How are you feeling after your summer break? Refreshed? Raring to go? Or just a bit low? Results of a YouGov survey released this week showed that 39 per cent of respondents, who were all residents of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are feeling anxious about going back to work or school this week. Undertaken on behalf of the online shopping platform AliExpress, the survey also reported that 56 per cent of people are experiencing the post-holiday blues, resulting in mood swings, sleepless nights and reduced productivity in the workplace.
The start of the school year signals a slight return to normality in the UAE, where lots of people take prolonged summer breaks and the sweltering heat seems to drag on interminably. Even though it probably won’t cool down for at least another month, mentally, we’re all breathing a sigh of relief because we feel like we’ve made it through the worst of it. There was an actual breeze when I walked the dog this morning – and while it would be a stretch to call it cool, it didn’t feel like I was walking headlong into a giant hairdryer, for a change.
Nonetheless, settling back into your post-holiday routine can be tricky. Whether you’ve been relaxing on a beach in the Mediterranean, ambling through historic European cities, getting spa treatments in Sri Lanka, or have spent the past few weeks surrounded by extended family in the familiar, nostalgia-imbued surrounds of home, transitioning back to real life can be a painful process.
“Although ‘post-holiday blues’ is not recognised as a disorder, it is actually a very real and normal reaction when one has been on holiday, had a break from the norm and then returned back to the routines and responsibilities of everyday life,” Annie Crookes, head of psychology at Heriot-Watt University’s Dubai campus, said in response to the AliExpress survey.
“Post-holiday blues is something we should acknowledge and deal with when we experience it. It is a withdrawal of sorts from the excitement and novelty of holiday fun. So the absence of it can have a converse effect, resulting in mood swings, lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating back at work. Sometimes, it may come across almost like a mild depression.”
Close to 40 per cent of the survey’s respondents admitted that they would be relying on retail therapy to lift themselves out of their post-holiday slump, but my fail-safe strategy is to ensure that there’s already another holiday in the pipeline. You don’t need to completely finalise plans, but just thinking about your next break will go some way in easing those blues.
If that’s not feasible, start getting some fun activities in the diary. Agree to meet all those friends you’ve missed over the summer; book a table at your favourite restaurant; take an early morning swim in the sea; or plan a staycation. Basically, start reminding yourself of the best things about living in this country.
Treat the end of the summer and the beginning of the school term like the start of a new year – a new UAE year. Make a couple of unofficial resolutions and try to achieve them before 2018 comes to a close. And unpack that suitcase. Having it lying around will only make things worse.
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