Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vacations - Not Great If You Get Them, Not Great If You Don't

Look at this, people who take vacations end up depressed. O wah, wah, wah. Look at this guy. Ask him about HIS vacation. Holy crap.

Labor Day does indeed stir up emotions. But it doesn't have to be Labor Day to feel like shit, so why bother pointing this out? It misses the whole point of how crappy things are EVERY day.

The end of summer brings dread? If you are not in a perpetual state of dread you must be ASLEEP. Come on. Any minute now we're ready to tip over into the apocalypse. I've described this many times. Zombies, talking dogs, China. It's all bad.

You've had a taste of life outside the hamster wheel and now you're caged in your cubicle like a lab rat being force fed some experimental drug that makes you feel like a lab rat, and you're FLIPPING OUT. And the cure? Sitting under a light bulb like a fucking houseplant. That's how far removed we are from where we should be. We need to sit under a light bulb to have some semblance of natural order. Progress.

And this is how it is for people who get to go on vacation. The hedge fund guys.
Labor Day stirs up a unique range of emotions. While some people love the prospect of crisp, cool air, football and fall fashions, others experience a stab of dread this time of year as vacations end, school starts up and pressures mount at the office.

For many people, the end of summer brings dread. Psychologists say several major stressors come together this time of year, including fear of change, waning daylight and mourning for good times past. Melinda Beck explains on Lunch Break. There are few studies or statistics on the end-of-summer malaise, but therapists, career coaches—even marriage counselors—report an increase in people seeking help in early fall. "Change is always hard and this is a time when both nature and our lives are changing," says Betsy Stone, a psychologist in Stamford, Conn.

A big component is what some researchers dub Post Vacation Syndrome (PVS), characterized by a combination of irritability, anxiety, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, and a feeling of emptiness that lasts up to a few weeks after returning to work. Some people get a mild version every Sunday night after getting the weekend off. Surveys suggest that 35% to 75% of workers in Spain, where many businesses close for the month of August, suffer from PVS.

Several studies have found that vacations do lift peoples' spirits, but the effects don't last long. A study of 96 Dutch workers, published in the journal Work and Stress last year, found that health and well-being returned to prevacation levels during the first week back at work.

Some adults who get the summer off face Labor Day blues "because they've had a taste of life outside of the hamster wheel," says Farrah Parker, a corporate trainer in Los Angeles. "They've done things they love and it reminds them of what is truly important in their lives. And when the fall comes, they feel like they are losing a part of themselves. I see it all the time, especially in high-profile industries with demanding schedules."

There is no specific test, but for people who think they are susceptible to such depression, experts suggest sitting near a specialized lamp with a very bright fluorescent (10,000 lux) for about 30 minutes a day for two to four weeks. The sessions should be done in the morning, because light therapy in late afternoon or evening may lead to insomnia. Some studies have also found that getting sufficient vitamin D, B-12 and omega 3 fatty acids may help boost mood, but more research is needed.

Some people find buying something new particularly tempting this time of year. But be wary of overdoing it. "Retail therapy is a slippery slope," says Barbara Neitlich, a Beverly Hills, Calif., psychotherapist.

[Wall St. Journal]

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