How to keep that 'holiday feeling' (when you're back at work)

16 September 2015 Kieron Johnson

We realise that we’ve got our work cut out. Trying to convince you that there are ways you can stay ‘holiday happy’ – even after returning from an away break – may well cause a quizzical eyebrow or two to be raised, but we’re asking you to bear with us. Prepare to see your colleagues dumbfounded.

Taking a well-deserved holiday from work is good for your health and productivity. But these benefits can quickly be undone if you return to an unwieldy inbox and a jam-packed meeting calendar. The good news is, it’s possible to cancel these out.

Holidays are great, but returning to work afterwards? Not so much.

The entry of September means the end of summer is nigh and, with it, almost inevitable post-holiday blues.

As you get back into your workflow, here’s some tactics to extend that ‘holiday feeling’ and lessen the pain of settling in.

Have a break…have a holiday

You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that holidays are good for you.

Taking time off work can radically boost your physical and emotional wellbeing. This applies to conventional holidays and ‘stay-cations.’

So, if you feel a little down in the dumps or out of sorts once your holiday is over, that’s perfectly natural. It’s what psychologists call ‘post-traumatic vacation syndrome’ (PTVS).

Here’s a round-up of hints on how to plan, take and return from holiday so you can make your first day back at work 100% PTVS-free.

Beat the (post-holiday) blues

1.Clue-in your colleagues

If you’re planning to be away for a fortnight or more, start letting your close colleagues know that you’ll be out of the office between X and Y dates. Then, at the two-week mark, set an auto-responder message (or something similar) to say that you’ll be going off the grid soon.

Whilst your colleagues might think you’re rubbing your holiday plans in their faces, you’ll actually be doing them a huge favour by giving them ample time to prepare for your absence (lessening your stress upon your return).

2.Keep calm and carry on

It’s well-documented that adventurous getaways tend to increase anxiety upon returning to work whereas calmer holidays have the opposite effect.

Even if you’re intending to bungee jump your way through your holiday, you may want to consider factoring in at least one relaxation day. You’ll have more gas in the tank for the rest of your trip, plus you’ll have less fatigue to fight once it’s over with.

Your post-holiday self will thank you for it.

3.Turn it on (your ‘holiday mindset’)

This next tip may seem a bit ‘out there,’ but we urge you to stick with us.

By activating your ‘holiday mindset’ in the office, you’ll bring the mental qualities that you enjoyed during your holiday to your work environment.

Rohan Gunatillake, creator of the mindfulness meditation app, Buddhify, recommends imagining yourself as a tourist with all the enthusiasm that entails. Find a small detail in a road, building or other structure that you hadn’t noticed previously. Commit some time to observing it.

Apparently, this process will increase your ‘mindfulness,’ reducing stress throughout the day. Sound a bit iffy? Gunatillake swears by it.

What have you got to lose (aside from PTVS)?

4.Take a reality check

After you return to the daily grind, it can be mighty tempting to start planning your next holiday.

But, let’s face it, this isn’t the best remedy for eliminating post-holiday blues. It’s probably more likely to make a bad situation worse. Why? Because the chances are that you’ll always be spending more time working than you will on holiday, so you’ll constantly feel like a dog chasing its tail.

Unpacking your stuff the moment you return will help you to take a much-needed reality check (that your holiday really is over), making way for you to return to your normal working life.

Instead, you should completely re-engage in the world of work by not despising the small things. Just as there are aspects of a holiday that can deplete our reserves, there are also elements of working that replenish them.

Find them and relish them.

5.Cut yourself some slack

Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Meier, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group Joint Intelligence Support Element Fusion Cell NCO in charge, stands in front of his Airman Battle Uniform pants that he fit into in April when he arrived at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Since then, Meier who is deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and is a native of Edwall, Wash., has lost about 60 pounds by running and eating right.

Making a last-minute return from your holiday can have long-lasting effects on your mental wellbeing. The transition from play to work will be a brutal one that you could well do without.

If possible, give yourself a day or so to re-group before re-entering the workplace. So, instead of returning on a Sunday night with a view to a Monday morning start, try returning on Saturday.

This way, you can take some time to sift through your zillion emails and take care of any other business by Sunday afternoon at the latest.

6.Feng shui your office

The less cluttered and more organised your work space, the better you’re likely to feel, so try to kick off your back-to-work campaign with a clean slate.

Returning to work from a holiday can have its challenges, but you can meet these challenges head-on with an open mind and a clear desk.