So that was the summer holiday, folks – much anticipated, blissfully enjoyed, and over far too quickly. The trouble with holidays is that they come to an end. One minute you’re lying on the beach, the sun on your skin, thinking about which cocktail you’ll order in the evening; the next you’re back home facing a mountain of dirty washing, dead houseplants, 643 urgent emails and nothing to look forward to. So how can you get through this wall of post-holiday misery?
‘Unpack immediately,’ says my neighbour. ‘There’s nothing more depressing than tripping over suitcases for the next fortnight.’
If you look and feel a million dollars, don’t waste it. Parade down the aisles in Woolies, take up gymnastics or throw a large party.
Take it easy
Don’t volunteer for any huge projects at work. Aim for a couple of short working weeks and include enough time to plan your next trip.
Think of a colour you loved on holiday – blue sky in Cornwall, lavender fields in Provence. Redecorate, or paint just one wall and your sunny mood will continue.
Life seems delightfully simple when your possessions fit into one suitcase. Resolve to streamline your surroundings. As Cassie Tillett of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organiserts says, ‘It’s not about getting rid of everything, but clearing the space for what’s important to you.’
Family holidays usually involve group activities chosen by majority vote, so reclaim a bit of selfish relaxation. ‘Blitz the washing/emails/bills,’ says my friend Annabelle, ‘and then do something you’ve secretly missed.’ Whatever it is – playing the piano, going to a yoga class or just listening to the radio in the bath – relish the solitude.
Spend as much time outdoors as possible. One of the reasons we feel so well on holiday is that we spend time in natural daylight rather than shut away under strip lighting. Even if you can’t spend your days at the beach, you can still escape every day for a brisk half-hour walk. There’s also anecdotal evidence, says Dr Jan Davidson of the Chromotherapy Research Foundation, that jet lag can be eased by exposure to high-energy orange light, particularly if it is shone where the skin is thinnest – on the wrists, behind the knees or just above the navel.
If you’ve been eating fresh fish, fruit and vegetables on holiday, keep up the good habits on your return. As Claire MacEvilly from MRC Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge says, the key is choosing fresh foods low in fat – and perhaps learning the Mediterranean wisdom of keeping portion sizes smaller.
Relive the memory
Pretend you’re still on holiday. Close your eyes and paint a picture in your mind of sea, sand and smiling faces. Next year, try NLP, or Neuro Linguistic Programming. As Clive Teal from the Institute of Complementary and Natural Medicine says, ‘NLP teaches us that feelings and emotions can be anchored on to the body. When you’re on holiday and experiencing a really profound feeling of peace, press the tips of your ring finger and thumb together.’ Do this when you come back, and the feeling will return.
Get out of the rut
You can’t change train times, the greyness of the recession or the irritating way your boss sneezes, but you can resolve not to sink back into a rut. Promise yourself you will try one new thing every day – whether it’s liquorice root tea, a different route to work, or just keeping the television switched off. A change, as they say, is as good as a holiday.
So here’s wishing you a fantastic year – and it’s only eleven months till next Christmas!
Written by Marianne Kavanagh, this article appeared in The Daily Telegraph