One minute I was in Virginia, enjoying the breathtakingly beautiful skies, the refreshing lush greenery, walking down the aisles of Target with a macchiato in hand and the next, I had returned to the Doha sandpit where temperatures were a miserable 110F with dust, massive construction zones and the never-ending quest to find good tasting fresh milk.
What later followed were many days of low spirits and general gloominess. I struggled with my blog posts, my mind was in a million places, and everything seemed dismal and bleak.
Diagnosis: Post vacation hangover.
It’s not something new. It happens every single time I return. However, add the expat equation into the mix, and it poses a myriad of questions to my already existing dismal thoughts!
Was moving here the right decision in the first place? Am I truly happy here? Are kids happy here? Will they adjust if we ever move back? Why am I using the word ‘ever’? I mean, we will – right? Do my kids have access to opportunities here and if not, does the experience of a culturally diverse environment outweigh the lack of them.
Needless to say, I had to pull myself out of this! Here are five things that have helped me re-acclimatize to everyday life, that may help you too, if you are suffering from a post vacation hangover, the expat version.
- Reconnect with friends
I probably avoid this the most after I get back. I always need my space, (blame it on my introversion), but one of the things that makes Doha home, is the friendships I have cultivated here. Friends are amazing everywhere, whether it is back home, or in your expat ‘home’. Call them up! Or in my case, just whatsapp!
These friends are the ones, who can get you out of your post vacation blues. They message you at 7am, to make sure you get yourself to the gym that day. They are the ones, that come pick you up and take you out for dessert, because they know you are sitting home in PJ’s sulking. They are the ones who will tirelessly go through the pros and cons list of living here ‘vs’ there with you, till 2am, because let’s face it. They are jet lagged too.
- Home Projects
Since this is home for now, might as well make it feel like one. Even though, we have been in this house for a good six years now, it could always use a new coat of paint, some fresh ideas and a bit of refurnishing to spruce it back to life.
My son took to re-doing his room, which meant several trips to IKEA, buying paint colors, and me being part-mom part-handyman for a while.
I myself tackled a ‘under the stairs project’ that I had wanted to do for a very long time. It was a small space that lacked character, but was visually important in the house. Jumping into home projects like these, unleashes your creativity, makes a house a ‘home’ and the end results are often very gratifying!
- Prepare a special meal
I always feel like taking the time out to prepare a special meal works wonders for my soul. Sometimes it is making a steak dinner, or baking some chocolate chip cookies. Of course, if cooking stresses you out, then this might not be for you. But I feel sharing meals creates all kinds of crazy happiness! I make some good old-fashioned comfort food (like mom would make), or meals that my family loves! Also, as a side note, maybe go easy on the carbs, because we all know how the vacation food went down!!
- Return to a familiar place
Return to a local restaurant, park or street vendor. Your happy place. For me, it is a cafe right by my children’s school, that I frequent. I went there last week, and the barista remembered my order. That familiarity of him saying, will you have your usual and adding the extra chocolate covered mocha beans on the side just like I want. Perfection. On the other hand, returning to just your local grocery store may have similar feelings. I went back to stock up on groceries, after my summer holidays. As I made my way to the cashier, the bagging guy, asks, ‘I haven’t seen you in a long time. Were you away for summer?’
- Shifting Perspective
Probably the most important in this list and arguably the hardest, is shifting your perspective. Training your mind to make the most of the country you and are in, and not what you have left behind. I have not in way achieved this yet, but it is definitely a work in progress. Happiness is a state of mind. It is not a place, or city or country. You can choose to be happy anywhere. Count your blessings!
If you have tackled the post vacation hangover, or if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear from you!