5 ways you can beat the back-to-work blues

There are small things you can do after a holiday to help ease yourself back into your regular routine. Here are five tips for beating the back-to-work blues.

OneLife  staff writer

OneLife staff writer

Staff writer

Have you ever returned from a holiday experiencing a low mood, feelings of anxiety, a sense of isolation and even a lack of motivation? You just might have a case of back-to-work blues.

What exactly is the cause of this feeling, and how can we overcome it? To investigate, we spoke with Aisling Hoey at Happiness Concierge, a training company that helps people succeed at work and in life. Aisling recently returned from her own holiday, so she has some first-hand experience in combatting the back-to-work blues.

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Come home early

We’re all guilty of wanting to maximise our vacation time, but coming home a day earlier will help make your return easier. An early arrival will give you time to unpack properly, pick up some essential groceries, do your laundry and catch up on sleep (which can drastically impact your mood).

Or, you can follow Aisling’s lead, and start preparing for your return to work while on holiday. “I like sitting down with a cocktail and making myself a goals list two or three days before going home, so that I can get my head around my work life again and set myself up for success,” she says. That way you’re already mentally engaged before you even set foot in the office.

Ease yourself in

Working yourself into the ground after a holiday can be tempting. You might think you’ve had your chance to relax and now it’s straight back to the daily grind. But it’s important to give yourself some time to adjust. “Returning to work after a multi-week vacation can be a jolt to the system. Instead of berating yourself, think of it as an indication of a successful ‘switch off’ from work and a call to action to re-engage,” Aisling says.

Still, the act of disconnecting is in itself necessary. “To connect with our playful holiday brain, we have to unplug our ever problem-solving, get-it-done brain. And we need the reset. It can be helpful to think of it as a ‘ctrl-alt-delete’ moment for the soul.” This reboot is exactly what will allow you to re-engage with your work, so take things slow. Aisling’s advice? “Do your best to approach the re-adjustment in a light-hearted way, stick it out for a week or so, and you’ll absolutely get there.”

Connect with your colleagues

One of the best things about returning to the office is catching up with your work friends and sharing all the details of your holiday. Having support from workmates will certainly make the transition back to routine easier.

But, as Aisling reminds us, those holiday anecdotes may have an expiry date – especially if everyone is under the pump at work. Instead, she suggests using the holiday as an opportunity to connect with your colleagues on what excites them. For example, try something like, ‘A highlight of the trip was reading books. What have you been reading lately, any articles you’d recommend?’ Or, ‘Are you planning any time off yourself? Any places on your bucket list?’

Treat yourself

One of the best ways to beat the back-to-work blues is to give yourself some small things to look forward to throughout the week of your return.

Aisling suggests scheduling something simple that you will appreciate. “A 20-minute massage straight after work, a favourite magazine, comedy show, exercise class or meeting an uplifting friend helps the contentment continue.” Self-care is a big part of making the transition back to working life an easy one. “Focus on supporting yourself like your best friend would,” she advises.

Plan your next break

According to research, the happiness that you derive from a holiday lasts for approximately two weeks upon your return to routine. One way to beat the blues is to try and ensure that there’s consistently something on the horizon that you’re anticipating. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to start planning your next trip as soon as you get back from your holidays.

It’s also important to note that a constant feeling of negativity associated with work could speak to an underlying issue. “There is a difference between back-to-work blues and job dissatisfaction,” Aisling says. “If you find you are experiencing a low mood most of the day, nearly every day, or you are not enjoying the things you used to enjoy, speaking to a GP about how you are feeling is a great first step. Anxiety and depression are a very real and common experience in our lives, and support is out there to help you.”

OneLife  staff writer

OneLife staff writers come from a range of backgrounds including health, wellbeing, music, tech, culture and the arts. They spend their time researching the latest data and trends in the health market to deliver up-to-date information, helping everyday Australians live healthier lives. This is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances. The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional, tax or other advice. It does not take into account any individual’s personal situation or needs. You should consider obtaining professional advice from a financial adviser and/or tax specialist, or medical or health practitioner, in relation to your own circumstances and before acting on this information.