Why Do We Get Holiday Blues? A Doctor Explains All

That ‘just touched down’ feeling is the worst. Here’s what to do about it.
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After seven days of living it up in the sun – skin still slightly burnt, hair curly with salty air – there’s nothing worse than touching down in the UK with its overcast skies and extortionate cost of, well... everything.

Yup, gone are those three-euro pitchers of sangria as big as your head. It’s back to struggle island.

If you’ve been feeling like this, you’re not alone: searches for ‘how to beat post-holiday blues’ have increased by 100% in the last 12 months.

With that in mind, the travel experts at SkyParkSecure have teamed up with GP and medical writer Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox to explain why we often suffer from post-holiday blues and what you can do about it.

Why do we experience post-holiday blues?

“After a holiday, it’s common to feel a range of emotions including sadness,” says Dr Lee.

But if you are struggling with post-holiday blues, also known as post-travel depression (PTD), try not to worry, she suggests.

“The key difference between PTD and anxiety and depression is that PTD is temporary and will resolve, although this can take several weeks.”

What causes it?

The big build-up of excitement for your holiday can lead to a feeling of disappointment once it’s all over. “It’s the natural let-down after the build-up, planning, and anticipation that the holiday is over,” explains Dr Lee.

“Cortisol levels fluctuate on holidays. High cortisol levels are a feature of stress. After the holiday, you go back to your normal routine and your cortisol levels may well fall, too.”

Here are some ways to get yourself back on track…

Think ahead

Getting prepped and packed for your holiday is stressful enough, but try to add some time to your diary to deep-clean your space so it’s nice and tidy for when you get back.

“Leave your house clean, tidy, and welcoming for your return, with bread and milk in the freezer and fresh sheets on the bed,” says Dr Lee. “If possible, try to get an extra day at home before returning to work to get organised.”

Be kind to yourself

After a week of cocktails, wine, rich food and late nights, it might be wise to do a reset when you get home.

“Make sure you have a proper sleep regime with seven hours of good-quality sleep per night,” says Dr Lee.

“Eat a nutritious diet and get regular exercise. Keep well-hydrated, drinking at least two litres of water daily. Stop drinking alcohol or at least cut down to the recommended limit of 14 units per week.”

And don’t forget to schedule time into your busy day to relax.

Keep connected

It might also help to make sure you spend time with your favourite people on your return, recommends Dr Lee.

Psychologists have said that direct contact with people triggers our nervous system to regulate how we react to stress and anxiety, helping to reduce negative feelings.

“Don’t have an empty diary. Contact friends and family and get some social events booked,” she says. “Humans need other humans. Loneliness is as dangerous for health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day! This is also a good opportunity to share your holiday memories with others.”

Plan another break

The best way to get over a finished holiday? Plan another one!

And if the post-holiday blues are going on for a while after you come home, Dr Lee recommends seeing your GP, as “it could be a sign you have more serious underlying psychological issues”.