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Health & Balance

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After Vacation: Tips to Bounce Back Fast

Suffering from the post-vacation blues? Here's how to ease the re-entry into your regular life.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

For many people, a vacation is like a trip into space. The nerve-wracking blastoff takes place only after weeks of careful planning. Then a few days of serenity and peace are followed by a harrowing re-entry. The old routine may feel like the force of gravity after days of weightlessness -- a familiar burden that suddenly feels harder to bear. But with a bit of planning, you may find that you actually did get some rest on vacation and you are ready to resume your regular life again.

Tip No. 1: Plan a Smooth Return

A vacation meant to be relaxing actually can create post-vacation stress. Careful planning certainly can help the vacation itself go smoother, but a good recovery strategy afterward is essential.

Janet Keeler has learned to leave herself at least one free day after vacation before returning to work. As the food and travel editor of the St. Petersburg Times, she is never entirely free of her job.

"With a cell phone and Wi-Fi, we're more connected to work than ever before," she says.

On top of that, she and her husband Scott, a photographer for the paper, like to come back from vacation with at least one travel story, and maybe a story and some pictures for the food section too.

During a recent three-week vacation to California, for example, they visited "John Steinbeck country," taking pictures of Cannery Row and other places significant in the writer's life and fiction. Having the story all but written when she returns to work will help her get caught up.

She also made a point of going into the office on Sunday and plowing through the 1,000 emails that awaited her attention.

"I deleted about 95% of them," she says.

But the rigors of re-entry didn't end there. There was unpacking, and laundry, and an empty refrigerator, and their son's baseball schedule to attend to. After crossing three time zones their sleep cycle was a little off, too.

Tip No. 2: Watch Sleep and 2 Other Vacation Variables

Sleep, alcohol, and kids tend to be interrelated, says Michael Breus, PhD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.

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