Post-vacation syndrome and how to overcome it 

Reading Time: 2 minutes Have you ever struggled to come back to school after a vacation or break? It turns out that many people feel the same way, and the condition has a name.

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Post-vacation syndrome (PVS) or post-holiday syndrome is an adjustment period that involves feeling negative emotions such as “insomnia, low-energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and anxiousness” following a holiday or extended period of relaxation, explained Libby MacCarthy, a contributor for Psycom

MacCarthy further explained that although not much is known about PVS, “consensus among experts is that the adrenaline comedown is the main culprit.” MacCarthy further reasoned that an additional cause of PVS could be “the contrast effect,” or the brain’s natural tendency to accentuate differences in routines to help us cope with life changes. 

This research could explain why when the festivities wind down, sadness, loneliness, and other negative emotions may creep in. 

Faculty and students of UVU have personally experienced and defined PVS. Kate McPherson, the Honors Program Director at UVU and professor of English, defines PVS as “the fatigue you feel after you come back [to a routine] from having fun and you need a vacation from the vacation.”  

Additionally, UVU student Samuel Whitlock, a computational data science major, stated, “It is hard to come back from vacation and relaxation, but [it] is also kind of nice leaving and returning to study something you are passionate about.”

Although it shares similarities with depression and stress, post-vacation syndrome is not something to be concerned over, as its duration is only short-term, MacCarthy explains. Despite this, however, it is important to be aware of normal symptoms so that if they are abnormally prolonged, a medical professional may diagnose a more serious condition. 

Potential physical symptoms (according to the University of Pais Vasco)

• Weariness 

• Sleepiness 

• Lack of appetite 

• Palpitations 

• Excessive sweating 

• Muscle aches 

Potential psychological symptoms (according to J A. Flórez Lozanoa)

• Mental or emotional tiredness 

• Inhibition 

• Anhedonia (the reduced ability to feel pleasure)

• Sadness 

• Anxiety 

• Social phobia 

Although post-vacation syndrome is estimated to last a week, symptoms dissipate once individuals readapt to their daily routines. To recover quickly from PVS, Alyssa Hui, a contributor for Health, has provided the following recommendations:

• Eat a balanced and nutritious diet

• Avoid alcohol and drugs

• Get in some physical activity

• Connect with friends or family

• Schedule activities in advance

• Try something new

As students move away from the holiday season, it’s important to not forget one’s mental and emotional health. Avoiding activities that help return with energy to school can cause greater complications in your day-to-day activities and may lead to more serious mental illnesses.  

For more information, visit UVU Mental Health Services online or in person.