Overcoming the "back to work" blues
The holiday season is essentially over and many of us are returning to work and finding it hard to adjust. Some of the adjustment is about traveling to and from work in traffic, others include spending time again with people you have not seen or spoken with for weeks, learning again how the computer works and even trying to remember your password.
Many of us may have spent time on our holiday worrying about getting back into the groove of work, some may have even been panicking about it. The harsh reality is that we will all face our return to work after holidays in different ways and with different expectations.
Managing Getting Back to Work
Getting back to work can feel odd and everything may appear to be slower. Writing notes, remembering to write 2019 as the year, using your computer, tidying your desk or workplace at the end of your first day may all feel strange. Being confronted with an overloaded email inbox and a demanding client or boss adds pressure that we need to think about putting contingencies in place for. In most cases, there is no rule to say you must bring your email account back a single screen of inbox items on your first day. It will be very similar for other errands on your first day or first few days back at work. Thinking through your key priorities becomes critical to ensure you get what you can done. You may need to become quite ruthless with some tasks – maybe even sort correspondence into three piles like: action (to do), read and file later and even dump.
For email, if not already set up, you may need to add a column on your email screen to show who the sender is – having this information might help you to sort out your priorities for handling the seemingly never ending inbox.
Start with the Basics
There is every chance you will be tired when you return to work. You will need to think about and practice sleep patterns much more suitable for working. Exercise campaigns may need to be restored. Allowing time to prepare clothes and even to make or have money ready to buy your favourite hot drink and meal become new needs.
Your aim should be to pace yourself for the first few days or even weeks – at the end of your work day, get home and rest – this will help you to adjust more easily. How helpful would it be to take a quick walk around the block or in a nearby park for just a few minutes to help you collect your thoughts?
Getting back to work, into healthy patterns can be challenging. Think about a healthy breakfast to start your day, keep yourself hydrated, preferably with water, and include some moments of activity – even standing, walking for short distances. Psychologists indicate that being active can help us with alertness and improve our mood at work. They also tell us to avoid making drastic decisions just after coming back from a break. Meredith Fuller, a Melbourne psychologist suggests if we are unhappy about being back at work, we need to examine whether this is just because we are not on holidays rather than being at work.
Getting back to work also brings a restoration of a different social setting for most people. We may find it easy to accept invitations for social gatherings or get engrossed in social media activity that actually impedes our ability to transition from holidays to work. Act with some caution when accepting requests and even asking others to catch up. Try to avoid letting others bombard you with their stories and achievements but don’t be rude and ignorant – our workplace is very much a social setting and we need to ensure we follow the sense of teamwork.
Whilst we might feel social things are a priority, getting your mind “work ready” is more important – if you gain control of your work, letting other things wait can ease pressure on you managing your “back to work blues”.
Take time to check your own goals and strategies
An often overlooked opportunity when returning to work after holidays is the chance to assess your personal goals, career aims and strategies of achieving these. It does not mean planning and changing jobs but taking time to assess how your career is tracking, and whether you can consider focussing on a new project might help to grow your energy and mood. Most of us will have participated or participate in our mid year PPR meeting. Have you thought about taking on a new hobby? Maybe it is time to think about some volunteer work? Thinking about these things is not intended to burden you with more but to get your mind around some fresh ideas and opportunities.
Getting back into routines and our work can be hard for many of us. It is important to remember that these “back to work blues” will dissipate and your work will again fill much of your waking hours. Take time and be patient with yourself and others. Remember that you were on holidays thanks to you actually being able to take some time away from work.
Welcome back to those who have been away, go well to those yet to take a break and let’s all help to make 2019 a truly successful, satisfying and happy new year.