Back to work? Here are 8 handy tips to avoid a post-holiday meltdown

Coming home from a blissful summer break, knowing that you’re going to have to face all of those unread emails, can be enough to make you want to book next year’s trip as soon as you step off the plane.

But returning to the office doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to sleepless nights, miserable mornings and workplace stress.

We spoke to Shiv Khera, author of self-help guide You Can Achieve More, about how to maintain that calm holiday state now that you’re back at your desk.

1. Avoid the water cooler

We all have that colleague who loves nothing more than a good moan round the water cooler about all the annoyances they’ve had to put up with while you were away, but getting involved in workplace gossip can pollute your mind with negative thoughts before you’ve even sat down.

“You wouldn’t let a colleague dump a bag of rubbish on your desk so why would you let them offload their negativity onto you?” says Khera.

“If they make a beeline for you, try to politely cut them off before they can start ranting. I’d advise you stay away from gossip, as people who gossip with you will also gossip about you.”

2. Cut the worry cycle

While you were on holiday, all your worries seemed so far way – but now that you’re back, if feels like you never went away in the first place.

“When anxiety strikes, it’s good to remember that everything we worry about falls into two categories: things we can do something about and things we can do nothing about,” says Khera.

“If you can do something about it, why worry about it? But equally, if you can’t do something about it, why worry about it either?

“Change what you can, or graciously accept what you cannot – and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

3. Remember you’re in control

Khera describes our minds as being like “thought factories” that can generate either negative or positive thoughts. “We can condition our minds to simply measure what we’re feeling and thinking – like a thermometer measures the temperature – or we can read and regulate our mind like a thermostat.

“Remember: you’re in control of your mind,” assures Khera. “You can regulate negative thoughts and feelings of back-to-work stress, and in the end, it’s easier not to feel overwhelmed.”

4. Set a new goal

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Plan. Goal. On the way.

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If you’ve been dreaming of a promotion, hitting a target or getting a pay rise all holiday, set yourself a goal and a time-bound action plan for how you’re going to do it. “This will kick-start you into positive work mode and boost your motivation,” Khera believes.

“Set your goals slightly out of reach, but not out sight. Out of reach is motivating; out of sight is demotivating.”

5. Arrange to meet friends

“We need to strike a balance in our lives between work time and family and friends time,” says Khera.

“If being back in the office means you have a huge workload to get through, it’s all too easy to work late and avoid socialising – but our mental health depends on balance, and it’s important to maintain this. Meeting friends is time well invested as it helps you to rejuvenate.”

6. Write a realistic to-do list and prioritise it

In the blind panic of your first day back in the office, it’s tempting to sit down and write a huge list of all the things you need to get done, without prioritising. This usually means you end up doing what’s easy and pleasurable rather than what is actually important.

“Being overambitious can lead to burnout,” warns Khera. “Of course, working hard is good, but burning out is not good – so be realistic about what you can achieve.”

7. Avoid negative TV

Input determines output, and if you read, watch or listen to something positive and uplifting, it will have an equal effect on your mood.

“Anything that’s full of negativity will bring you down and kill that happy holiday vibe,” says Khera, so stick to the lighter side of Netflix.  “What you do when you get home from work is as important as what you do while you’re there.”

8. Write a ‘success list’ at the end of the day

Ever tried developing a delete button for negative thoughts? Perhaps it’s time to start.

“It’s good to reflect but try to avoid dwelling on any mistakes or anything you haven’t got done,” says Khera. “Try to remember all the good things you’ve achieved and list them to yourself at the end of your working day.

“Thinking about your successes – however small – will leave you feeling motivated for the next day, so close your day on a positive note from now on.”

- Press Association

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