What healthy habits should be resumed after returning from vacation to improve physical and mental health? The Quirónsalud health group, through its risk prevention company Quirónprevention, gives us the best advice.
Insomnia? Lack of appetite? Fatigue? Mood swings and feelings of apathy, sadness, or irritability? If they sound familiar to you, if you feel them, perhaps you are being a victim of post-vacation syndrome, the manifestation (not depression, let’s not exaggerate) of a set of symptoms that surprise when returning to the usual routine after a long rest period. Because it is hard to leave the beach bar in pursuit of the burning asphalt in less than the time it takes to open the “bomb” emails that await us in the inbox.
But don’t worry, it’s about a perfectly normal, transient and temporary stress process, which can last two or three days or even a couple of weeks. “Returning from vacation is not usually easy at any age, although the levels of responsibility to which we return are very different depending on the vital moment in which we find ourselves, and that will also play a role in the feelings of stress that we may experience. ”, points out María Victoria Fernández Petrini, a psychologist at Quirónprevention, the risk prevention company of Quirónsalud.
According to this expert, the ease of adaptation has to do with how radical the changes have been in the routines during the break. If the break has been total, it could generate even more stress than usual. In addition, the hardness of returning to work is also related to the regulation time available before returning to full duties. Thus, returning on Sunday and starting work on Monday will not be the same as returning a few days earlier to give yourself time to adjust without overloading. “For example, if in the leisure period we have been going to bed at 12 at night and from one day to the next we want to start doing it at 10, it is most likely that the first few days we will not be able to achieve it, so that it would be more interesting to advance the time little by little (in two or three days) so as not to suffer frustration”.
How to face the return to reality
The symptomatology associated with the post-holiday syndrome does not require a specific treatment, although it is advisable to return to a series of customs to make the transition process more bearable. Resuming day-to-day routines is the beginning of recovery, taking into account food, breaks and exercise. “It is a period in which it will be very important to pay attention to yourself and be careful with overload and self-demand, since this will only increase feelings of discomfort”, comments Fernández Petrini.
To quickly digest the post-holiday syndrome, the health professionals at Quirónprevention recommend the following:
- Reset sleep patterns that we maintain throughout the year, not only in terms of schedules, but also in reference to the practices that we usually carry out at the end of each day.
- It must be remembered that the end of the vacation does not have to be associated with the loss of fun and pleasant and pleasant activities. It is good to set aside a moment every day of the year for relaxation and for those activities that we like and that make us feel good. “This may seem complex due to the responsibilities and schedules we carry, but they do not necessarily have to be grand gestures. We can take advantage of other activities that we already do to unite these sensations. For example, if we practice sports with friends from time to time, we obtain the positive contribution that sharing exercise with people who are relevant to us gives us”, points out María Fernández Petrini.
- From the psychological point of view, physical activity should be daily, of at least 30 minutes, and that is pleasant, to obtain the benefit of the activity itself and the positive sensations it generates. This way it will be easier to maintain the habit.
- In terms of food, it is also desirable return to healthy habits and balanced food if during the holidays it has not been very present. Good food provides energy and contributes to the proper functioning of the person, both physically and psychologically. It is not that there are specific ingredients to combat post-vacation syndrome, but there are some such as almonds, chickpeas, chicken, milk and dairy products that, because they are rich in tryptophan (an essential amino acid precursor of serotonin), help regulate the levels of serotonin (involved in emotional regulation) and melatonin (the hormone involved in sleep regulation). It is advisable to consume them regularly to take advantage of all their benefits.
- Also, you have to pay special attention to the immune system. Summer sun exposure causes an increase in the amount of vitamin D in the body, which is essential in regulating this system. However, with the temperature changes typical of this time, it is inevitable to face the occasional cold. To protect yourself, you need to increase your intake of foods rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, peppers, kiwi, pomegranate, papaya and raspberries. Or eat others with abundant B vitamins, mainly B6, such as sunflower seeds, whole grains such as wheat, mushrooms and poultry. Finally, it would be interesting to include foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as oily fish or avocado, as they provide anti-inflammatory properties and help improve the functioning of the immune system.
For that, among other things, there is Quirónprevention, which has recently launched a preventive medicine and healthcare provision to individuals, whereby its centers become part of the Quirónsalud network of hospitals and health centers, offering consultations in different specialties. The project has started in Madrid, La Coruña, Vigo and Malaga, with the aim of progressively extending to the rest of the company’s centers throughout the Spanish geography.
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