The vacation itself can be a source of stress, especially if you have strained relationships with fellow travellers, or if you experience unexpected travel delays. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Does it feel like years since you last went on a vacation… when it happened to be just weeks ago? And did that vacation actually leave you more tired than rejuvenated?

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where we learn why we often want to curl up and sleep after going on a supposedly relaxing ‘trip’.

Not all vacations are as energising or restorative as we hoped they would be. Have you ever fallen sick as soon as you’ve started your vacation? There’s a term for it – leisure sickness. The Collins English Dictionary describes it as ‘a medical condition in which people who have been working become ill with symptoms such as fatigue or muscular pains’. Other symptoms include migraines, nausea and flu-like symptoms.

According to a September 2023 report in the US-based business news website Harvard Business Review (HBR), the vacation itself can be a source of stress, especially if you have strained relationships with fellow travellers, or if you experience unexpected travel delays. Add to it the stress of pre-vacation tasks to get through, and the weight of impending workload and deadlines when you return, and that brief two-week holiday may crumble under all the pressure.

So, in order to avoid returning to work more exhausted than when you left, here are some steps you can take to refresh yourself, according to the HBR report:

1. Assess your health and energy

Acknowledge how you really feel. Assess your energy levels and take inventory of how you’re truly feeling in order to determine what you need. Several studies have shown that if you optimise your energy in certain areas of life, it can help boost wellbeing and performance, so try to focus on these things: sleep, movement, connection, time spent outdoors, relaxation and meaningful engagement.

2. Ease back into work

It can feel overwhelming to catch up on emails and conversations that have been piling up since you’ve been away. Don’t dive headfirst into work – try to build in a day of transition and recovery before going into full swing. Start with essential, time-sensitive tasks, and include activities on your calendar that energise you during the day.

3. Reframe and reflect

Even if you’ve not had the best vacation experience, you likely have some positive memories from it that you can hold on to. Take some time to reflect and savour these experiences, and take note of lessons and insights gained along the way. Even negative experiences can give you lessons that will help make your next trip a better one.

4. Set new habits and routines

In psychological terms, the fresh start effect is a phenomenon that sees increased success in behavioural change and is usually associated with new beginnings. For instance, you might set a resolution and stick with it at the start of the New Year, or set up a new routine on a birthday. Think of a return from vacation as a reset point, too. If you spent a lot of time walking in Europe on your vacation, you could consider continuing the practice every evening in your neighbourhood, too. It’s a good time to establish other new practices, like writing in a journal, shutting off notifications when you’re with family, and incorporating more exercise into your daily routine.

How do you get over a bad vacation? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at