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5 Steps to Reduce Post-Vacation Stress: ADHD Edition

Photo of beach with waves and sand and footstep in the sand far away you can see some mountains
Picture Daniella Karidi

My husband and I jetted off to Mexico for a few blissful days at an all-inclusive resort. It was a rare adult-only escape - no kids, no dogs, and no responsibilities. Everything had been arranged in advance, leaving us with the toughest decision of the day: coffee or alcohol? Perhaps even an indulgent cocktail combining the two? The vacation was a dream, filled with breathtaking sunsets, delectable cuisine, and ample relaxation. But...

I understand that it might seem ungrateful to voice any complaints after enjoying such a luxurious getaway to unwind and recharge. However, here's what's currently challenging me: I run my own coaching business and I have ADHD. As wonderful as the vacation was, it threw my routines into disarray, upsetting the delicate balance of my everyday life. Now, I'm faced with an overflowing inbox and a mountain of laundry to tackle.


I recognize that many people experience post-vacation blues or stress when returning to work, but for me, as someone with ADHD, these feelings can be amplified. It's not just about catching up on work-related deadlines and emails; it's also about rebuilding my morning routine and restoring order to my surroundings.


After being away for a few days, it often feels like I have to start from scratch, as if I've forgotten where things belong or the steps needed to kickstart my morning. The automated aspect of my routine feels disrupted, requiring more energy and thought than usual. It's as if things aren't as intuitive, and I have to exert additional effort to regulate my actions.

In the past, I might have been frustrated with myself for feeling like a stranger in my own home, but I've since shifted my perspective.

I've accepted that it will take time to readjust, and I'm embracing that process. Seeing my inbox full of emails no longer overwhelms me; instead, I dedicate time to address them without feeling rushed as I have limited the number of meetings on the day back to work. Before the trip, I made a conscious effort to plan for the post-trip reality, but most importantly, I'm practicing kindness and understanding towards myself.

Photo of straw hat and pink book "Smart ass ADHD women" by Tracy Otsuka will for them are in a white towel
Picture Daniella Karidi

Here are the steps I've taken to reduce post-vacation stress:


1. Plan for the post-vacation: Just as I dedicate time to planning my vacation, I also set aside time to plan for my return. This includes reducing the number of client meetings, scheduling time for email catch-up, addressing urgent matters, and planning out my upcoming days. I make sure to allocate time for tasks like catching up on laundry and unpacking as well.


2. Status post-it: Before I depart, I leave myself a Post-it note with the three most important tasks to tackle upon my return. These brief reminders help guide my focus and prioritize my to-do list as soon as I'm back.


3. Schedule co-working time: I find that I work more effectively with an accountability partner. That's why I make it a point to schedule co-working sessions for the first few days back from vacation. Having someone else to work alongside helps keep me committed and on track.


4. Find motivation: Whether it's inviting friends over for dinner to motivate me to unpack, or scheduling time in my calendar to plan my next vacation as a reward for completing tasks, I find ways to keep myself motivated. Discovering what personally drives me helps maintain my productivity and enthusiasm for getting back into the swing of things.


5. Practice self-compassion: It's important to be kind to myself during this adjustment period. I remind myself that it's okay if things take longer than usual or if they're not as easy as before. Giving myself the grace to readjust to my routine allows me to embrace the fact that the short-term challenges are a small price to pay for the enjoyment of a memorable vacation experience.


By incorporating these strategies, I've found that the transition from vacation mode back to work mode becomes smoother and more manageable.

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