Just got back from your summer hols? Feeling a bit, well, unimpressed with life? Spare a thought for the Parisians who are all heading back to work, school and college after a month long break.
They even have a special word for their post-holiday depression, la rentrée.
And boy do they feel unhappy about life. According to their TV news, demand for therapists peaks in late August, while magazines publish long articles on les blues d’apres-vacances, along with tips on how to overcome them.
What causes the French to be particularly miserable after their hols? Well it doesn’t help that – according to research – France is one of the world’s most depressed populations. (A study in 2008 showed the French took more antidepressants than any other country).
It also doesn’t help that they have so much holiday to take. The World Bank estimates that French workers get 36 days of paid holiday a year, six more days than the 30 given to the Belgians, the 28 for us Brits and 27 for the hard working Swiss.
Some French workers get even more. State controlled utility EDF is trying to renegotiate with 30,000 of its staff to wind back on the 10 weeks paid holiday it gives them each year. (Good luck with that one, we say).
Spreading all those holidays evenly over the year might lighten the Frenchman’s mood, but most of them take them all in one – very long – go, during August. Having such an extended time away from work clearly makes getting back into the work routine all the more difficult.
To get up to speed more quickly, French psychologists advise their clients to ‘reconnect with your colleagues, highlight your priorities and make a to-do list’. All very pragmatic. But we particularly liked their most important piece of advice – at least to a French person – ’start planning your next holiday’.