Heading home after an extended period away is no easy feat. I learned this back in 2011, when I returned home from my first backpacking experience in Europe.
Was I excited to get back? Of course. I was looking forward to plunking my backpack down and never picking it up again… expect to maybe burn it. Beyond that, I was excited to see my family and friends, sleep in a room solo, and take as much time in the bathroom as I desired. But my excitement was lessened by the thoughts of post-trip depression that sometimes crept into my mind.
Often referred to as the Coming Home Blues, post-trip depression is a real thing and I was terrified I would fall into it.
Before I left I had moved out of the place I shared with my friend and quit my job, I decided that after returning I would just “figure it out”. Well, “figuring it out” becomes mildly depressing when you return and you’re twenty-five, jobless, broke, and living with your parents in a small town. After a week of living in my childhood home, I called my friend and said, “Can I please come back?!” Luckily, she said yes – and within a few weeks I was no longer feeling the Coming Home Blues.
Returning from this adventure, I honestly didn’t fear post-trip depression. I was, and am, feeling the best I have ever felt. I returned to the beautiful city of Vancouver with my handsome fiancé, and have had copious activities planned with loved ones to keep me busy. But I knew I was naive to think that post-trip depression couldn’t sneak up on me… so I decided to make a list.
I call it my Happiness List, inspired by the first book I chose to read when I returned home: “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.
My Happiness List contains habits I would like to form, and the small things that make me happy. It’s a reminder that there are many little things I can do post-trip to remain inspired, creative, healthy and… keep a smile on my face.
For example, here are a few items from my Happiness List:
- No phone or internet for the first hour when I wake up. Why? Because I want to wake up and have my first thought be about MY day, not on what occurred the night before or what other people are doing before I’m even out of bed.
- Have a bath once a week. Why? Because in the bath I am completely and utterly relaxed. They also can benefit your body and mind. In a world of constant distractions, it’s a place where I can really relax.
- Read every day (Preferably a book, but a classy magazine will also do). Why? Because I, like many, spend far too much time in front of a screen – I miss picking up a book and reading. Plus, reading a real book also increases your intelligence.
- Eat healthier and drinking less. Why? Because I treated my body like a revolving door for a portion of my trip (worth every bite), and I am craving some body balance.
- Blog more. Why? Because I missed it. It has been a great creative outlet for me and I want to continue to see it grow and evolve. Your feedback has been positively inspiring and I love connecting with you through this platform.
A Happiness List is truly for everyone, not just those returning from long-term travel. However, I would suggest if you are returning from an extended time away, a Happiness List will help you re-connect with home and focus your energy on the present and future, rather than the past that you may be missing.
It’s a small reminder that sometimes the little things can have a big impact!
For more suggestions on how to thrive at home after long-term travel check out Brooke’s list from World of Wanderlust here.
What tips do you have for battling the Coming Home Blues after long-term travel?