How to beat the post-holiday blues
Struggling to regain momentum after the summer break? Tanya Sweeney asks the experts for advice on everything from keeping your holiday glow to cleaning out your inbox
Whether it's caravanning in Wexford or going full-on glam in Waikiki, the feeling of stepping off-grid for a summer break is hard to beat. Lavish cocktails, ripping through a full Kindle, sunshine, local cuisine… what's not to like?
Well, the post-trip comedown, for one. As the sun sets and the tan fades, the reality of the 9 to 5 grind and the humdrum of everyday life kicks back in.
It's rarely pleasant, but according to the experts, there are a few ways of making sure that the first week back in the real world isn't the body blow you're expecting.
How to keep that post-holiday glow
According to Elena Costello on the Brown Thomas Beauty Style Team, hydration is key for holding on to a golden glow.
"I always recommend using a nourishing body oil on the skin after you've been exposed to the sun," she says. "Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil (100ml, €47) contains hazelnut oil, which is essential for softening the skin and locking in moisture, while Sisley's Self-Tanning Hydrating Facial Skin Care (60ml, €101) is a self-tanning skincare product that contains incredibly nourishing ingredients that beautifies the complexion, prolongs your tan and perfects skin."
How to get a non-holiday eating regime back on track
Sadly, it's time to wave sayonara to the buffets, Mai Tais and dessert with everything.
"With the fine weather it's very easy to slip into bad habits with wine, ice creams, not so healthy BBQs and not getting daily physical activity," says Margaret O'Neill, HSE National Dietetic Advisor.
"There is no quick fix and remember, detox diets are not recommended. Encourage your family, friends and workmates to join in to get everyone back on track following holidays. Bring your lunch to work - plan your food for a couple of weeks until you get back into healthy habits.
"And encourage workmates not to bring back chocolate/sweets as an office gift after holidays - it can lead to continuous treats in the office over the summer months."
How to adjust your post-holiday mindset
Be honest: as you drag your suitcase off the airport carousel, are you more inclined to think, 'Wow, my tank is nice and full after that break' or 'Here we go, back to the same old routine'? According to Sharron Grainger, lead psychologist at the Connolly Counselling Centre in Stillorgan (counsellor.ie), it's so much more helpful to keep focused on the former.
"Remind yourself that the time you spent away from your usual monotonous routine is an important aspect for recharging your batteries," she explains.
"It's understandable that it can take a few days to get back into the swing of normality, so try to include aspects of your holiday in your regular day. Whether that was eating better food or drinking more water to rehydrate, no matter how small the change - it all matters! Also, don't just sit around wallowing - start thinking about your next holiday and make a plan."
How to keep the best parts of the holiday alive
According to motivational coach James Sweetman, keeping the post-holiday blues at bay could mean injecting more fun into your life at home. "On holiday, most people tend to be more social, going out and having fun," he explains. "How can you reconnect with the holiday spirit by being more social at home? That could mean arranging to meet up with friends, planning a night out or visiting a local tourist attraction. We don't have to be on holiday to savour the holiday spirit. The evenings are still long, so stick the earphones in and go for a walk. It is difficult to boost our motivation or energy levels stretched out on the sofa…"
How to reach inbox nirvana
According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, the average office worker spends close to two-and-a-half hours tending to their inbox a day - almost 28pc of the time they are at work.
Other research states that of the 200 emails the average employee receives a day, 36 are spam, 144 are irrelevant and 20 are useful. Factor in a fortnight away and a disconcerted effort not to peek at your phone, and that inbox starts to look like the stuff of nightmares.
"Do an hour in the morning to answer whatever has come in," suggests business etiquette coach Pamela Fay (pamelafay.ie).
"I try to read and respond to most emails immediately, however if it is an important decision, I would draft the response and come back to it later in the day to ensure that the tone is appropriate. After the hour in the morning, I close down email and return to it once at lunchtime for an hour and then ideally the last hour of the day. This allows me to get on with my job, otherwise I would be a slave to email and to other people's agendas, which is not very effective.
"If you are being cc'ed on many emails and you want to reduce this, then ask to be taken off the email list. Otherwise, if you want to be particularly cut-throat about it, do a very quick skim to find mails pertaining to urgent/current projects, and junk the rest. If it's genuinely important, that person will likely remember that you've been away (thanks to your out-of-office reply), and will send a follow-on email."
How to financially recover
Those tacky souvenirs may look cheap, but they don't come cheap. And if you've come home with a light wallet, you certainly wouldn't be the first. John Lowe, aka The Money Doctor, argues that credit cards - a great foreign trip staple - are a major culprit.
"Most people come back off holiday with their credit cards bulging on all sides.
If they paid the minimum amount each month, it will take them 20 years to pay that debt. If your credit history is good, you could consider transferring that balance to one of four credit card providers who offer 0pc interest on the transfer for up to six months (KBC Bank, Permanent TSB and Tesco Clubcard) or seven months (Bank of Ireland). It gives you time to either pay off over that period and so clear your credit card in time for the next outing... or come up with another debt-reducing idea."
How to reset your body clock
Messing about with your body clock is a dangerous business, and can leave you feeling low or even unwell.
"Our body's circadian rhythm adapts within days," explains Sara Kyat, GP and founder of GP-on-demand app GPDQ, "so I suggest we use this (slightly annoying) opportunity to reset our own sleeping habits. Go to bed and set your alarm so that you are getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep a night, wake up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends) and stop pressing that snooze button.
"With the earlier sunrises you may even find it difficult to sleep until your alarm, and if that is the case, consider blackout curtains or sleeping masks. But, personally, I would suggest embracing those early mornings."