You’ve just taken the trip of a lifetime to a far-off destination. You'd been dreaming about this trip for what feels like forever, and saved your pennies to afford it.
You sipped your cocktails by the beach, hiked up that mountain you’d been training for, saw that mysterious wild animal you’d only read about in books. The trip was great — but now you’re back in reality, sitting at your desk, staring at your new computer screensaver of your favorite photo from your favorite trip.
Post-vacation happiness fade out may sound like a funny term, but it’s actually a scientifically proven phenomenon.
According to a 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people, the New York Times explained, upon returning home.
And the act of returning to work can seriously kill your post-vacation bliss.
“People start working again,” Jeroen Nawijn, tourism research lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, told the Times. “They have to catch up. Usually there is a big pile of work for them when they get back from the holiday.”
But the post-vacation happiness fade doesn’t need to happen to you. Here are five tips to help you boost your vibe after the vacation of a lifetime.
Plan your return before you even leave.
We know, thinking about a vacation ending before it even begins sounds like a nightmare, but trust us, being prepared is the best defense.
Clean your home, do your laundry, make your bed and create a post-vacation to-do list before heading to the airport to ensure a smooth transition upon arrival back. That way you’ll have no nagging tasks waiting for you when you walk in the door.
Recreate your favorite meal from the trip.
As HuffPost reported, food and memory are incredibly closely connected. By recreating your favorite meal from your vacation you can not only jog your pleasant memories, but also share them with friends and family over the dinner table. On your travels simply pick up a local cookbook or two to have dishes to make forever.
Use the vacation as your meditation “happy place.”
Psychology Today suggests thinking back on your happiest vacation memory to help relieve any stress from your day. As the publication explained, several studies in neuroscience have shown that “merely by mentally picturing yourself where you felt good yields a salubrious effect.”
During your regular yoga or meditation practice close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and think about a time or place you were happiest. The endorphins alone will make you feel like you’re right back in that magical time.
Eat healthy and stay away from alcohol upon returning.
We know, returning from vacation is a buzzkill on its own, but eating healthy and abstaining from alcohol may be the best thing you can do to beat the post-vacation mood dip.
“Alcohol may make you fall asleep quickly, but you don't get into the deeper stages, so you end up sleep deprived,” Michael Breus, PhD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, told WebMD. “I'm not against drinking, but you have to realize the effect. If you watch the amount of alcohol and food you consume, and get to bed at a reasonable hour, and get some exercise, which will help you sleep, you might be able to get rid of your sleep debt.”
No sleep, feeling rundown after heavy meals and a serious hangover is just a recipe for post-vacation disaster so avoid it with a few healthy choices for a couple of days.
Start planning your next vacation.
Sure, take some time to revel in your recent travels then move on and start thinking about your next adventure. As the study in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life also showed, the very act of planning a vacation is what makes us the happiest.
And while it may not always be possible to go on a global adventure you can always plan a stellar stay-cation right in your own home. Check out our guide to having the ultimate staycation here to keep you relaxed in between your larger vacation expeditions here.