Some people come back from their vacations feeling energized, refreshed, and raring to go — but, as it turns out, these people are the fortunate few. The reality is that within three days of their returns, more than half of employees feel their stress levels are as a high as ever — as if they had never even been on vacation.
If you’re one of those people who suffers from the post-vacation, return-to-work blues, there is good news: there are steps you can take to lift your spirits and beat those blues. If you’re feeling down after time away from the office, try these tips”
1. Give Yourself a Buffer Day on Your Return
Experts suggest that you give yourself some decompression time to slowly reacclimate to the 9-5 grind, and there are several ways to do so. The first is to use an extra vacation day after you return to help you sort out domestic affairs, do some planning, and galvanize yourself. The problem with this approach, though, is that you waste a valuable vacation day.
A better way to give yourself a buffer might simply be to return to the office a day before everyone is expecting you. This should ensure you have a quiet day with fewer distractions, helping you to reacclimate.
Another option, if available to you, is to work from home on the first day back or even the first few days back.
Consider leaving your auto-reply on for a few days after you return, creating a further buffer. Let people gradually discover you have returned, rather then opening the doors to the stampede.
2. Rise Above the Chaos With a Plan
Giving yourself some buffer time is all well and good, but you need to use that time wisely. Use your first day back to do some careful planning, rather than diving into all the work that has piled up. Use your first morning in the office to put together a plan of work and action for the week. Don’t try to fit everything in, as you’ll only overload yourself. Prioritize smartly and push the less urgent and less important stuff into the second week or further back.
Once you see your tasks mapped out in a manageable, coherent plan, any feelings of being overwhelmed should be replaced by a sense of control and empowerment.
3. Give Yourself Some Quick Wins
Try to build several quick wins into your plan. Research shows that new hires who achieve quick wins early on are filled with a greater sense of competence and confidence, which leads them to perform better. These motivational effects also apply in return-to-work-after-vacation scenarios.
Make sure to give yourself plenty of quick-win tasks that you can complete this week or in a few short hours. Ticking off all these tasks will give you a greater sense of achievement upon your return to work, boosting your morale and engagement.
4. Plan for Some Fun
It can be tough to transition from a fun-filled holiday lifestyle to the work-oriented life of the office. A great way to ease the transition is to build some fun into your life as your return to work. You could plan a short weekend excursion or a mid-week night out with the family; you could sign up for a fun class at a local college, like cooking or photography. Heck, you could even carve out some time to start planning your next vacation!
Don’t let the return-to-work period be a morbid affair. Seize the day and make sure you give yourself some time to have a little fun.
5. Change Something
The time away from work may have enabled you to step back and see the big picture – and maybe even identify the things you don’t like about your job. Use those insights as motivation upon your return and do something about the aspects of your job that you don’t enjoy. Change something. Take some positive, constructive action to make your life a little better. It could even be as simple as changing your working hours to avoid traffic congestion, giving yourself a less stressful commute. Just do something for yourself.