Managing the Back to Work Blues

05 September 2016 -


The summer holiday season has come to an end and workers are returning to their desks and work. Insights reveals useful tips for handling the return to work and the inevitable mood drop that accompanies it

Jermaine Haughton

From sun, sea and sand to shirts, stressful commutes and backlogged emails. As many workers return to work in September after a relaxing and enjoyable holiday, the fog of gloom is likely be experienced by even the most satisfied of employees.

It often begins before you've even finished your holiday – a miserable, panicky feeling in your gut reminding you that you'll soon be returning to work. No one enjoys going back to the grindstone after a fun-filled break.

While your greatest dilemmas each day on holiday may have been whether to go sunbathing or sightseeing, your return to the hustle and bustle will leave you feeling disorientated for at least a few minutes.

Everything will suddenly feel slower - getting out of bed, getting dressed and typing out emails. Then there’s the work-related things that have slipped from your mind. Do you remember the code to get into your building, or the password for your email? I know, very frustrating.

Even gripping hold of a pen or a computer mouse can take a while to get used to again, after your hands have become accustomed to gripping Pina Coladas for a week or two.

For those thrown straight back into the fire of deadlines, demanding clients and customers and passive-aggressive emails, the fantasies begin - day-dreaming about quitting your job and moving to an exotic island far, far away to sell surfboards on beaches.

Here are five simple ways to ease your way back into the workplace:

Start from the basics

Chances are that you’re feeling jet-lagged or just very tired. If you have the opportunity to, try and get a decent night’s sleep by going to bed earlier and waking up an hour or two earlier than you usually would for work. Have your work clothes, bags and documents ready the night before work, and focus on having a full, balanced and nutritious breakfast in the morning.

Get to work at least half-an-hour early, and use that extra time to relax, speak to colleagues (and share pleasantries and the latest gossip), get used to sitting in your chair again and mentality readjust to being back in the working environment.

Topple the Email-sauras

Opening your email to 1,352 unread messages can be the ultimate trigger to the blues, but you should not despair. Instead, be brutal.

Judge by the sender and the email heading whether it is an important email, which you will likely need now and in the future, and delete everything else. When you’re down to the bare minimum — instructions from your boss, essentially — reply to those.

To avoid having to go through this rigmarole, employees set to venture on holiday should create an out-of-office email which reads something like: “I am away until X without access to email. If it is important, please contact me again on my return.”

Then when you return to work, you can simply chuck everything in the recycling bin.

Get Social Again, But Slowly

Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are great for posting updates and beautiful pictures of you and your significant others on holiday, and having fun. But, after a week back into the office routine, and still with the after-taste of sunbathing by the sea, the sight of one of your friends or colleagues photos from abroad could leave you feeling very glum.

So take a mini-break from scrolling through Instagram or flicking through Facebook and ease yourself back into your usual social media routine once you’ve stopped longing to be back on the beach.

Transform your workspace

There are few things more frustrating about work than having to live among a messy workspace. And as well as experts purporting the significant benefits clearing your work desk will have on boosting productivity, decluttering is liberating, empowering and a physical way to make decisions about your life.

Decluttering allows you to make a fresh start to your job by getting rid of unnecessary objects, and making room for new, more valuable items, such as a photo of you and the family on holiday – something to constantly keep your spirits high.

Reassess your career and life goals

A well-deserved break is a prime opportunity for you to reset your focus on what you want to achieve both in and out of the office. Anna Rasmussen, a leadership coach and founder of business app Open Blend Method, advises employees to plan their work and personal lives in harmony.

She explained: “Draw a circle and break it into eight segments. Now imagine that everything is running smoothly in your life. Populate each segment with an element that contributes to this feeling – your children, exercise, progression at work, for example.

“Score each from zero to 10 on your level of fulfilment, then decide what you would like your score to be. Now think about what you need to focus on to get there.”

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