Equipment, Mental

Post-holiday depression: how to get back to work without too much stress

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We should be happy, but we are not. Coming back from holiday and moving from the beach to the desk - whether in the office, the living room or the classroom - is never easy. It's quite the opposite. Just the thought of getting back to the routine feels a kind of uneasiness, a sense of bewilderment, of melancholy. It is a feeling that could even thwart the beneficial effects of those days enjoyed in total freedom, and can have serious repercussions on both work and social life. According to the latest ISTAT surveys, one person in two suffers from this condition, known as post-holiday depression. The term encompasses the feeling of sadness or depression.

Post-holiday stress is an increasingly widespread syndrome that manifests itself in a feeling of dizziness, decreased attention, headaches, apathy and mood swings. It also often causes digestive difficulties and sleeplessness. Some of these symptoms are interrelated: if you don't get enough sleep at night, it's easy to feel your head spinning the next day. In short, it's a kind of domino effect that causes a heavy burden on daily life, explains Dr Elvira Simona Solimando, a psychotherapist at the Santagostino Medical Centre in Milan.

Why does all this happen? The transition from holidays to everyday life can feel like making a too-rapid switch from analogue to digital time. You go from a fluid time, which includes no schedules or deadlines and consists of pure relaxation, to a digital time where punctuality, precision and deadlines are demanded. The human mind, by its nature, prefers fluid and relaxed moments. This transition from analogue to digital becomes a source of stress for the body, which finds itself in an abnormal situation, explains the doctor. But that is not all. When we return home, we often have to deal with the work that has accumulated: bureaucratic issues, household chores or even what we trivially - in the best Latin version - leave pending because "I'll think about it in September, with a clear mind...". To the difference in the quality of time (holidays vs. city) we add the amount of work. And stress increases.

This inability to handle the post-holiday routine affects men and women democratically, regardless of gender. "It is not a question of gender, but of personality. People who are more anxious by nature, those who tend to plan and have everything under control, are more directly exposed. For these people, any change is destabilising because they are unable to cope with the unexpected," explains the psychotherapist.

What can we do to stop post-holiday depression or, if possible, to prevent it?

If possible, it would be a good idea to return home a few days earlier so that the body and mind can readjust. Coming straight back to work or study after a long break is never a good idea. It is essential to approach the routine gradually. You should avoid "everything and immediately", and approach tasks calmly and progressively, perhaps taking some time to recharge, concludes Dr Solimando. If you could divide your holidays over the year, as is the case in other countries, instead of concentrating them all in August, you could rest without losing the rhythm of work.

The best allies? Correct nutrition and physical activity

It should be noted that sport is a good way to get used to the rhythm of work. Physical activity, if practised constantly, allows the mind to switch off. This is why, once you return home, it would be useful to resume (or for first-timers, finally start) physical activity. Whether it's running outdoors (weather permitting), a game of football with friends, a brisk walk or a training session at the gym, it doesn't matter: just stay active.

Source: Technogym

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