Busting Post-Vacation Depression With Gratitude

by Rebecca A. Watson on January 9, 2014

in California, friends, gratitude, holidays, travel

On what is considered by researchers to be the most depressing day of the year, I woke up with anger and hyper critical thoughts. I was jet lagged. It was 5 a.m. — might as well wake up.

Ever since our trip to the desert a few years back, I’ve become increasingly aware of my pension toward the post-vacation blues. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend away or a two week excursion, I get bummed out when I get home.

Well this time I decided to do a little research and figure out some ways to get over this funk in a more timely fashion. It’s the new year folks! I don’t wanna be all weighed down at the start. I live for new beginnings. Plus we’re going to the Canary Islands at the end of the month so I don’t want it to bleed into my next trip.

One of the suggestions was to find some things to be thankful for about the vacation we just took. Well, that’s one of my favorite activities, and even with the sourest mood, I was able to coax myself into listing three. Which turned into four. And so on.

I thought I’d include you in my list just for kicks and also to show you what I did while I was back in sunny California.

1. The Loot. Oh man, did we bring home some sweet stuff. I scoured the Mexican grocery stores and returned with a tortilla press. No more Old El Paso hard shell tacos for this girl! And I got loads of yarn. Yarn for blankets, yarn for sweaters, yarn that looks like fur. Yes, I may have gone overboard, but it’s hard to get yarn that’s decent and cheap in Germany.

yarn goodness

Some of my treasure.

Other things we brought back: Tapatillo, green scrubbie things (I can’t find anything to really clean stuff in Germany, yet everything I see is so clean. Another German paradox.), Dr. Bronners Soap, Act Restoring Mouthwash, gluten and dairy pills, Aleve. It was so much fun to pull all these things with English written all over them.


Tapatillo: I’m sure the gods put this stuff on their eggs too.

2.  The Pacific Ocean. Oh heavens, it was fantastic to stand on the shore watching the seals stick their fins out of the water for hours. Yes, hours. (What were they doing? Having a meeting or something?) Running with the ocean at my side drained me of anxiety and filled me with sunshine.

And swimming in it? Well that was a whole new ballgame. In the four years I lived there, I went in the ocean once. It was just so cold! After five months in Germany, I took one look at those waves after a run and thought, “Yeah, I should probably go in.” One word: Bliss.

pacific ocean and me

Me, post-run, pre-swim.

3. The sunshine. Every morning we woke up to the sun streaming in our window by 8 a.m. Contrast that with Freiburg, where the streelights are still on. I watched several sunsets. Man, having the ocean on the left side of you when the sun goes down is something magical. Of course, I know the state could use some rain, so I’m sending watery vibes from our city here, which is on-par with Seattle. But I do want to thank the Universe for those two weeks. Mmmm … vitamin D.

sante pacific ocean sunset

My hubby watching the sunset our first day back.

4. Family. Like I said before, coming back to California felt like coming home to my family. I just felt so comfortable, and my heart keeps swelling with love for them. Crazy dogs (and other animals), the brothers I never had, stories about grandfathers in the Civil War (with pictures!), sushi and movies, shopping at Costco and drinking coffee at the dogpark. Oh, and of course Christmas dinners.

5. Friends. We drove through the light show in Los Gatos. We made tamales while the guys played video games. We shopped and stopped at the beach. We dined. We BBQed. We celebrated. We talked on the phone. We shared secrets. We comforted. We encouraged. Damn, I’ve been blessed with a good tribe.

peace on earth

Thanks for taking the photo, Gladys!

6. Sauna at the hotel. Growing up I’d sauna with friends and jump into the snow. It wasn’t quite so intense in Santa Cruz, but I was able to dive into a pool outside. Rejuvination? Yessssssss.

7. Flip flops. More than one of my friends commented on my shoe choice, but seriously, my feet were so happy in the sun! It makes me wish my hubby’s coworker would come up with that design for heated flip flops he keeps talking about. Free toes are happy toes.

8. Hoodies. I love the ever-present fashion in Germany and in Europe in general. It feels good to be surrounded by folks who care about their personal statement to the world every time they walk out the door. But I still love yoga pants. And hoodies. Or as I now call them, house coats.

But while I was in Santa Cruz, they staged a jail break. I think I wore one outside every day, because, y’know, land of the hoodies.

sunset beach watsonville

Sunset Beach, in my old hood, Watsonville. And me in a hoodie.

After writing the list, I decided that I was still crabby and depressed, but I felt the sun start to pierce through the clouds around my heart. It definitely worked! Since then, I’ve slowly started working out more, adding more to my gratitude list and going out in my new city, which I think did wonders.

I really was craving that bratwurst plate with extra pommes. Oh lord help me, I’ve definitely taken to some of this German way of life. By today, I’m starting to feel like my old self, which is good considering I like traveling.

On another note, my blog will be undergoing some design changes in the next few weeks. Don’t be alarmed. It’s all planned, even the mistakes 🙂 I figured I updated the look when I moved to California, which was about 4.5 years ago(!), so it’s probably due for a remodel. I’m looking forward to the change and I welcome people’s feedback.

What about you? Do you feel bummed after a trip? How do you deal with it?

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