It takes three days to 'get back to normal' after a holiday, research reveals

The post-holiday blues not only affect our mood – our sleep pattern struggles too

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It’s important to give yourself a break every now and then, and for many people, that means a much-needed holiday. But vacations don’t always leave us feeling as refreshed as we would like.

New research has found that it takes at least three days to return to a normal sleep pattern after a holiday, increasing to four days after a two-week break.

The findings are based on a survey of 2,000 participants carried out by vitamin and supplement company Healthspan.

"Taking time to unwind and relax is vital for overall physical and mental health, but many people may struggle pre and post-holiday," says psychologist Dr Meg Arroll. "Although holidays can be great at making us forget about the toils of day-to-day life, many of us find it hard to readjust when they're over."

Six in 10 people surveyed cited getting back into the morning routine as the hardest part of re-adjusting to everyday life after a trip, while four in 10 admitted to feeling anxious before returning to work. A quarter said they add an extra day of annual leave to help ease themselves back into life.

"The survey also found the majority of people spend two days of their holiday feeling anxious about work," Dr Arroll said. "If you think that many people only have a week holiday, two days consumed with work anxiety is a big chunk out of their break."

A third of people surveyed also said they slept better on holiday, compared to one in five who believed their sleep was worse while they were away.

Here are some tips for settling back into work after a holiday:

Take an extra day

If annual leave allows, it’s always nice to give yourself a day to adjust and unwind before heading back to the office. From doing your washing to preparing meals, that extra time can help you feel relaxed and settled before dealing with work, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Try to get back into your routine

It can be easy to treat the days after a holiday as though you are still on vacation, taking time off from your regular exercise routine or diet. But getting straight back into these things will help you to settle, and not feel like such a burden when you have to start them again the following week.

Make a to-do list

Going back to work after a couple of weeks out can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start. Make a to-do list before heading back into the office, and update it once you have been through your inbox – that way you can prioritise and work through tasks pragmatically.

Get some early nights

We know this can be hard if you have travelled through time zones, but even if you are struggling to sleep, getting into bed and reading a book will help you to feel relaxed. Try not to stay up watching television or on your phone, as you will feel worse.

Plan another trip

The post-vacation blues can be hard to overcome, but it can be a good time to think about where you would like to go next. Spend some time researching destinations and you will soon start to feel excited and begin looking ahead rather than backwards.