Seven Ways to Deal with Post-Holiday Depression

In this article, discover how to deal with post-holiday depression.
Seven Ways to Deal with Post-Holiday Depression
Marián Carrero Puerto

Written and verified by the psychologist Marián Carrero Puerto.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

The end of your holidays is here and you know what that means. For one, it means the end of cookouts and cold beers in your backyard, your neighbor’s, or at the beach. And what’s even worse, the end of getting up as late as you want. Unfortunately, now that holidays are almost over, you must return to your work routine. Perhaps you even have to deal with the monster of post-holiday depression.

Trying to overcome post-holiday depression is no easy task. Even more so after the pace of life you so got used to during the holidays. Ah, the excesses you could afford… sleeping late, partying more than usual, and eating lots of food. In short, you entirely forgot about the characteristic discipline of your routine in order to relax and enjoy yourself. However, you know you can’t keep it up the rest of the year, even if you wish.

Furthermore, although it isn’t easy to overcome post-holiday depression, it isn’t impossible either. So, with that in mind, we’d like to give some tips on how to return to your work routine and your usual pace of life. This way the process of returning won’t be so hard on you.

“When he worked, he really worked. But when he played, he really PLAYED.”

-Dr. Seuss-

What’s Post-Holiday Depression?

Post-holiday depression is a syndrome experienced by some people after they return from vacation, hence the name. We’d like to make it clear that we’re not speaking of clinical depression. Only as a state of feeling sorry for yourself in which nostalgia, sadness, and/or apathy get a hold of you.

Also, this “syndrome” isn’t a mental pathology, only an “adaptive disorder”. Those who are afflicted by it present specific symptoms, when it comes to a specific stressor. The return to a work routine, in this case. This is because the level of tension decreased a lot during the holidays and so now you must recover it again. You’ll need it in order to face the demands of your old daily routine.

A man sitting in the dark.

Thus, retaking the aforementioned routine (be it work at home or at an office or at school) definitely produces irritability, discouragement, sadness, feelings of apathy, and/or sleeping problems. Furthermore, studies show as many as 25 % of people in the US suffer from some degree of depression after the holidays.

Ways to Overcome Post-Holiday Depression

1. Get Up Early a Few Days Before

It may seem counterintuitive and even cruel, but if you get up early at least one or two days before going back to your routine it’ll be easier to go back to it. This is because you’re preconditioned to, once again, follow your regular schedule.

2. Don’t Return to Work Right after Your Last Day of Vacation

Like the previous measure, this will help you get used to part of your regular routine at home. By doing so, you’ll be able to gradually start thinking about your needs at home, same that include your need to have a job so you can go on with your life as you know it (and have the cash to pay for your next holidays).

3. Divide Your Vacation Days

People with longer vacation periods are a lot more likely to be affected by post-holiday depression. Thus, you should compartmentalize your days as much as possible in order to make your return to routine less abrupt.

4. Find the Positive Side

Practicing mindfulness or another type of meditation technique at regular intervals can drive away negative thoughts and irrational ideas –which are the main sources of anxiety. If you interpret the end of your holidays positively, then you’ll make it easier on yourself. This is definitely possible if you stop thinking that returning to your routine is a burden. Try to focus on a different perspective. Of course, if returning to your old routine is, in fact, a burden and you absolutely hate it, then, begin to develop a plan to change it. You’re in charge.

5. Set Your Alarm Clock to Ten Minutes Earlier than Usual

Especially throughout your first days of readjustment to your old routine, leaving your bed a little earlier will help you have more time to organize yourself. It’ll also help you avoid haste and unnecessary stress.

A woman shutting down the alarm clock.

6. Don’t Load Yourself with Work Tasks on Your First Day

In line with the previous point, in order to make your return a lot more bearable, do so gradually, little by little. Begin with those tasks that don’t require a high level of pressure.

7. Do Healthy Activities on the Days Prior to Your Return to Work

Finally, even if it isn’t something directly related to work or to your daily routine, doing sports, and readopting a healthier diet throughout the days before your return will also improve your ability to adapt.

This is because, in addition to helping you release endorphins (the small proteins responsible for making you feel happy, relaxed, and optimistic), exercise also makes it possible to free your mind of stress. Instead, you concentrating on the execution of your physical activity.


In short, the most important thing is for you to make the transition from vacation to your routine as smooth as possible. Keep a positive attitude to accept the reasons that will inspire you to return to your post-holiday reality.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Lavilla Rayo, J. (2012). Síndrome postvacacional. Clínica Universidad de Navarra.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.