Why your three-day vacation glow fades within days

If you’re pinning all your relaxation goals onto the upcoming Labor Day weekend, recognize that one three-day vacation is not going to cut it. A new survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association, found that for most of us, our vacation high is fleeting and will fade within a few days of returning to our office jobs.

That vacation glow is temporary

Going to the beach and hanging out with our families and friends puts us in a much better mood to handle long days at work. On vacation, participants said they relaxed (80%), slept well (73%), engaged in interesting non-work activities (71%), and avoided thinking about work (65%). Upon return, they said they were in a better mood (68%) and felt more motivated and less stressed (57%). But this high faded after reality set in. For nearly two-thirds of working adults, the wellbeing and job performance boosts they got from time off dissipated within a few days, the survey found.

There are a few remedies to extend your vacation high. You can revisit your vacation memories and remember to bring that relaxed vacation mindset with you into your work day. Or you can buy yourself time to catch up on the work awaiting you, so that you are not bombarded with demands upon your return. But if your stress levels spike upon your return, the problem is not necessarily the vacation you went on, but the work you are doing. Ultimately, vacations cannot rectify stressful work environments, the American Psychological Association suggests.

“Employers shouldn’t rely on the occasional vacation to offset a stressful work environment,” the APA’s David W. Ballard said in a statement. “Unless they address the organizational factors causing stress and promote ongoing stress management efforts, the benefits of time off can be fleeting.”