SUMMER IS drawing to a close and while for some that’s a relief, for others it means a bout of the post-holiday blues. One minute it’s all lazy days on the beach and romantic nights under the stars, the next you’re facing a groaning in-tray and Alice from accounts is wondering why your expense sheet is late.
Of course, it’s quite normal to feel a little down or frustrated when you return to work after a break. Back-to-work blues tend to be temporary, but being back at work can be difficult for many people – whether they are struggling with the problem of limited freedom again or overwhelmed by the level of work thrust on them on their return.
A recent study by YouGov for Investors In People showed that only one in four employees return to work feeling refreshed and almost 60 per cent are less than enthusiastic about resuming their daily chores. Psychology experts claim that 76 per cent of returning employees estimate their stress levels are back to pre-holiday highs within a week of returning to work. This is partly due to the fact that employers expect holiday returnees to hit the ground running, rather than easing back into work.
In reality, people returning to work are usually back in body, but not in spirit. In fact, unless they are very unusual personalities, or have little or no social life outside of work, they are likely to be a little lethargic and almost certainly unmotivated. A survey on recruitment website monster.com reinforces this – only seven per cent claimed not to get some form or other of back-to-work blues.
Further findings from the YouGov survey provide more proof – if it is needed – of the effects of post-holiday blues. Of the 2,000 workers surveyed, a quarter claimed that their post-holiday glow disappears the moment they switch on their PCs and discover an inbox full of emails demanding their attention.
Moreover, more than half of the employees surveyed admitted that they return to their job with the determination that they will spend less time in the office – and a fifth immediately set about planning their next holiday.
So, for all those in need of a post-break boost, here is our guide to retaining the holiday high spirits when you get back to work.
• Stay in the holiday mood. Obviously you’re not going to be able to enjoy long, lazy lunches by the pool, but try to eat the same food that you enjoyed on holiday and go for a swim at the health club.
• Prioritise your work. Only tackle the really important tasks during your first few days.
• Take control of your email inbox. Sift through and only answer the urgent messages – the others can wait.
• Take a break. Don’t sit with your nose to grindstone all day feeling blue – take a walk outside or meet with friends for lunch.
• If you spent the holiday with family or friends, meet up with them. They will help you remember the good times you’ve had, reduce any feelings of isolation at work and help with the next step…which is to start planning your next holiday so you’ll have something to look forward too.
• Pin up a photograph on your pin board of the resort or villa you are planning to visit. Even if it isn’t another holiday, having an event or a treat planned can help give your work fresh purpose.
According to well-known psychotherapist, Phillip Hodson, post-holiday blues are more than a case of being a bit down in the dumps. “Huge demands are being made on us at work both mentally and physically. Going straight back into that from a stress free holiday environment can be a real shock to the system,” he says.
So call into PDM and we’ll help you banish the post-holiday blues!