How to Recover from Back to Work Blues
Going back to work after a vacation is often a stressful and demotivating experience, as your head and heart remain on vacation whilst your physical presence is well and truly required at work. This article discusses some quick solutions to ease the pain of returning to work after time out enjoying what the rest of the world has to offer.
Accept the importance of being present. Turning up with a holiday mindset can cause problems at work, ranging from lack of concentration on the tasks at hand to forgetting appointments and the names of new clients. Your colleagues and bosses might give you a little leeway, especially if some are in the same position, but not for long! Accept that you've had a great break and that you're marvelously refreshed; now it's time to get on with what you're good at in a work environment.
1. Tidy up.
If you left a mess before you went on vacation, shame on you, but now's the time to remedy it! Upon your return, ease back into work by spending a morning or day organizing your space.
- Tidy up your desk space, shelves and files.
- Clean out the in-box and electronic files.
Be in great shape for the next months ahead by using your current holiday energy to sweep away the cobwebs of the tired, pre-vacation you. Returning to this more efficient and tidy work system and space will make you feel better each day of the rest of the week.
You probably have heard many times that exercise is the answer to everything—that's because it's often true! Going to the gym or pilates class, taking a 5 mile (8.0 km) run, or simply walking for a half hour will make you feel a lot better. Your physical well-being flows back into your emotional well-being and helps you to work better and focus more.
3. Plan the next vacation.
It can help the transition if you start making plans immediately for the next vacation experience. Call into a travel agent at lunchtime or set up a new travel planning itinerary on your favorite travel website when you get home that evening. Doing this might give you a renewed sense of adventure and make work seem less onerous; after all, work pays for those plane flights!
4. Plan the next weekend away.
Yes, get out again the weekend following your return. Wash the clothes and unpack the larger bags during the weeknights so that your next weekend is free to enjoy.
- Take a much smaller bag and drive on down to a local beach, forest or desert retreat to unwind and recall those blissful easy vacation days of a week before.
- Take work with you only if you must.
- If you find that the mini-vacation/break works for you, try to make it a regular arrangement and take the work along if it fits in without spoiling the experience.
If work is really continuing to get you down on your return, your reaction may be telling you something a lot more serious, like it's time to move on.
Ask yourself some honest and direct questions about whether the job is challenging you enough and is fulfilling your wishes at this time in life. If the answers are no, maybe it's time to buff up the resume, butter up the referees and get out and advertise yourself for a new job.
- Return to work on a Tuesday, mid-week, or when a long weekend immediately follows work return. The fewer days at work help to create a sense of space and time that you can deal with mentally, rather than having to slog it out over a long week.
- Get updates from a friend at work about what you missed. This will help you to feel more comfortable about where things are at since you left for vacation, as well as giving the two of you an excuse to catch up for morning coffee. Ideally, catch up for breakfast before you go back to work, to avoid any nasty surprises.
- Don't get upset if your in-box is overflowing. "Jane, I thought you were supposed to take care of the work orders while I was gone!" Instead of jumping on Jane, take a quick break until you calm down.
- If you work from home, resettling back in the routine can be harder because there is nobody else to set your routine to, and you can be tempted to keep dealing with post-vacation cleaning and reminiscing. As stated above, clean up your usual workspace, set yourself a routine, and plan a routine. Get out of the house for lunch if needed.