Post Summer Blues?
Now we have hit September, many workers returning from summer breaks will be experiencing post-holiday blues.
One minute it's French rose, Cornish ice-cream and Greek salad days, topping up the tan and sand between your toes; the next you're battling through the inbox or rush hour , with a desk groaning under the weight of a packed in-tray.
For many of us when the schools reopen, its the death knell of summer – a return to work which comes with its own black armband - the promise of continuous travail until the onslaught of Christmas.
In a survey of workers around the world, it was found that the British are particularly unhappy in their jobs. Two-thirds said they dreaded Monday mornings. A Monday morning after a holiday can be a cause for even greater depression. What’s more, 76% of returning employees estimate their stress levels are back to pre-holiday highs within a week of returning to work.
So what can be done to ease the transition and boost your productivity in those first days and beyond?
Stay in the holiday mood. Although lie-ins and siestas may be out, don’t abandon the rhythm of your holiday altogether. Even if you have a mountain of work awaiting your return, set a work "exit" time - say 5pm - and stick to it. Don't be tempted to work late ‘catching up’. Working effectively rather than frenetically is key.
Maintain the lifestyle. If you've been enjoying an activity such as swimming during your holiday, make a commitment to scheduling it into your working week. Cook some of the meals you’ve enjoyed. Plan visits to local sights. There is no reason why your UK lifestyle can not mimic your holiday experiences.
Prioritise your work. Only tackle the really important tasks during your first few days. Your return may be welcomed with a deluge of "urgent" requests, but don’t be drawn in. Identify and respond to the essentials, whilst reconnecting with colleagues and what has been happening during your absence.
End the tyranny of your e-mail inbox. British workers are said to send and receive some 200 e-mails a day. A two-week break could leave you wading through upwards of 1,000 electronic messages. Don’t feel pressured into responding to every item. Much of it is of low priority and can wait, or be dealt with through a quick phone call or face-to-face water cooler moment.
Take a break. It may not be a substitute for dozing on a Mediterranean beach, but half an hour in the park, 15 minutes in the canteen or five minutes away from your desk can help keep you sane and provide your brain with the distance it needs to gain perspective on those knotty issues.
Plan more leave. Increasingly, we are neglecting to take our full holiday entitlement, so with four busy months before Christmas, it could be worth planning some days off. The UK lags behind the rest of Europe in terms of public holidays. We have eight, the French and Germans have around 14 and the Italians 16. Booking off a Friday and Monday could provide you with a mini-break boost to see you through to winter.
Don't feel guilty. It's bad enough missing your sun lounger and 800-page beach novel; don't make it worse by feeling guilty for leaving your colleagues in the "lurch" while you were gone. Battling to make up for "slacking off" on holiday is a sure way to increase your stress levels.
Holidays are healthy. We gain variety in our food, increase vitamin A intake, get more rest, exercise, listen to the sounds of lapping water, laugh more and store up feel-good memories. If anything, you’re doing your work and yourself a favour by taking that summer break. Relish it.