Don't let the end of summer get you down - follow our tips to get you back in peak physical and mental health for autumn.
Touching down on the tarmac after your summer holiday can be a horrible moment. With your tan already fading and a growing awareness that your trousers feel a bit tight, it can feel like the end of the world. But is there a way to avoid that post-holiday sinking feeling?
According to Dr Wendy Denning, maintaining your summer glow is about more than using fake tan.
"Once your holiday is over, people have not only to deal with the end of the event, but also the end of all their dreaming," she says.
"Expectation is part of a holiday. So I tell patients who feel down at this time of year to start thinking about their next holiday because you get as much out of the fantasy of what your holiday is going to be like, as you do from the reality."
Karen Salmansohn, author of The Bounce Back Book, agrees that holidays can be an intense emotional experience.
"When you you come home from vacation you often become especially aware of that 'gap' between what you now have and what you now want. Holidays
give you time to reflect and this can make coming home hard. You're confronted by making those self-promised changes."
But Salmansohn adds that doesn't mean we should treat holidays as anything less than life-enhancing treats.
"Post-vacation is the perfect time to channel all that restorative vacation energy into new habits which bring you the life you truly desire and deserve."
Of course that's easier said than done.
Denning says that it's far easier to enjoy the mental benefits of your holiday if you've given yourself an easy physical ride while away.
"Holidays are often accompanied by extreme behaviour. People go on crash diets beforehand or work incredibly hard up until the last minute. Then they get there and binge on food and alcohol. All this can put incredible stress on a person's system at a time when they're trying to unwind and relax."
Denning says that as a result, post-vacation blues are very common.
"I see a surge in patients suffering symptoms such as tiredness, irritability, lack of concentration, nostalgia and loss of appetite and many wonder whether it was worth having a holiday at all. But if they make sure they keep an eye on their diet and exercise levels while they're away, they'll find their mood is better and it easier to readjust into everyday life."
Salmansohn agrees that, while it can seem hard to shift those post-holiday blues, there are lots of wonderful reasons to come home.
"I went through a bad time a few years ago and found my first instinct was to stay home and eat lots of chocolate. But in fact, research has shown people who successfully bounce back from hard times seek out their real friends and stay in touch. So, if you're going through a challenge, make a list of 10 people you consider friends and make sure you spend a few hours a week with them. You don't have to go away to find out what you love about life."
DR DENNING'S POST-VACATION BLUES PRESCRIPTION
:: See your GP before you go away and get advice on staying well while on holiday.
:: Get your washing and ironing done before you go on holiday so you can easily put your hands on something gorgeous to wear to work so that you can enjoy your post-holiday glow.
:: Eat some turkey, chicken or whole grains in the first few days so you boost your serotonin levels.
:: Have a quiet day on the last day of the holiday and try to get enough sleep so you don't come back exhausted.
:: Try to avoid drinking a lot or eating a very heavy meal on the last night as both will make you feel sluggish the next day.
:: Only drink water on the flight home - avoid the alcohol, tea and coffee, all of which will dehydrate you and therefore tire you.
:: Create some time before you return to work by coming home 24 hours before you are due back at work.
:: On the way home try to remember all the fun times you had on the holiday and try not to dwell on the things that did not work well.
:: Consider a boost to your energy levels - a Myers IV cocktail packed with B Vits, magnesium and Vit C is fantastic for jet lag, hangovers, and gruelling journeys home.
:: Book a massage or a session of yoga with massage on your return to keep your mind and muscles relaxed.
:: Look at your diet - think about a detox to make you feel refreshed and more energetic.
:: Plan something fun for the week after you return so you have something to look forward to, but not on the first night back.
:: Start planning your next vacation right away. Often the planning is almost as much fun as the vacation itself.
If all of this fails and you are still feeling blue a couple of weeks after you get back, it may be that you are due for a change - book an appointment with your GP and see if they can refer to someone who can help you look at your own self defeating patterns and plan a future that makes more of the worthwhile things in your life.
KAREN'S BOUNCE BACK ASSIGNMENTS
:: Block out 30 minutes to go through your wardrobe and remove old clothes that you no longer wear. As you toss out your dud clothes, know that you are preparing to put aside old thoughts and beliefs that no longer fit with who you are.
:: Make a list of five happy moments and five future goals you feel excited about. Then when you feel all is lost, take yourself to one of these points, and imagine exactly how it will feel. Envision everything from what you're wearing to the scent in the air. The more sensual the details, the stronger the neural connection and the more intensely you'll feel good about yourself.
:: The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmansohn is published in paperback by Workman Publishing, priced from $22.95.