New Zealand Business Owners are notorious for not taking holidays at “Holiday Time”. A recent American survey showed that at least half of the 1,000 surveyed did not plan to take a summer holiday. Some cited lack of money, and 22 percent claimed they could not take time off from work. It’s true that after returning from a relaxing holiday, returning to a high-stress work environment and a mountain of work can be a shock to the system.
If taking additional time off isn’t viable, that doesn’t leave you without options. The five strategies listed below can protect your mental health during the transition from holiday mode to the everyday work routine and beat the post-holiday blues.
1. Ease Back into the Routine
It’s unrealistic to expect to hit the ground running immediately after returning from a holiday. Instead, ease back into the routine while paving the way toward getting back into gear. If possible, come in a day before your planned return to sort through unread emails and written materials. Divide them into two categories: “To Do” and “To Wait” so that you’ll know what to address first once you make your official return to work.
Refrain from overfilling your work calendar for the first few days after coming back and avoid the temptation of jumping into a series of meetings right away. Instead, block off time in your calendar to meet individually with key people — especially those who have covered for you while you were away. You should also set aside time to return phone calls, respond to emails and correspondence in your “To Do” category and catch up on other urgent matters.
2. Take Breaks Throughout the Day
One of the purposes of a holiday is to relax, distress and recharge. It’s natural that your mind will still be in holiday mode when you first return to work. Rather than dismiss this mindset utilize it during breaks throughout the day. According to an article in Psychology Today, imagining yourself in a location where you experienced enjoyment yields beneficial neurological effects. These breaks don’t have to be elaborate. It’s sufficient to lean back in your chair and close your eyes for a few moments. If possible, leave your work area entirely and step outside for sunshine and fresh air.
3. Anticipate Future Time Off
Even if you love what you do, taking breaks is essential. One way of ensuring that holidays are a viable option is by planning ahead. According to a report produced by Project Time Off, 52 percent of workers who actively plan their holidays actually wind up taking all their allotted time off — versus just 40 percent of non-planners.
The first days of returning from your holiday represent an ideal time to plan your next period of time off from work. Even if you can’t pull off another full-fledged getaway right away, the anticipation of a long weekend a few weeks or months down the road can be enough to get you through those long piles of paperwork. You’ll be amazed by the benefits to your mental health.
4. Incorporate Your Holiday into Everyday Existence
Post-holiday letdown can give you a case of the blues. Especially if your time off was spent in an exciting or exotic location, your everyday existence can seem humdrum in comparison. Why not incorporate some of the aspects of your holiday into your regular routine? If you enjoyed eating delicious foods from another cuisine, include some of those items on your next grocery trip. These days, many grocery stores include extensive ethnic food sections. You may even have specialty stores in your location. Other commodities, such as clothing, writing papers, magazines and music can add a touch of holiday variety into your everyday life.
5. Recharge with Family and Friends
Numerous research studies have shown that prolonged isolation tends to feed depression. While you may be too busy at work to resume a regular social calendar right away after returning from holiday, avoid the tendency to get bogged down with work for weeks and months after your return. Instead, surround yourself with family and friends by scheduling fun activities or simply to decompress from the pressures of your work.
Your budget may be stretched thin after taking time off. Nonetheless, it’s important to make plans for fun during evenings or regular weekends, such as get-togethers with friends. Nothing elaborate or costly is necessary — a potluck dinner or an evening watching a DVD is an inexpensive way to reconnect with the important people in your life.
Planning for the time after your return from holiday can avoid the pitfalls of the post-holiday blues. Doing so can help preserve the benefits of rest, relocation and time away from work, and help you be more productive once you return.