The settling down period after a holiday is always a little difficult, especially for the people who return to work regretfully, depressed at the mere idea of taking up the burden of life once more.
As has been said in these holiday articles more than once, the right sort of holiday should ensure a zest for the renewal of work, keen interest, enthusiasm, new energy. Those who have spent their holiday rightly should have acquired a contented state of mind and a sense of physical and mental well-being; in fact, they should be "feel-ing fit."
Those who have had a good holiday, and are yet dissatisfied with the idea of beginning all over again, can generally put it down to one of two things. Either the holiday has been too exciting, too strenuous, or it has failed to give us the right grip over our mental attitude. After the too-strenuous holiday, the best plan is to take one, or perhaps two, days' real rest and quiet before beginning work at all. Thus one may rectify some of the mistakes made on holiday. Indeed, under any circumstances it is a bad thing to rush straight into work, to arrive home at midnight and be due in the office at nine next morning. It spoils the best holiday in the world to get up after a brief night's rest, and have to begin work in a rush. The best plan is to get home at least twenty-four hours before one really must, especially if one has had a holiday of two or three weeks. This provides a reasonable time for disposing of accumulated letters, for unpacking and placing one's belongings in their proper places. It prevents hurry and fuss and the sense of rush, and gives one a far better chance of taking up work with pleasure.
Many people complain that, in spite of avoiding confusion during the settling down period, they invariably go through intense physical and mental reaction at such a time. " I have nothing to look forward to," said one woman, who had had a three weeks' perfect holiday, and returned to work, grumbling all the time. "The same old drudgery for six months, at least," says the girl who has not got a grip of herself, and who has allowed her holiday to unfit her for work because she does not look at things from the right point of view. Most people are healthier physically after a holiday, and so there is less excuse for them if they adopt a mental attitude of grumbling discontent, or dissatisfaction with the daily routine of life.
It is natural enough to regret that the holiday rest and pleasure are over for the time, and it is sometimes difficult to take up work that means many months' application before the next holiday can be anticipated. But, after all, life means work, application, perseverance for most of us, and the wise thing is to do our work to the best of our ability. It is after the holidays that we can make better plans, that we can regulate our work, and put method and interest into it, when our minds are clear and we are physically more fit than at the beginning of the summer.
The first thing everyone of us ought to determine upon at this season is to live as much as possible, hygienically speaking, as we have been doing on holiday. It is so easy to get rushed, to let work get out of hand, to be neglectful of fresh air and exercise, to forget all the good resolutions we have formed on holiday. The woman who found that the exercise she took then made her far more fit and happy may say, "I shall keep this up all the winter," but she forgets all about the need of regular exercise once she is in harness again. The man who has lived the outdoor life for a month vows that he will never again sleep with shut windows, and poison himself with bad air. Alas, for good resolutions ! In six weeks, ten chances to one, we have all got into the old routine once more. How many people ride on a 'bus when it would be far more profitable to walk ! How many workers spoil their brains with late hours and insufficient sleep !
A few simple rules carefully followed would go far to preserve health well on into the winter. It means only a little method. A store of energy, of mental and physical health, has accumulated. You can make a fresh start, and can preserve your vitality so that you can keep the healthy vigour you have acquired right through the winter.
Go to bed at 10.30 every night, and resist all temptations to sit up past midnight. It is impossible for the woman who has to work hard to keep well if she makes a habit of late hours at night. All the benefit of a holiday will be lost by a failure to recognise this fact.
Keep up the exercise habit you have probably acquired on holiday. Walk two or three miles every day, and you will save money, and get the exercise you need at the same time. It probably means rising earlier in the morning, but it is essential if we are to keep our holiday health more than a week or two.
Break once and for all the habit of eating at irregular times. Take meals regularly, and eat slowly, and try, as far as possible, to adhere to the good habits with regard to diet that you have found answer so well while away.
Keep up the fresh-air cult which has done so much to renew your youth and vitality. Very few people realise,- in spite of all that has been said about fresh air, that we could double our energy and cure a very large number of the commonest ailments by living the open-air life all the year round.
Hold fast to the holiday spirit, to the sense of enjoyment which has come to you, and which you so readily lose after getting back to work. We are all apt to take our responsibility too seriously, and to forget that a little enjoyment, a little pleasure and recreation, will make us healthier and better workers.
The last two rules have a very close relationship, as they act and react upon each other. Depression of spirits is very often due to living constantly in poisoned air So many people lose the "holiday spirit," the sense of joy in life after three weeks in " the old trail," simply because they pass from the fresh-air life to an indoor existence day and night. The breathing of impure air has a marked effect after a couple of weeks.
Why have you lost that sense of anticipation and interest on first awakening which was one of the greatest pleasures on holiday ? It is not because the day in front of you holds work rather than amusement. The fact is that you have slept all night in a room which, after the first hour, held an excess of carbonic acid, the poisonous product of respiration. This you breathe into your lungs, absorb into your blood, with the result that the poisons directly affect your nerve centres, or, in simple language, give you "the hump."
Depression of spirits is simply a matter of poisoned blood in 90 per cent. of cases. The blood may be poisoned because your digestion and your liver are out of order, or it may be poisoned because you are breathing impure air day and night. The fact that you work at a sedentary occupation in a city is no excuse for neglecting the open-air cure. The man or woman who has to work in an underground passage by day can at least sleep in the open air all night. This may be achieved by the open-air bedroom, the arrangement of which is described in Every Woman's Encyclopaedia (page 15, Vol. 1). But the open-air bedroom is out of the reach of a great many of us, who can still live the open-air life if we like. Many medical men who have studied the prevention of consumption make their patients draw the head of their bed up to the window, arrange a sort of screen with a sheet, so that the person's head is actually in the open air, whilst the body is well covered up with blankets.
In most cases, however, it will be sufficient to leave the window or windows wide open, and arrange a screen at the head of the bed so as to ward off draught if you have any fear of its effects. In an ideally hygienic community we would build the bedrooms without window-panes at all. Windows would exist simply for ventilation purposes, and we should very soon become accustomed to the winds and weather, and never notice the existence of a draught at all. The average person is not educated up to the knowledge that we do not catch colds by draught, but by infection. An open-air bedroom is one of the best preventives of cold we have, because it ensures a liberal supply of oxygen all the time we are asleep, and makes us resistant to changes of temperature if we can keep up the custom all the year round. In
September we should make up our minds to get fresh air all the winter. It simply means never beginning to shut the windows at all. The most unhygienic of us sleep with open windows during the holiday season, but the first breath of English cold weather sends the windows up again, with the risk that we keep them closed until the spring comes round. We suggest to ourselves that we shall catch cold if we sleep with open windows when there is snow on the ground. And the very opposite is the case.
This fresh-air cult has a very important bearing upon consumption, so that we shall deal with it in greater detail in a subsequent series of articles on the prevention of consumption. Meantime, let every reader determine to sleep with open windows, to sit with open windows, and to eat with open windows, and by so doing take the very best measure to preserve the holiday spirit, to keep fit and well and cheerful all through their winter's work.
Put the most cheerful person into a room with closed doors and window, and make her breathe the same atmosphere over and over again for an hour or two, and you will almost certainly ensure a melancholic outlook upon life. Compel the pessimist to live the open-air life for a week or two, and he will acquire an almost child-like faith in his fellow-creatures, and a delightful appreciation of the good and beautiful. It is all a matter of fresh air, pure blood, properly nourished nerve centres.
The holiday spirit was largely the result of living in pure air, and you can preserve it by following the rules tabulated above, and make up your mind that by proper method and regulation you will keep the beautiful holiday mood until your next holiday is due.