Why Do I Feel So Exhausted After Taking a Holiday?

By: Steff Willis

It’s so often the case – we book in that holiday and we look forward to some much needed rest and relaxation.

But often we come back from our holidays even more tired than before we left. Why is this and how can we change it?

In a recent interview, clinical psychologist Valerie Ling explains that we often feel exhausted because we try and cram all our rest and recovery needs into one holiday.

Valerie leads an award-winning psychology practice in Sydney called The Centre For Effective Living where they serve a global community blending Valerie’s burnout prevention approach with gold standard clinical psychology practices.

3 Types of Rest and Recovery

Valerie identified three primary needs that we should address regularly throughout the year rather than solely on our holidays.

Firstly, we require regular mental breaks to recharge from the heavy mental load we carry on a daily basis. This includes consciously switching off from work on weekends and finding moments of rest throughout the year.

Secondly, we all have a need for connection, especially in a society where loneliness is prevalent. Building regular routines that foster connection can prevent us from relying solely on holidays to fulfill this need.

Lastly, our physical bodies need rest. Good sleep and periodic rest are crucial throughout the year to ensure we don’t enter a holiday already depleted.

“If you’re not having some regular pit stops through the year that are meeting those rest and recovery needs, we then have a lot of expectations for what the outcomes should be of that holiday,” Valerie said. “We end up doing too much and being too switched on, so we don’t actually come back feeling rested.”

What Makes a Great Holiday

According to Valerie, a good holiday is one where we can let go of responsibilities and truly unwind. Leaving work-related devices and concerns behind and embracing the opportunity for deep sleep and immersion in nature are key elements of a restful holiday.

“I think a good holiday is really one where you come back with a sense of not, ‘oh, look what we achieved’, but really a sense of pure joy at some of the memories you created, some of the new experiences you had, and for a deep sense of perspective that not all of life is about work or the hustle or the struggle”.

While exploring new places can be exciting, the destination itself does not dictate the quality of our holiday. Valerie suggests that we need to be realistic about what we can afford and what truly aligns with our needs. Creating cherished memories and meaningful experiences can be achieved in various ways, whether it’s a budget-friendly camping trip or a grand overseas adventure.

Planning Ahead and Setting Expectations

To ensure that your holidays are truly restful and fulfilling, Valerie recommends intentional planning including maximising public holidays and long weekends and even including a run up and run down period for trips.

“If you’re going to go away for seven days of holidays, the first three days you’re gonna still be thinking about work and then you have a short break, and then the last two days you’re thinking about work. Budget in that run up and run down period into your holiday.”

Building this time into your holiday helps to set expectations and allows you to fully disconnect and immerse in the holiday experience.

Understanding why we feel exhausted after holidays and taking proactive steps to address our needs throughout the year can significantly enhance our holiday experiences. By prioritizing regular rest and recovery, setting realistic expectations, and embracing affordable alternatives, we can ensure that our precious holiday time truly serves its purpose of providing rest, rejuvenation, and adventure.

For more resources and tips on avoiding burnout, check out Valerie’s website.


Article supplied with thanks to 96five.

Feature image: Photo by Danila Hamsterman on Unsplash

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