Post-Vacation Anxiety Is Real. Here's What an Expert Says You Can Do About It

Studies show that 87% of people experience anxiety or stress coming back to work after a vacation.

There's too much truth in that expression “I need a vacation from my vacation.” It's also something that feels so asinine to say—complaining about the privilege of taking time off, going somewhere fun, spending money in a way that can only be called frivolous. But it's real! Vacations are exhausting as much as they are enriching, and they also serve as an extreme contrast between your “real” life and how you'd probably prefer to spend your time.

At least, none of us are alone in feeling that post-vacation anxiety. Studies show that at least 87% of the American workforce experience anxiety or stress when starting work again after vacation. That's actually pretty dire if you think about it—and this stat makes it less surprising that Americans take so few of the few vacation days we do actually get. But it's not all doom and gloom—this stress isn't an inevitable tax on our time off, even if the corporate world benefits from us believing that. Like every person recovering from religious trauma is slowly learning: there doesn't need to be punishment for experiencing pleasure.

Sleep experts over at Happy Beds partnered with sleep psychologist Dr. Katherine Hall to share some very helpful tips to nip those post holiday blues right in the bud.

"As a sleep psychologist, I've had the opportunity to observe and understand why post-vacation blues and difficulty sleeping the night before going back to work are so common. It's a fascinating interplay of psychological and physiological factors," Hall explained in a statement shared with Thrillist. "During vacations, individuals experience a shift in their daily routines, including their sleep patterns. Those irregular sleep schedules and disruptions in circadian rhythms can make it challenging for the body to readjust when it's time to return to work, leading to sleep disturbances and difficulty falling asleep on the night before resuming work."

"Resuming work responsibilities after a rejuvenating holiday can also evoke feelings of anxiety and stress," Hall continued. "Worries about pending tasks, workloads, or potential challenges can lead to racing thoughts and heightened physiological arousal, making it tough to unwind and fall asleep effectively the night before as well."

Here is what she advises to get back into your rhythm with as little stress as possible:

1. Gradually adjust your sleep schedule before you go back to work.
2. Going back to work on a Monday? Avoid a Sunday afternoon nap.
3. Skip scrolling on your phone and read for just SIX minutes to reduce your stress levels.
4. Struggling to fall asleep? Try this acupressure hack that takes just two minutes: 
"Try rubbing the inner part of your wrist, where you'll find four acupressure points known as Heart 4, 5, 6, and 7. These points are renowned for their stress-relieving properties, as they help reduce cortisol levels, the infamous stress hormones. By gently applying pressure to these points, you can alleviate stress and create a more serene environment for falling asleep," Hall advised.
5. If you're anxious the night before and need help calming down, you should add a towel-wrapped ice pack to your chest and hold it there for 15 minutes.
6. To alleviate morning stress and set the stage for a smooth work week, pick your outfit the night before.
7. Go for a sun-soaked walk before you log on and start your shift for the first time.

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.