Come this time of the year, everyone’s a bit stressed — nobody can argue that. But if there was ever a good time to take a break from the grind, it’s the holidays. Even though you may still be tempted to get work done in between holiday parties, it’s hard to move any project forward during this time. After all, the people you work with — your clients and colleagues — are busy enjoying time with their families. As such, the holidays represent a much needed but forced break from work. Of course, even if you give into rest and enjoyment, the holidays are but fleeting bliss. You have to accept when they’re over and eventually get back to work. The post-holiday blues can hit hard. It’s a bit disconcerting to let yourself enjoy a long-awaited holiday vacation, only to realize that you’ll be thrust back into your demanding work schedule when all is said and done.
Experts in career counseling and stress management warn that these post-holiday blues can lead to stress, sadness, and anxiety. In a recent Wyndham Vacation Rentals study, 45% of respondents expressed that the prospect of going home had added to the stress of their vacation! On a similar note, 57% feel depressed or deflated after coming home from vacation.
Whether you like it or not, the holidays won’t last forever. Eventually, you’ll have to face any work you may have put off enjoying them (and the work that piles up after you’ve stepped away from the office). The difference between sinking into post-holiday blues or hitting the ground running upon your return depends on how well you handle the transition back to work. It certainly helps to create strategies to proactively put your wellness first:
Refocus Your Personal Habits
In order to get your work back on track after a holiday break, you must refocus your personal habits.
Develop specific routines to help you regain the right mindset to do great work, such as:
Before officially starting your work, spend 10 minutes every morning getting organized and setting your intentions and goals for the day. Don’t focus on specific tasks so much as the big picture.
Take 15 minutes of your afternoon to go through yoga poses that can help your blood circulation, strengthen your spine, and relieve some stress. A regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.
Use deep breathing techniques throughout the day to help deliver oxygen-rich blood to your body. Jack Feldman, a professor of neurology at UCLA, found that deep breathing helps with anxiety by calming the brain.
Here are a few additional techniques to help you get back into your work groove after the holidays:
Focus on one task at a time. Coming back from a holiday vacation inevitably results in a long to-do list, but multitasking will only add to the time tasks take to accomplish. Put your full focus on just one task at a time, refusing to start on something new until you’ve completed what’s currently on your plate.
Set your priorities. It may be tempting to accomplish back-to-work tasks based on which ones are most top-of-mind. Resist the urge to cross off to-dos based on what you’re currently thinking about and instead mindfully set priorities based on what you need to do now versus what you can plan to do a few days (or even weeks) from now.
Don’t overload yourself right away — ease back into work after a holiday break. “Use the day simply to catch up”, suggests Brad Feld, VC at Foundry Group (who also suggests avoiding meetings on your first day back).
Get your inbox organized. If you haven’t checked your email inbox during the holidays, you’ll likely face an abundance of emails upon your return to work. SELF shares several tips to help you mindfully get back to Inbox Zero, without getting completely overwhelmed.
Pay Attention to Proper Nutrition
Nutrition plays an undeniably large role in regaining focus and improving energy levels.
After all the holiday indulgences you’ve likely taken part in, going back to work represents the perfect opportunity to get back on track with proper nutrition (right on time for New Year’s resolutions!). As a result, proper nutrition provides the ideal fuel for better work performance.
The following strategies can help you to get back on track after holiday indulgences:
Eat on schedule. Eating regularly can prevent you from experiencing hunger pains while maximizing your metabolism (to properly regulate blood sugar, insulin, and your appetite). Skipping meals can result in extreme hunger that can lead to overindulging or overeating on your next meal. Having regular meals fuels your body properly so that you don’t get in your own way when it comes to accomplishing important work tasks.
Drink more water and stay hydrated. Water can help maximize physical performance and hydration helps energy level and brain function. According to Georgia Institute of Technology, even mild dehydration can impact your mental performance.
Eat balanced and nutrient-dense meals. According to research from Brigham Young University, employees with unhealthy diets were 66% more likely to report a productivity loss than the healthy eaters. The research also found that employees who rarely eat fruits, vegetables, and other low-fat foods at work were 93% more likely to have a higher loss of productivity. Even if you’re not interested in proper nutrition from a health standpoint, surely you can get behind it for a productivity boost!
Make Time For Fitness — and Stick To It
Besides its implications for your overall health, one of the many benefits of fitness is improving work productivity.
Proper fitness helps:
Improve alertness and energy.
Improve mental health. Exercising releases serotonin, which can help improve your outlook about coming back to work from the holidays.
Of course, the work and health benefits achieved by exercise aren’t fully realized unless you stick with it. The coming of a new year prompts many to make resolutions for better health, but a large proportion of people who take up a new physical activity drop out again within the first 3 months. It’s important to create goals and accountability in order to maintain motivation.