Career

How to ease back into work after being on holiday

The first few days back can be a challenge.

By Karyn Henger

If, like us, you're back at work this week after enjoying some time off over the festive season we imagine you're struggling as much as we are. While it's great to catch up with your colleagues, being back at work can feel like a rude awakening and it's hard to get into the swing of things.

Literally overnight you go from enjoying lie-ins and doing whatever you fancy to structure, routine and discipline. A post-holiday crash is inevitable, making you feel overwhelmed, down in the dumps, and not sure where to begin with your work load.

While there's no official name for feeling this way, psychologists do recognise this as 'back to work blues' or a 'post-holiday hangover'. It's a sort of anti-climactic state that can feel even worse if you're not particularly happy in your job in the first place.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to ease yourself back into work again. Here's how to get through the next few days:

Keep your expectations realistic

Don't expect too much of yourself on your first few days back. Work your way through your emails and attend to smaller tasks to ease yourself back in. Set small, achievable goals so that you feel a sense of accomplishment. You may not believe it now, but this will pave the way towards you feeling more motivated to tackle the bigger tasks soon.

Don't dwell on what you can't change

We can make ourselves feel worse by focusing too much on the fact our holiday has come to an end.

Professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University in Illinois Dr Angelos Halaris suggests: "Know that something you enjoyed has come to an end, but make peace with it and know it will come back again. Resist feeling sorry for yourself.

"Self talk and being optimistic is important."

If you need a lift, look at kitten pictures online, he suggests. We have colleagues who swear by watching comedy to boost their spirits. Michael McIntyre, Mock of the week and are among their go-tos.

Even chatting to your workmates about how you're feeling can help. Chances are, they're feeling the same way too.

Create new habits

Take advantage of the break you've had in your routine to create new and healthier office habits this year. If you always ate lunch at your desk make a point of taking your lunch break elsewhere. Sit out in the sun or make use of your communal office space. Why not invite your colleagues to join you? They may be looking for a reason to ditch eating at their desks too.

Did you always work late last year because everyone else seemed to and you felt obliged to follow suit? Now is the time to break that cycle. In some working cultures staying late only tells your boss that you're not coping with your work load - we think that's a better way to view leaving on time.

You might choose to be friendlier to others in the building or get into the habit of taking regular breaks from your desk... it all helps towards empowering you and putting you back in the driver's seat.

Make a little bit of your holiday part of everyday

The best thing about being on holiday is we have more time to spend doing the things we love. Why put those things on hold just because we're back at work?

We are all time-poor, but filling every day with small pleasures is important to our health and wellness. Whether it's yoga sessions or evening swims or drinking coffee in the sun or catching up with old friends - find a way to keep these rituals in your life, they're not just reserved for times of annual leave.

Take breaks

Nothing makes a day longer than remaining at your desk. Take regular mini breaks to refill your water, make tea or simply stretch your legs.

Avoid social media

Well, at least for the next couple of days... You will only make yourself feel worse if you spend your lunch breaks scrolling through Instagram and Facebook looking at pictures of other people who are lucky enough to still be on holiday.

Make plans

Make sure you have something to look forward to on the weekend. You may even want to think about your next holiday.

Hang in there...

This feeling will pass!