If you’re back at work after enjoying some time off over the holidays, the chances are you’re struggling.
It might be nice to have more of a routine after a week of sitting around in your pyjamas, returning to work can feel like a rude awakening.
One minute you’re enjoying lie-ins, eating leftovers and mainlining Christmas films on Netflix (NFLX), the next, you’re having to think about emails, projects and your boss. It’s not an easy transition at the best of times, but may feel particularly disruptive after the catastrophe of 2020 and the ongoing pandemic.
There’s no official name for this feeling, but experts suggest it’s like a “post-holiday hangover” — which can feel even more rough if you don’t really like your job in the first place.
“When taking time off from work it can be hard to get back into the routine of things and start again,” says psychology and coach trainer Rebecca Lockwood. “Especially this year because it has been so stop and start for so many people. Things have constantly been changing with not much solid routine for people.”
Thankfully, there are things you can do to ease yourself back into work again. Here’s how to get through the first few days.
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Check in with your goals for work
Lockdown recommends checking back in with what your goals are for work, to clarify what you should be working on and give yourself some direction. It can be difficult to think about what you’re doing at work with the brain fog that often follows the festive period.
“What are you working towards? What are you helping people with? How does this light you up?
Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help you to check back in to what you are working for,” she says.
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Remind yourself of why you started
It can also help to remind yourself about why you began working in your job or business in the first place. Think about why you took the job, what you enjoyed about it or the positives of working there. If you like your colleagues but are working from home at the moment, make an effort to stay in touch online.
“What was the reason why you started and how can you use this to motivate yourself to start back at work now? Tapping into this can give you the boost you may need right now to keep yourself moving,” Lockwood says.
Let’s face it — we are rarely productive and enthusiastic about work over the first few days back, so don’t expect too much of yourself. Work your way through your emails and attend to smaller tasks to ease yourself back in.
Set small, achievable goals to get that sense of accomplishment, which can be motivating to tackle the bigger, more challenging tasks.
Get into a routine
Many of us abandon our schedules for a much-needed rest over the Christmas period, but it’s far easier to get back into the swing of work with a routine. Clear schedules can help us to plan our time more effectively, anticipate outcomes and feel in control.
Routines have the power to improve our sleep, reduce anxiety and boost our cognitive function, and can even have an impact on mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Avoid social media
There are few things worse than being back at work and scrolling through Instagram to see pictures of friends lucky enough to still be on holiday. Even if it’s just for a few days, log out of your social media accounts and be mindful of your usage.
Look after yourself
Being back at work isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be completely miserable. Many of us set strict New Year’s resolutions of extreme diets, exercise regimes and more, which make us feel worse when we inevitably abandon them on 5 January.
Being kind to yourself is more important than sticking to rigid rules. Take regular breaks, go for walks and do the things you enjoy doing. If you want to eat chocolate and leftover cheese boards, do it - and don’t feel guilty. Filling every day with small pleasures is important to our health and wellbeing.
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