You walk back in the office after your glorious holiday, and it instantly feels like you never left. The hundreds of unread emails stare accusingly at you, your boss has called an urgent catch-up meeting, and you feel your stress is rocketing back up to pre-holiday levels. Before you know it, you’re knee-deep in the post-holiday blues.
But does it have to be this way?
Post-holiday blues are incredibly common, and dare I say, pretty normal. After all, who wouldn’t prefer to be lying in a hammock in Thailand than sitting under fluorescent lights in an all-day meeting?
That being said, time away from work is an ideal opportunity to re-focus for the rest of the year- to look at your own goals and implement some strategies to avoid being sucked back into the stress dynamic at work when you return.
Strategies for re-focussing positively at work after holidays
- Take the time to remember why you’re doing the job, and how it fits into your personal and professional goals.
- Once you’ve managed to reframe your job as a vital step towards your goals, you will find it easier to focus and not get distracted by everyday work issues that don’t have bearing on the bigger picture.
- Learn some stress-beating techniques. Deep breathing. Yoga and meditation.Exercise and good diet and sleep habits- all these things have a huge impact on how we manage our stress. There’s also some interesting Harvard Business School research emerging about how re-labelling our negative stress emotions as something positive can lead us to rise to challenges rather than crumpling under pressure. In this way, fear becomes anticipation, flustered becomes excited, and dread becomes caution.
- Learn the art of saying no. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies at work, saying yes when we want to (and genuinely should) be saying no. Read our blog about this here.
- Try to practice gratitude, and focus on something positive when things are going badly. I know, sounds airy-fairy, right? However, the science is there to back it up-there’s some very interesting research coming out of reputable universities about the power of being grateful on reducing our stress hormone levels. So when you feel your stress levels ratcheting up, focus for a moment on something good.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Try to look at everything with a long-term view. Will this issue matter next week, next month, and next year? Will it impact your long-term goals? Almost certainly not.
- Oh, and one last thing- and the easiest of all. Plan something to look forward to- whether it’s a concert- or your next big holiday.
And yes, it is possible that all this reflection on your goals and your job might lead you to changing your circumstances and perhaps deciding that you do want the challenge of that management role in Chicago. Or conversely it might even lead you to taking a sabbatical and hiking across Europe, or to starting your own business.
Holidays and breaks away from the routine of work provide an ideal opportunity to re-discover, or change, your focus. And without focus at work, you’re just drifting, burdened by stress that has no real purpose.
After all, as Jim Rohn has said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
Change is as good as a holiday, or so I hear- even if it’s just re-finding your enthusiasm at work. (Although that might not be quite as good as that hammock in Thailand.)
Until next time,