Last time we revealed that Post Greece Blues is a real thing! Today, learn more about why Greece is good for you, why you feel “off” upon return, & what you can do.
Got the Post Greece Blues?
Are you suffering from the Post Greece Blues? Know why? It’s because Greece is not only fun, but it’s good for you on so many levels. Last time, we talked about the role the sun has on influencing our overall health and how, when we return from Greece, the lack of sun contributes to Post Greece Blues (PGB). Keep reading to learn about additional benefits we experience while vacationing in Greece, and what we can do to keep it going. This will all help to alleviate the dreaded Post Greece Blues.
Mediterranean diet and micronutrients
We all know about the Mediterranean diet, and its many benefits. While some people gain weight while vacationing in Greece, the micronutrients derived from the abundant intake of vegetables and fruits, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and high-quality protein, may outweigh this negative. B group vitamin deficiencies (B1, B2, niacin, B6, folates, or B12) are rare in the Mediterranean basin, and intakes of antioxidant vitamins (vitamins E and C) and carotenes are high. These are key micronutrients, needed not only for optimal health, but also for feeling good.
Additionally, micronutrients along with vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc play significant roles in maintaining immune function and hormonal balance. They’re much needed co-factors in the building blocks for our adrenal glands. Many of these micronutrients not only become depleted in our bodies as we’re stressed (thanks to our modern-day lifestyle) but also lacking in our food system.
Our soil is the problem. Zinc, for example, (needed for cell growth, wound healing, and breakdown of carbs) is a valuable micronutrient. For vegetables to have zinc, the soil must contain it as well. This applies to other important micronutrients as well. While recent research has indicated that zinc levels in Greece’s soil are decreasing to due pollution and run/off, the amount of zinc found is still MORE that what is found in America’s soil.
Think about how good you feel when you’re on the beach. It’s believed that lack of certain physiological stressors that have been experienced by people through many years of evolution, such as brief changes in body temperature (e.g. think about when you first dip your toe in the water and it feels a little cold), may cause inadequate functioning of the brain due to lack of thermal exercising.
This is akin to the great feeling you get after a fantastic cardio workout. It’s another reason why we may feel “off” on return from Greece.
Workplace blues and adrenals
No conversation about Post Greece Blues would be complete without discussing the return to work. Could your PGB be triggered by thoughts of returning to work? Many people feel this way — and this is likely true.
It seems that as much as 75-80% of our stress may be work-related. Aside from possibly not wanting to be there, typical work-related behaviors stress our adrenals and can lead to health problems that will eventually not only interfere with our ability to work but also our ability to handle everything non-work related. You know you’ve done it – miss meals, work through lunch and past normal work hours, and go to work sick. Doing this long-term can cause issues.
In addition, there are many common workplace situations that increase stress, like the physical environment (poor lighting, air quality, noise) and the culture (lack of training, office conflicts, low compensation). Combine these factors with not really liking your job and you’ve inadvertently set yourself up for possible HPA axis dysfunction AND Post Greece Blues.
So what do you do?
Shift your mindset
Finally, there’s something to be said about sitting on a beautiful beach 5000 miles away, with a freddo cappuccino in your hand, watching your children playing happily in the sand while the lounging in the sun, thinking about your “problems.” Compare that to thinking about them back at home when you’re in the car, commuting to work, battling screaming kids, and stuck in traffic. You’re viewing your problems from a whole different perspective. While the “problems” themselves don’t change, the context you view them in does. They almost don’t feel like “problems”, essentially, they feel like challenges that can eventually be conquered.
This vacation effect (improved external stress response) is an example of a mind shift change. While all the physiological benefits of vacationing in Greece can help you reach this point of change, ultimately, it’s your “choice” to view your problems in the context of challenges to overcome rather than hindering problems. That will allow this shift to happen.
Keep the good feelings going
There are daily habits that you can initiate today that can help you achieve the same benefits. Here are some tips.
Daily meditation can provide the same benefits associated with vacationing AND the benefits last much longer. Not only does regular meditation induce a better stress response, strengthen our immune system, and provide an overall sense of well-being (the vacation effect) but it’s also been found to lengthen our telomeres — DNA located in our bodies that has been associated with longevity and health. This is a hallmark characteristic found in individuals who practice the Mediterranean lifestyle.
Eat the Greek way
Following a Mediterranean diet, with high-quality, organic local plants and protein can also help sustain the dietary benefits associated with vacationing in Greece. Adding in high-quality, easy to absorb mineral supplements can aid in assimilating those much-needed micronutrients if comparable food is hard to find.
Feel the water
In my opinion, there’s no replacement for ‘vitamin sea’ — this “nutrient” derived only from Greece’s waters — running cold water on the back of our necks for just a few minutes may be our best replacement when back home. Even just a few seconds (if you can’t tolerate a few minutes), can also stimulate your HPA axis to maintain and initiate those same feel good chemicals released while jumping in the sea.
Make some changes at work
Re-evaluate your workplace situation. Manage the stressors that you CAN control rather than stressing out on the ones that you CAN’T. It’s key to not only avoiding Post Greece Blues, but also to maintain the health of your adrenals.
Feel good at home
While post-vacation effects can last up to 45 days, for many, it can feel like much less. Implementing these techniques along with acquiring additional support, if needed, can help you not only extend those positive vacation feelings but even experience them during the winter months. In the meantime, start planning your trip to Greece next summer.
Questions about this article? Contact Roula.
Sources and Inspiration:
- The Adrenal Reset Diet. Alan Christianson, NMD
- Adapted Cold Shower as a Potential Treatment for Depression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17993252
Read more from Roula Marinos Papamihail, MA, CHHC, FDN-P:
She trained at Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. and holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Indianapolis. She’s also the proud mom of 4 little boys. Roula is currently accepting new clients in her office, at home, over the phone, or via Skype. Visit her website at www.myhealthysoma.com.