3 ways to reduce post-vacation anxiety

It’s a Sunday night, you’re sun-kissed from vacation, and have just landed at Gerald R. Ford Grand Rapids airport. You’re waiting at baggage claim and as you wait for the carousel to beep and start circling, a creeping anxiety starts to build in your mind then your thoughts start to overwhelm. “What kind of food do I have in the fridge at home? What am I going to eat this week for lunch? Oh no, the gym. Are my pants feeling a little tight? Why didn’t I workout more while I was on vacation? I shouldn’t have drank all those piña coladas!”

Stress

We all know the feeling. The post-vacation, Sunday scaries. They often seem unavoidable, especially after a long, gluttonous vacation. I recently came back from a nice trip to Florida and these exact thoughts started swarming my mind. Before allowing my heart to start racing with anxiety, I took a deep breath and remembered why I went on this vacation in the first place…reset my mindset. Although these negative thoughts started rushing in, I was able to cut the thoughts at their roots before they had a chance to start growing into an actual thought process that wouldn’t lead to anything productive.

Often in the past I’d go into the work week working out harder and longer to try and make up for the lack of time I had spent in the gym on my vacation, cut back on my portion sizes, or eat a ton of salads for lunch and/or dinner to try and bounce back. Although my heart was in the right place, this type of behavior did not lead to anything healthy, whether that be mental health, physical fitness, or weight goals. dumbbells.jpg

It generally led to obsessive thoughts about food and my body, overeating due to restraining myself, and overall exhaustion from not meeting my “goals” for the week. Over the last few years, I’ve finally been able to ease back into my normal, healthy lifestyle by doing just three simple things.

  1. Ease yourself back into your routine organically. Do what feels right. For example, skipping the gym a few more days than normal or going on a walk instead of a run to allow your body to adapt to being back on a structured routine (both work and fitness-wise) is A-OK. Going out to eat or happy hour even though you know you don’t need those extra calories post-vacation. Skipping the salad at lunch and eating a sandwich instead because you’re feeling really hungry. These are just some of the many examples.
  2. Follow a few shortcuts when it comes to getting back to eating healthy. No time? No problem. Sometimes the whole planning all your meals for the week, grocery shopping for all the food items, and THEN having to meal prep it all can be a little daunting, especially when you also have a large stack of laundry to do. When you’re short on time, it’s best to get by with a little help from our friends. You know what I’m saying? Here are some examples.
    1. Use pre-baked rotisserie chicken to shred and apply to salads, sandwiches, or use with dinners throughout the week instead of having to make your own.
    2. Utilize pre-cut fruit and vegetables from the grocery store. They may be a little more expensive, but for the week you’re trying to ease yourself back into a schedule, this will save you a ton of time and headache.
    3. Lean on healthy, pre-packaged meals to limp you along 😉 Examples include Nourish bowls, Daily Harvest smoothies, salad kits, salmon or tuna salad pouches, Greek yogurt kits, Blue Apron meals, etc.
  3. Listen to and trust your body. Avoid being too hard on yourself. Allow yourself some grace when it comes to getting back on a schedule after being on a vacation. It’s easy to let those anxious thoughts to invade your mind, but it’s not always easy to stop and remind yourself that a little relaxation was what your body and mind needed. Remember health is not just physical, but also mental. The beauty of following a healthy lifestyle is there will be times, days, or weeks where you get off track but ebbs and flows are what make it a lifestyle, not a diet. Therefore, you shouldn’t ever feel down on yourself for eating the pizza or taking the vacation. yoga.jpg

I hope you find this helpful! Feel free to comment with strategies that have worked well for you when transitioning from vacation mode back into everyday life.

-EAB