beach.
My body had already got used to this delightful experience. Now, I started to have physical withdrawal symptoms. As the days passed my heart started to ache. And then my mind became more critical of the life I have made for myself.
When I was asked whether I, too, still think of the lovely time away, I heard myself say out loud ‘No. I no longer think about it.’
I was shocked. It had sounded so harsh and so unfriendly – telling the other person not to even go there!
The response had not been premeditated and it was not true, not literally.
I do think about the vacation, of course, I do. And I do still yearn for it. But at that moment, I did not want to talk about it. Because, somehow it hurt too much and I had not yet figured out, what to do about it.
Switching from vacation mode to our ‘everyday life’ is not always a smooth transition. We can feel apprehension, regrets, unhappiness, fear and depression. What to do?
If you, too, feel some kind of vacation blues, then what bothers you and leaves you unfulfilled?
I can think of at least two reasons:
a) We connect with something important that is missing in our lives.
b) We recognise, how far away our lives are from the dreams and hopes we once had.
Often when we talk about what we enjoyed during a break, it is the sense of freedom to do more of what we want to do and to be who we are.
Personal freedom is linked to our sense of identity, which we often sacrifice (knowingly or unknowingly) in the rat race of our daily lives.
Personal identity is linked to our sense of purpose, our meaning and the meaning of the lives we live.
If you connect with your sense of personal freedom, identity and purpose more during your vacation than during your life in general, then it is time to look at your life.
For me, the sand and sea water between my toes, the unrestricted sea and sky panorama, the sound and smell of the sea breeze, the solitary walks and the landscape around me – it all stands for freedom, peace and safety.
What about you? If you have vacation blues, then what is it telling you?
What are we going to do about our vacation blues?
What is possible and what is a pipe dream?
Running away, back to the beach, is not the answer (for me, right now).
Sometimes, hasty decisions can cause more trouble, than they are worth. Then again, sometimes taking risks is what is called for. And at other times, indecisiveness can be the better strategy.
It’s all so confusing and such a fuss – right?
I think it’s time to face some regrets (again), to make peace and to think of making some changes.
Because if we don’t, then the vacation blues can keep us stuck in no man’s land. We cannot go back, and neither will we go forward. The blues will fester and can then turn into anxiety, depression and hopelessness.
What do you need to do more of or less of in order to regain more personal freedom, a sense of your identity and your purpose?
I know I must continue to slow down, have time out in nature, be close to water, avoid too much time in built-up areas. I will keep pondering. My hunch is, there is a lot more I can and need to do.
And yes, I have apologised for my rather abrupt claim to no longer think about the vacation. Sometimes it’s good to share the things we struggle with.
Karin Sieger is a psychotherapist and writer based in London, UK. Central to her work is the belief that we all have an intuitive wisdom for self development and emotional healing. Making and living in peace with our self is core to living well and coping with personal crises. Karin is particularly interested in anxiety, loss, transitions and the emotional impact of chronic or life-shortening illnesses like cancer, for which she has been treated herself. Karin posts regularly on her website KarinSieger.com. You can sign up for her Newsletter, follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
Image courtesy of nhi dinh.