6 Ways to Get Yourself Out of Vacation Mode (Sorry)

Vacations, honeymoon, longs weekends—they’re all hard to come back from. After all, no one wants to spend 10 days in paradise and then go back to the office (and a full inbox) on Monday. Turning off vacation mode is often tough, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some smart strategies you can employ to make your transition from leisure time a little bit easier.     

Whether you’re a world traveler or a staycationer, these pro tips for snapping out of vacation mode will help you get your head back in the game.  


Sometimes vacation can mean one too many cocktails, rich foods or even lack of sleep if you’re an adventure buff. While fun, these vacation habits can make it hard to feel “normal” once you’re back at work. There are simple and effective ways to rid toxins from your body and feel healthy again after vacation that don’t include depriving yourself.

Water is one of the best tools in your detoxing arsenal. “Focus on increasing your water intake. This will help properly hydrate your body after the one or two cocktails you enjoyed on your vacation,”says nutritionist and trainer Sophie Gray. She also suggests meal planning as a healthy way to get back to reality. “Plan your week out in meals so you have something clearly outlined to fall back into,” she adds. For some great healthy food suggestions post-vacation, celebrity trainer and author David Kirsch recommends greens, eggs, poultry and fish and avoiding processed foods, refined carbs and added sugars.   


Whether your vacation was filled with excess or you behaved yourself and ate healthy, switching up your exercise is a great way to get back into a health-centric mindset. After your trip ends, try hitting up a class before heading straight to the office. Kirsch suggests adding something new to your routine to challenge yourself. Try a cardio-intensive exercise, like boxing, to snap out of vacation mode and get your mind focused on fitness.  


Lynne Goldberg, meditation coach and co-founder of the OMG! I Can Meditate app, recommends meditating to rid your brain of vacation fogginess. “For an easy transition from vacation to work mode, meditate!” she says. “It’s easy to do and has been proven to increase productivity level as well as mental clarity. Even if you only have two minutes to clear your mind, you will still feel the many benefits at work.”

Before a trip, Dr. Edward F. Group creates a to-do list of tasks he wants to complete upon returning from vacation. He appreciates having “detailed instructions to myself so I can hit the ground running without trying to remember what was where. I like to review this the night before returning to work (just to prepare my mind, I don’t work on the tasks) and calmly meditate on it for several minutes. Not only does it help in terms of having an efficient game plan, it really helps refocus my mind from vacation time back to work time.”


The best part about being on vacation is being unplugged, right? You can just turn off your phone, head to the beach and not be bothered with work emails. Unfortunately, you can’t exactly do that while you’re in the office. Taking time for yourself to unplug once you’re back from your trip can be a great stress reliever, whether it’s before or after work or during an early-morning fitness class. Instead of immediately checking emails when you wake up on your first day back to the daily grind, try an early-morning yoga class where you can’t be disturbed by the phone. In fact, you may end up wanting to make “unplugging” a daily exercise because of the peace of mind it will bring.      


Coming back from vacation doesn’t mean you have to forget all the beautiful memories you created while you were away. Lifestyle and career coach Harper Spero recommends using your vacation memories to your advantage when you get back. “When you find yourself dreading your life and getting back into your routine, think strategically about how you can implement some of the aspects of your vacation into your regular life,” she says. “What are you missing the most from vacation? What are you feeling you’re lacking in your life? Was it relaxing, adventurous or did it allow you to spend quality time with the people you love the most? Bring some of those experiences into your everyday life so you don’t feel as though you have to get out of town to enjoy life.”  

Julie Merriman Wray, founder of Olivine Atelier, has a similar strategy. “While I am on vacation, I try to visualize something that I am looking to achieve in my business, like a new class or a brand-new product, so when I return I can hit the ground running, refreshed and energized to move forward creating my vision,” she says. Once she is back from her trip, she will also use a family photo from the trip as wallpaper on her computer desktop as a reminder of the great vacation memories, as well as the goals she is looking to achieve in her business.  


It seems like a simple solution, but not everyone gives themselves adequate time to rest after a vacation. Yes, sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation! Try to get a good night’s sleep before heading back to work.

Wray even hints at not telling people you’re back from vacation for a day, if possible. “I try to come back on a Saturday, so I have the whole day Sunday to check back in to ‘reality’ rather than being thrown into the fire on Monday or mid-week after I return,” she says. “It’s a more friendly and gentle way to ease back into work mode. I will also sometimes tell people I am returning a day after I actually do, in order to get an extra day to catch up on emails or initiatives I may have missed while I was away. If people don’t know I’m back from my awesome vacay yet, then I get the first day back at work all to myself.”  

Dr. Group shares a similar strategy. “I know people, myself included, who will use one of their vacation days to have at home before going back to work,” he says. “Even half of a day can be really helpful to wind down and start to prepare yourself to refocus.”

Callahan is a fitness enthusiast who moonlights on the growth team at ClassPass. She's a certified fitness trainer, with years of fitness experience both inside and outside of the gym. When she's not working you can find her pursuing her passion projects as editor of Trek Montana, contributing writer to the Ultimate Nashville Bach Planning Site and Plan Your Bach.
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