You planned your adventure down to the last Snickers bar or night’s lodging. You dreamed of this adventure for years, planning and saving for months before heading out to fulfill your dream vacation. Now you’re finding that returning to the mountainous “to do” bin at work is difficult. You may feel detached, out of place, even mildly depressed. You are not alone, and this experience is not unique.
This feeling is common among mountain climbers after the summit, marathon runners after the race, and scores of others who have gone after their dreams and accomplished their goals. Jeff Alt, author of the award-winning A Walk for Sunshine and A Hike for Mike, experienced some difficulties readjusting upon returning from his expeditions; most recently a trek across Ireland carrying his child on his back.
Beth, Jeff and Madison Alt
Whether your vacation was at an all inclusive resort, on a cruise in the Caribbean, or a death defying trip up Everest, you may experience difficulty after your vacation. Jeff has assembled a list of tips to help you adjust back to the real world after your grand adventure.
1.) Return to your daily routine slowly
Jumping right back into the fast-paced hubbub of society may be too much to handle at first. Pad in a few extra days off work upon returning to allow a gradual return to your routine.
2.) Share your adventure
You may be bursting with stories from your journey, or you may have flashes of brilliant thoughts from your adventure. Keeping these to yourself may cause frustration and feelings that no one understands what you’ve just experienced. Share your adventure. Invite your family and friends over for a slide show, contact your local newspaper, and give talks to schools and civic groups. Many folks would love to hear of your adventure and sharing it allows you to relive the experience.
3.) Take care of your body medically
After weeks or months of travel you may have acquired Giardiasis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Poison Oak or some other ailment. See your doctor for a full head-to-toe examination. Let the doctor know if you’re feeling depressed.
4.) Eat sensibly
If your adventure involved rigorous exercise, you are no longer burning 5,000 calories a day, taking daily jogs along the beach, or ascending mountain summits. Model your food portions after your civilized "real world" peers.
5.) Stay in shape
Perhaps you trained for a hike along the Appalachian Trail or you started a walking routine while on vacation. Chances are you are in the best shape of your life. Keep that excellent physique you earned from rigorous exercise. Establish a time each day to walk. Join the gym and convert your energy to weights, spinning, the inclined treadmill, etc. If you live near a park or the mountains, by all means keep hiking even if it’s only an hour a day.
6.) Turn your vacation thoughts into action
All that thinking time may have allowed you to solve some of your personal dilemmas, or perhaps you thought of a new business idea, or a new path you’d like your life to take. It may feel defeating to let those thoughts drift away. Make a list of all the profound thoughts and ideas you had on vacation and select the ones you can implement.
7.) Have a vacation escape
When the hustle and bustle become overwhelming, slip in that nature CD, post a picture from your trip as a screen saver; take a brief stroll in the nearby park. Let your mind drift off to that peaceful place on the trail, beach, or mountain vista.
8.) Plan your next adventure
Dwelling on the great adventure having ended can bring you down. Focus on your next great adventure. Give yourself something to look forward to!
Jeff Alt, award-winning author of A Walk for Sunshine and A Hike for Mike, has been an expert guest on ESPN’s Inside America’s National Parks. Jeff’s adventures have been widely publicized around the globe in numerous magazines, newspaper articles and radio programs including CNN-Radio, The Chicago Tribune, The Good Life Show, and many more. Jeff was recently broadcast worldwide on New Dimensions Media and in the US on 400 NPR stations. For more information see http://jeffalt.com
This article was reviewed by Jack J. Lesyk, Ph.D., a Clinical and Sports Psychologist, who has published articles on post-event blues.