POST VACATION BLUES OR How to cope with vacation comeback depression

Come affrontare il rientro dalle vacanze

POST VACATION BLUES OR HOW TO cope with vacation comeback depression


Unlike major depression, which is a much more serious condition and is usually unrelated to well-defined events, “post vacation blues” is generated solely by the return from vacation, and is therefore a transient and easily treated condition.

And, well… by now the vacations are already a distant memory.
I have to say that never has the re-entry been more strenuous than this year.
I spent the summer in Spain zomping from Gran Canaria to Tenerife to Valencia. To end on a high note, I even threw in 3 days in the Monferrato area of total relaxation under the motto of “me myself and I.”
You can understand my discomfort when I found myself sitting at the desk in front of the computer whose password I had also forgotten to log in…
I felt and still feel tired, unmotivated and sad, so I looked into it and found out that this feeling that many people experience after returning from vacation has a specific name, it is called “post vacation blues.”
Not satisfied with the info found, I decided to interview a professional psychologist, Dr. Elisa Van Eynde, to better understand what it is, what symptoms it causes, and how best to deal with it.
Here’s what came out of it — enjoy the read!

1) What is it and how can this condition of depression occur since returning from vacation?

The so-called “post vacation blues” or otherwise known as“comeback depression” is a condition that surely many of us are familiar with. It is rare that the idea of starting to work or study again generates cheerfulness … but in some people this unwillingness to start again turns into a full-blown syndrome, thus a state of malaise consisting of a predefined range of symptoms, which is configured as similar to that of depression.

Unlike major depression, which is a much more serious condition and is usually unrelated to well-defined events, “post vacation blues” is generated solely by the return from vacation, and is therefore a transient and easily treated condition.

2) What are the most frequently encountered symptoms that should set off alarm bells?

The “post vacation blues” is characterized by a number of symptoms that are not only mental, but also physical (so-called psychosomatic symptoms). In addition to deflected mood, apathy and lack of initiative, a feeling of lightheadedness, a general decline in attention may be present. In addition to these symptoms describing nervous deactivation, and which are typical of depression, there are other “activating” opposites, such as the possibility of experiencing anxiety states or having panic attacks. In this picture, the physical consequences are frequent headaches, digestive difficulties and difficulty sleeping.

Therefore, if we are particularly sad and listless when we return from vacation, become exaggeratedly agitated at the idea of starting our usual activities again, and experience some of the physical symptoms described above, if this condition has been going on for more than a few days, we might reasonably believe that we have developed the “post vacation blues.”

To get out of it, we could talk to the attending physician or a psychologist or psychotherapist, and take some steps to reduce the symptoms.

3) Has this particular pandemic period increased the incidence in the data of cases of “post vacation blues”?

Yes. Istat data note that reentry stress affects about 35 percent of the population, or more than 1 in 3 Italians, with highest incidence among 25 to 45 year olds. In this picture, certainly the pandemic has not helped.

Re-entry depression data and causesThe Piepoli Institute, an independent research and opinion polling firm, found in a recent survey that the biggest stressors on return are:

  • coronavirus emergency;
  • economic condition;
  • the work situation;
  • the political situation;

This finding is not surprising, since the prolonged pandemic situation has produced a significant increase in anxiety symptoms and the development of negative thoughts in much of the population. It is like a latent factor that is added to all those that can contribute to the emergence of states of malaise. For this very reason, the demand for psychological help has increased significantly in the past year and a half.

4) What advice can we give to prevent and treat vacation comeback depression?

Being a transient condition, it normally resolves within a few weeks, However, in particularly anxious individuals or those prone to depression, it could become the “spring” that triggers more serious and lasting latent problems. Therefore, it is not to be taken underhand, and a number of steps can be taken to assist the resolution.

The key to resume is GRADUALITY.

It may be helpful to return to the city a few days before work begins to allow the body to readjust to the environment.

Once operational, it is advisable not to overdo it, and to have the foresight to take care of commitments slowly, increasing activity as you go. In addition, especially if we have indulged in numerous gluttonous sins during the vacations, we can re-regulate our diet, introducing fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water to purify the body. Another option that many people could take advantage of to make the restart process more gradual is to take advantage of smartworking, and not re-enter the hectic workplace climate right away.

Finally, it is advisable to continue to indulge in moments of relaxation and recreation, especially on weekends. Let’s not fill the agenda with tasks right away, but start again in small steps, just like an athlete who has not trained for a long time.

As for prevention, changes should be primarily at the societal level, rather than the individual level. One of the major causes of the “post vacation blues” is the length of vacations, generally concentrated in August. Recovering after a prolonged period of inactivity is remarkably difficult. To improve this situation, one could take a cue from the Northern European model, which provides a series of short vacations spread throughout the year.

As for the work of the individual, it is certainly helpful to work on the awareness of being prone to experience states of discomfort after the vacations, and then leave knowing that upon return it will be useful to resume with the proper gradualness.

5) Before we say goodbye, do you still have any thoughts or advice for our readers?

I would like to make a few remarks about the emergence of many“psychological syndromes” that have popped up in the landscape of mental disorders in recent years.

Vacation return depression asked to the psychologistParticularly during the pandemic period,“Hut syndrome” (the fear of returning to the outside world after a period of lockdown) and“languishing” (a depressive-like state characterized by apathy and listlessness) arose.“Post vacation blues” is also a recently identified syndrome.

But what does it all mean? Are psychologists trying to“pathologize” any condition, or are we increasingly a world of “crazy people”? … Absolutely not!

There is a big difference between mental disorders proper and the above conditions. The fact that they are tied to specific events denotes their temporariness and reversibility. The word “syndrome,” which might be frightening, is used because these states of distress have common characteristics, and the word syndrome is used precisely to put a number of symptoms under one hat. The intent is not to necessarily clinicize all these distress situations, but rather to recognize and name them.

In our society, unfortunately, there has always been a tendency to consider the Psychological well-being not a priority. Physical health is., so much so that even for a small problem, such as a cold, I feel entitled to seek the advice of the general practitioner. On the contrary, to get to the point of seeking psychological counseling I really have to be “at the end of my rope.”

Stereotypes such as “only crazy people go to the psychologist,” “I have to make it on my own” persist. And also, it is often difficult to afford the psychologist, considering that most work in private practice. That is why in recent years, fortunately, steps are being taken to introduce the position of the PRIMARY CARE PSYCHOLOGIST, free of charge, just like the general practitioner. A very important figure who could identify and circumscribe issues that are initially not serious, but which, if unseen, could result in extremely disabling disorders. A high cost not only to the individual, but also sociosanitary.

Therefore, I believe that the “pathologizing” of common and not particularly serious states of distress is useful in emphasizing all those conditions that undermine a person’s well-being and health but are often overlooked. The hope is to constitute a society where a person’s health is considered “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease” (WHO, 1948).

What can I say, a very enlightening conversation.

I thank Dr. Elisa for your time.

However I understood that I was in the midst of “post vacation blues.”

Personally, in order to overcome this time of discomfort, I am trying to take my mind off work by going to the gym, taking classes and going out with friends in my free time so as to keep myself busy and not think about the fact that until recently my main thought was how to get the sand out of my bathing suit…

In any case, if you see that the state of discomfort persists over time, do not be afraid to seek a consultation with a specialist–sometimes just talking about it is enough to approach everything with a new perspective.

Ps: At the end of the talk Elisa affectionately shook my hand and left her business card telling me that for anything I could contact her… I think she sensed the high insanity quotient that characterizes me… At the end of the day, though, it is so good to live life with a little bit of craziness!

Maaa…when does the Christmas vacation start!

See you in the next article ^ ^

Dr. Elisa Van Eynde – Psychologist in Turin

Piscologist Elisa Van EyndeMy name is Elisa Van Eynde and I was born in Turin, mother Piedmontese, father Belgian. Psychological subjects have fascinated me since childhood, and after classical studies and the discovery of Greek myths and Freud, enrolling in psychology was a natural choice.

During my three-year course, I became passionate about neuroscience and the idea that to understand the mind, it is imperative to understand the body as well, since these two parts are inextricably linked. Thus, I enrolled in the master’s degree program in Body and Mind Sciences, a faculty with many medical exams, which allowed me to understand how the relationship between mind and body is continuous, and how a person’s health depends on the success of this dialogue. During my studies, I learned about Mindfulness meditation, a method that aims to restore this balance.

After graduation I did a one-year internship in which I assisted in leading Mindfulness Based groups at the CSM (Mental Health Center) of the Asl of Turin, and the following year I undertook and completed a course to become an MBSR instructor, a group Mindfulness protocol.

I currently work in a company where I offer psychological counseling paths to employees and where I implemented a method of selection interviews aimed at surveying the psychological characteristics of candidates, with the purpose of testing whether high levels of emotional intelligence correspond to better performance and greater adaptation and well-being in the business environment.

In addition, I am in private practice offering individual psychological support paths and individual or group Mindfulness and meditative yoga paths.

I believe that continuing education is necessary in this work, and from January I will begin a 4-year journey to become a cognitive constructivist psychotherapist.

My contacts:

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