9 ways to get over the holiday blues

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The holidays have come and gone. Now it’s back to work and back to reality. And then the holiday blues start to set in. It can be tough getting back into the swing of things when just the other day you were lying on a beach in Cape Town, exploring Maputo on foot or indulging in island life in Mauritius.

But don’t let your dead pot plants, that pile of laundry or the thought of traffic get your down. Here are a few simple (and not too expensive) ways to help you get over the holiday blues, now that you’re back at the office.

1. Play tourist in your own city

Now’s the time to explore that new restaurant or bar that opened while you were away on holiday, or that you were meaning to visit for a girls or guys night out, but never got around to because of the end-of-year rush. Check your city’s event listings for new art exhibitions or galleries and go see that new piece of graffiti that recently went up.

Exploring the new and unknown will make you feel like a tourist in your own city. If you’re in Johannesburg like myself, then why not join a local walking tour? There’s the Taste of Yeoville walking tour with Dlala Nje or join an Inner-city shopping tour with Past Experiences. You’ll be surprised by how inexpensive these experiences are and will give you a whole new outlook on your city.

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2. Print photos and put up souvenirs

Put them all over your house and office cubicle, which will help you relive the good times. Otherwise pick a few of your favourite photos as your new laptop and smartphone wall paper and screen saver — it costs nothing and can be a great conversation starter to share your holiday adventures. Create a photo album on Facebook or upload your photos to Instagram. Find a place, either a mantel, shelf or your bedside table, for your new souvenirs. I often buy clothes, shoes or accessories on my travels and love to wear those once I’m back home. This will help keep the holiday blues at bay. I’ve printed and framed this photograph from my trip to France. It hangs above my bed and I feel nostalgic each time I see it.

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3. Organise a holiday potluck to inspire your friends 

Once everyone is back in town, organise a holiday potluck with your friends. Ask each of them to bring their favourite dish or drink from the country or destination they travelled to last. Share your stories and photos over delicious food with great company, and who knows perhaps your friends will inspire your future travels.

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4. Start saving for your next holiday

No holiday, no matter how good, is worth getting into debt for. So start saving, even if it’s just a little each month — some months may be easier than others. But if you forgo a coffee each week, eat out once instead of twice a week, get involved in DIY and upcycling projects instead of buying something new, all those bucks will add up. Also sign up for your bank’s or favoured airline’s rewards programmes. This will allow you to accumulate points and rewards, which you can use to book your next holiday or for awesome travel discounts. The prospect of another trip definitely banishes my holiday blues. Try book your next holiday by getting a great deal on a travel sale, your wallet will be grateful.

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5. Plan your next holiday with a dream board

Start researching where you’d like to go next and get the plans rolling. This will get you excited about the prospect of future travels and won’t let you dwell on the fact that your holiday has just ended. When I get the time, I create a dream board, where I stick pictures of the countries and places I want to travel to next. I did that for Ethiopia and it was such a thrill once I finally got there, knowing that I had visualised it beforehand. You can also create a digital dream board, Pinterest is best for that.

If you’re looking for some destination inspiration, please feel free to follow me Instagram and Pinterest. Thanks! ;)

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6. Take time out

Tackling your inbox, waking up early and getting back into your usual routine can be tough, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Take it easy. Read your favourite book or magazine in your garden or on your balcony during the weekend or after work. Being cooped up inside in a dark space is a huge change from spending lots of time outside and in nature, so get out into the fresh air and sunshine. Also take your lunch break outside rather than in your office at your desk. If you can, try to spend at least 30 minutes in the sun each day, it’ll help keep your mood up.

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7. Organise a picnic in the park

Take a trip to a nearby park or nature reserve. Grab a blanket, picnic basket and your favourite book. Invite your friends. There’s nothing quite like a catch up with friends and sharing your holiday stories. Being close to nature will also remind you of your holiday and give you the chance to unwind. This is me at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, one of my favourite green spaces in Johannesburg.

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8. Give yourself some time to acclimatise

Don’t arrive back from your holiday the day or night before you have to get back to work. That’s a sure way to spur on the holiday blues. Give yourself time to unpack, do the laundry, and do those house chores you didn’t get around to doing before you left. Some down time will also help you get over travel fatigue or jet lag. Ease the transition by giving yourself two or three days. This is much less stressful on the mind and body and will help you return to your regular work schedule and routine. Try return to work on a Tuesday or Wednesday, if you can, this will make your first week back that much shorter and more manageable.

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9. Get on top of things

If you’re the passenger on a road trip or train trip back home, it may be a good idea to check in on your work emails or to run online errands and process payments to kill the time. Not only will this make you feel less anxious about the work load you’ll have to face when you get back, but it will also help you prioritise the most important tasks first.

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Please tell me in the comments below, where did you go these holidays? And do you have any other recommendations on how to beat the holiday blues?

Iga Motylska

Iga Motylska is a Johannesburg-based freelance writer, photojournalist, sub-editor and blogger. She is published in numerous local and international publications, including: Forbes Africa, Forbes Woman Africa, Forbes Life Africa, CNBC Africa, Ventures Africa, Marie Claire, Sawubona, AA Traveller, Fastjet inflight magazine and Seoul Magazine among numerous others. Her editorial interests range from documenting the entrepreneurial spirit to women's and human rights issues, environmental affairs and of course travel writing.

So what do YOU think? ;)