You’ve spent three weeks under the hot sun, drinking margaritas on the beach and drowning out the world with your favorite tunes: the call of the seagulls, the crash of the waves, and the soft flutter of a breeze across your beach umbrella.
Now comes the day you’ve been dreading since you set out. You’re packing up your suitcase, taking one last look at the beach you’ll soon have to leave behind for the confines of your neighborhood, your office job, and the depression you thought you’d left behind.
Vacations have a way of easing depression symptoms in some people, providing a much-needed break from all of the stressors that impact us in our daily life. However, you’ll likely find that your depression rears its head once more when you get back home. You might start zoning out at work or home, dreaming of that beach spot you can’t wait to get back to, making it harder to focus on the things around you.
Here’s how to beat post-vacation depression.
If you’re already suffering from depression or notice some symptoms appearing recently, you’ll want to be ready for it once you get back home. A vacation can sometimes act like a temporary band-aid, putting you in an environment that’s more relaxing and less prone to agitate your condition. Returning home can cause those negative feelings to come flooding back into your mind, so you’ll need to be prepared.
What do you normally do to take care of yourself during a depressive episode? Self-care is incredibly important even when you’re not on vacation. Prepare yourself for possible symptoms and understand that they’re unavoidable.
Being prepared to deal with your depression once you get back home can make the entire process a bit easier. After all, if you know the problem is going to occur, you can bolster your defenses before it happens.
Maintain A Routine
The experts agree that maintaining a routine of some sort for your daily life helps combat depression. When you start letting sleep and eat schedules fall out of line, it can severely impact both physical and mental health; making your depression that much worse.
Be sure you’re getting to bed on time and getting a good night’s sleep. Wake up at the same time every day, and have a self-care ritual prepared either before bed or when you first wake up. Some things you can do are:
- Take a hot bath
- Read your favorite book
- Set aside quiet time for meditation or relaxing
- Practice breathing exercises
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Spend time with your support figures
Enlist Professional Help
When you’re depression becomes such that it severely affects how you navigate everyday life or causes suicidal ideas or thoughts of self-harm, you should seek help. While we’re confined to our homes for social distancing for at least another few months, there are plenty of online resources available to help you get through until you can physically meet with a counselor.
Online therapy is becoming a popular option for those who don’t have the time to make it to an office appointment. Most online therapists accept a wide variety of insurance plans and can more easily work around your schedule without the restriction of an office. And, of course, everyone follows the COVID-19 guidelines this way.
Plan Your Next Vacation
We get it, you just can’t wait until your next vacation (neither can I). Why not start planning as soon as you get home? While your next escape might be a long way off, planning it now has a twofold effect: it allows you to look forward to something and occupy your mind and could potentially save you money.
Booking flights as early as possible is a good way to save money (especially right now when flights are cheaper than usual). You’ll be able to plan every detail of your vacation down to the last minute, and you’ll be keeping your mind from idling.
Maybe next time, you’ll visit a historic town or one of the wonders of the world. Perhaps a trip to the Swiss Alps or Cancun is in order?
It’s Ok To Feel This Way
Acceptance is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of having depression. With so much stigma and misunderstanding about mental illness in our society, depressed people often find themselves feeling ashamed of their illness. Let’s make this as clear as possible: it’s ok to feel depressed. Depression isn’t something you can just turn off, and it’s not your fault that you’re suffering from it.
We can only hope that as we learn more about the illness and the people affected by it, we’ll start to see a general shift in the public eye toward understanding and compassion. Until then, know you’re not alone in your struggle, and there are plenty of resources available both online and off to help you along the way.