As summer starts winding down and schools are beginning to start up again, most people are ending their summer vacations and trying to get back to work. However, a lot of us experience vacation hangovers - getting up in the morning to go to work feels more like running Tough Mudder, much less getting back to exercising regularly.
What's the cure?
The following tips are preventative, for you to keep in mind while you are on vacation:
- Keep the same sleep-wake schedule when you are on vacation. I know, I know. You're on vacation, and you want to sleep in, but sleeping in actually messes with our circadian rhythms and throws our bodies out of balance. This makes it harder for us to reach a balance of rest vs. activity throughout the vacay-days. In addition to the increased physical activity that most people experience, having a wacky sleep-wake schedule is often a big culprit of why we feel so exhausted at the end of a vacay day. Maintaining the same schedule will not only help you maintain your energy for the entire trip, but also make it easier to transition back to home/work life after your vacation ends.
- If you are flying to a different time zone, you can ease your transition and prevent jet-lag by sleeping at your bedtime in that region's time zone (so 11pm there, not 11pm here). Try not to take naps during the day because it often interferes with your ability to fall asleep at night, which is a cookbook recipe for jet lag and vacation hangover.
- Maintain/adjust your exercise routine. If you are used to waking up at 6am to go for a run, keep doing that, whether you're camping or spending the day by the pool in Hawaii. Do keep in mind the extra physical activity during the day that you will engage in and adjust your workout accordingly to prevent fatigue.
- Maintain any morning or bedtime routines. You get the idea. Right?
If you were unable to do any of the above during your trip, or if you did but you still feel a nasty hangover, do the following:
- Break down that to-do list and do a tiny bit of each at a time. Oftentimes, the to-do list seems to blow up when we come home from a vacation. (Unpack. Do the laundry. Go grocery shopping. Cook. Clean. Pick up the dog. Take the dog out for a walk. Visit family. Call mom and tell her you're alive. Etc. ) It is never-ending, and during a vacation hangover, all of it is just overwhelming. But who said that you have to all of it within one or two days? Unpack one little pocket at a time, or one corner at a time. "I am going to just unpack my underwear right now. It should not take more than 5 minutes" sounds much better than, "Ok, time to unpack everything, now." And for goodness' sake, don't do more than one load of laundry in one sitting if you do not want to. Spread out the loads over a couple of weeks if you have to! Just maybe keep your bedroom door closed when and if you have friends over pre-finished-laundry day. So figure out how to break down those to-do activities into small activities, and then break those down into even smaller activities.
- Like the one above, sleep when you usually do. If you come home at 7am from overseas, and you want nothing else but to flump down into bed, pull the sheets over your head, and sleep for 15 hours, you must try to stay awake until your bedtime at the end of the day. Maybe take an alarmed 1-2 hour nap, but if you can hold out on sleep until 1-2 hours around your regular bedtime, you may be able to get back to your regular schedule faster.
And, of course, stay hydrated!