How to Overcome Post-Vacation Depression

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Written by:Meaghan Rice PsyD., LPC

Published On: October 27, 2022

Medically reviewed by: Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHC

Reviewed On: October 27, 2022

Updated On: November 16, 2023


We have all probably experienced the dread and anxiety that accompanies a return to “normal life”  after a great vacation doing something that really fuels our souls. Going on vacation or taking a break from work can be a great escape from your everyday routine, so it’s common to have those sad, unmotivated, or anxious feelings when you go back to work, school, or your normal responsibilities. This is commonly known as post-vacation blues or post-vacation depression. For many of us, the extreme transition can be difficult and we often find ourselves stuck with future angst rather than reflecting on positive memories or enjoying the here and now. 

Unfortunately, many people believe that post-holiday blues are uncontrollable or to be expected. The good news is that with some healthy coping skills, depression after vacation can be managed and we can get ourselves to a more optimistic viewpoint. First, it’s important to know what symptoms of depression after vacation can look like, so you can better recognize when those coping skills are needed. 

Read on to learn more about post-vacation depression and how you can overcome it.

Signs of Post-Vacation Depression

There’s more to depression than extreme sadness, and some depression symptoms might not be that obvious. With post-vacation depression, the symptoms can often be attributed to simply a lack of motivation after you travel. However, there are other depressive symptoms that you might not be aware of. Here are a few of them:

  • Irritability
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Isolation
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue (even after returning from vacation)
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus
  • Mild insomnia

Causes of Post-Vacation Depression

Post-vacation depression can stem from a variety of factors, and understanding its root causes is an essential step in managing it effectively. It’s important to recognize that depression after vacation is not uncommon and can be a natural response to the significant shift from relaxation and enjoyment back to daily responsibilities. Here are some common causes to consider:

  • Sudden transition: The abrupt shift from the freedom and relaxation of vacation to the structured routine of work or daily life can be jarring. The stark contrast between leisure and responsibility can trigger feelings of unease.
  • Emotional attachment: Vacations often create cherished memories and experiences. Saying goodbye to these moments can be emotionally challenging, leading to a sense of loss or sadness.
  • Pressure to perform: There might be a perceived pressure to immediately catch up on work or household tasks after returning, which can be overwhelming and contribute to post-vacation blues.
  • Lifestyle discrepancy: Vacation sometimes allows for indulgence and escape from daily responsibilities. Returning to a routine that feels less exciting or fulfilling can be disheartening.

Understanding these potential causes can help you navigate post-vacation depression more effectively. Remember that it’s a common experience, and with the right strategies and support, you can ease the transition and focus on the positive aspects of your life.

How to Prevent & Overcome Post-Vacation Depression

Healthy habits are much harder to create than they are to keep. Creating new habits is challenging because these new habits have to resonate for them to gain momentum and can quickly fall flat if they are not met with positive reinforcement. That’s why it’s so important to dabble with a few different healthy habits to see what works for us and makes it into our daily routine.

These tips from our therapists about post-vacation habits can help you keep post-vacation depression at bay.

Helpful tips from our therapists:

  • Take an extra day off work, or come back a day early to start readjusting into your everyday life. This is a great time to tackle tasks like unpacking, cleaning, and grocery shopping which will help you feel more prepared for the week ahead. It will also give you dedicated time you need to transition from vacation mode
  • If possible, block an hour of your first day back to work on your calendar. Use this time at the start of your day to catch up on emails and to focus on your top priorities for the day or week ahead. This allows you to ease back into regular life at work without getting overwhelmed
  • Before leaving for vacation try to tidy up and cross some of your normal chores off your list— it will be worth it to avoid coming back to a mess
  • Set out your work clothes before you unpack so they don’t get mixed up in the clothing explosion that tends to take over your closet post-vacation
  • Defer unpacking until you have time to put everything away properly
  • Pack your lunch and work bag the night before so that you can just grab and go in the morning — you may feel more tired than usual the day after a trip
  • Go to bed early or as soon as possible if returning late at night

 Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD, C-DBT (She/Her/Hers)

  • Develop a personal mantra, “I’m smart, talented, physically appealing, and motivated”
  • Put some community-oriented plans on the calendar (giving you something to look forward to). Whether it’s meeting up with friends or family, you can use this time to talk to your loved ones about the amazing vacation experience you just had and reminisce on the positive memories
  • Reach out and ask a loved one or friends about their end of vacation scaries and how they managed
  • Create a daily routine that incorporates some mindfulness (early in the morning or late in the evening)
  • Allow yourself space to grieve the loss of a relaxing vacation coming to an end
  • Remind yourself that time and space is fluid, peace and chaos go hand in hand
  • Reflect on your life in weekly, monthly, and even yearly increments to make sure you are headed to the best versions of yourself
  • Reevaluate your work and/or school to ensure you are pursuing your passion
  • Find role models that have healthy ways of dealing with post-vacation depression

 Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC (She/Her/Hers)

Since there are so many people that struggle adjusting after a vacation you can rest easy knowing you’re not alone and there are ways to manage feelings of depression and anxiety. That said, not all coping mechanisms are created equal. Focus on avoiding behaviors that only temporarily alleviate depression, since they can lead to an escalation of symptoms down the line. Instead, focus on creating functional habits that can be positively reinforced and maintained in your daily routine.

Regaining Control of Your Symptoms

Regaining control can be achieved in a variety of different ways, but we have to work hard to center our efforts around our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors rather than other people, places, or things. We don’t have much power over external items (triggers and stressors around us), but shifting our energy to an internal focus gives us the highest chance for success.

Examples of external focus:

  • Trying too hard to get other people out of their own depressive symptoms (focusing more on other people’s symptoms rather than our own, to our detriment)
  • Blaming work for being the reason behind our post-vacation depression
  • Allowing other people to contribute to our post-vacation depression
  • Comparing ourselves to others and feeling even more defeated
  • Letting the world determine our value rather than us feeling more in control over our everyday life

Ways to shift over to an internal focus:

  • Challenging thoughts that get us “stuck”— instead, consider what is within our power to change and what is out of our control
  • Allowing ourselves time to work through gut reactions
  • Making decisions with an objective viewpoint – look for facts rather than focusing on assumptions
  • Planning ahead to prepare for triggers
  • Building our internal locus of control by learning from challenging moments, applying the knowledge going forward, and rewarding ourselves when we succeed

Most importantly, know that you can always access professional help if you are finding yourself paralyzed by negative coping mechanisms or if you are struggling to find ways to positively and successfully manage your post-vacation depression.

The good news is that getting access to professional therapy while traveling has never been easier as a result of a new Talkspace partnership with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Beginning this February 2022, Kimpton will be rolling out mental health services to 4,000+ employees across the country and offering a discount on the first month of a Talkspace plan to all of its guests.

Kimpton will also be providing 1,000 free therapy sessions to guests — to be redeemed on a first come basis. The Kimpton x Talkspace partnership is the first of its kind to bring meaningful and accessible mental health support to hospitality employees, who have been front line workers throughout the pandemic, as well as to travelers managing everyday stresses on the road.

For more information about the Kimpton x Talkspace partnership, please visit, and follow along on social @kimpton and @talkspace for more.

Meaghan Rice

Meaghan Rice is a mental health consultant specializing in professionals who are looking to close the gap between where they are and where they envision themselves being. With a decade of experience in the mental health field, working in a variety of different capacities, Dr. Rice has found her niche amidst the therapist, consultant, and trainer roles.

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