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Vacation Hangover: Why Don't I Feel Refreshed After Vacation?

We all dream of going on a relaxing vacation where we can escape our routines, unwind and rejuvenate. But what if, even after returning home, we still feel tired, restless, and foggy? This is called a vacation hangover, and it’s more common than you might think.

In this blog post, we'll explore some reasons why people might not feel refreshed after a vacation, solutions, and recommendations that can help you recover and get back to your routine feeling better than ever.

Too Much Activity and Emotional Stress During Vacation

Vacations can be a time of high activity levels and emotional stress. Whether it's trying to fit too much into your schedule or dealing with family dynamics, going on a vacation can be overwhelming.

All of this stress can lead to post-vacation burnout, resulting in brain fog, fatigue, and a general feeling of exhaustion. If you’ve been feeling drained, to begin with, try to plan a relaxing vacation, and be mindful of the activities you plan in your day.

Finding Calm Amid Vacation Chaos

  1. Practice mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help manage stress and anxiety during your vacation.

  2. Set aside some time for self-care activities like taking a relaxing bath, getting a massage, or going for a leisurely walk in nature.

  3. Prioritize activities that you enjoy and that bring you a sense of calm, such as reading a book, listening to music, or spending time with loved ones.

  4. Allow yourself to take breaks and rest when needed. Don't feel pressured to constantly be on the go or participate in every activity.

  5. Create a flexible itinerary that allows for downtime and relaxation. Be open to adjusting your plans if needed to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Sudden Change in Schedule and Routine

Vacations by themselves can be stressful. Our bodies crave consistency, and when we suddenly remove that routine, our bodies can get out of whack. When we're on vacation, we may sleep more, wake up later or earlier, or eat at different times.

This sudden change in routine can affect your body’s internal clock, and when you return, it can make it challenging to get back to normal. Try to ease back into your regular schedule, getting enough sleep and following your regular mealtime.

Tips for Coping with Routine Changes

  1. Gradually adjust your sleep schedule: Start a few days before your trip ends by waking up and going to bed at times closer to your regular routine. This can help your body adjust more easily when you return.

  2. Plan your meals: If possible, try to eat at similar times as you would at home, and opt for healthier options to avoid feeling sluggish or bloated.

  3. Take care of yourself: Practicing self-care can help you feel more grounded and centered during this transition period. Consider incorporating activities such as meditation, gentle exercise, or a relaxing bath into your routine to help you ease back into your daily life.

Post-Vacation Blues

After being off for days or even weeks, it can be difficult to return to your usual routine. Post-vacation blues can leave you feeling down, unmotivated, and tired. You may spend more time reminiscing about your vacation than focusing on the present moment.

Engage in activities you enjoy and connect with friends and family in your downtime rather than continually scrolling through social media, looking at vacation photos.

5 Ways to Get Back into the Swing of Things

  1. Plan something to look forward to: Whether it's a weekend getaway or a dinner with friends, having something to look forward to can help ease the post-vacation blues.

  2. Prioritize self-care: Take some time for yourself to recharge and relax. Try taking a bubble bath, reading a book, or doing some yoga.

  3. Reflect on your vacation: Instead of dwelling on the end of your vacation, focus on the positive experiences you had and the memories you made. Write them down or create a photo album to help you remember and cherish those moments.

  4. Set realistic goals: Don't expect to jump back into your routine right away. Set small, achievable goals to help you ease back into work and daily life.

  5. Stay active: Exercise can help boost your mood and energy levels. Try going for a walk or run, joining a yoga class, or finding an activity that you enjoy.

Overworking Before and After Vacation

Very often, we may try to squeeze in extra hours at work before going on vacation to finish off projects or to make sure everything is in order. Similarly, when you return, you may have to put in extra hours at work. This can make it hard to fully recharge, leading to vacation hangover. Plan out your work before you leave for vacation and space out your work once you return.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Avoid Vacation Hangover at the Office

  1. Prioritize and plan ahead: Identify the most important tasks that need to be done before your vacation and prioritize them. Make a list and start tackling them one by one. This will help you avoid the last-minute rush and ensure that everything is in order before you leave.

  2. Delegate: If possible, delegate some of your work to your colleagues before you go on vacation. This can help reduce your workload and ensure that everything is taken care of while you are away.

  3. Give yourself time to catch up: When you return from vacation, don't expect to jump back into work immediately. Give yourself a day or two to catch up on emails, get organized, and plan out your work. This can help you ease back into work and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Too Short of a Vacation

Lastly, many people take vacations but only return to work with a day or two to spare. They might feel rushed, panicked or frustrated. This can result in vacation hangover, where you're not quite caught up on rest and relaxation, leaving you feeling like you didn't get a proper break. Plan your vacations to fit in at least a few days, and slowly transition so you feel prepared and energized for the week ahead.

Pro-Tip: Schedule some buffer time. Give yourself a few days between the end of your vacation and the start of work. Use this time to unpack, rest, and catch up on anything you need to do before returning to work.


Vacation hangover is an unpleasant experience that can leave you feeling drained and unmotivated. With proper planning and some mindful practices, it is a manageable feeling.

Keep in mind that the best way to avoid vacation hangover is to plan a relaxing vacation or holiday that allows you to unwind completely, even with some fun activities planned. Take your time getting back to your routine; there’s no rush. Focus on yourself and what makes you happy, and you’ll find yourself recovering quickly from the vacation blues!


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