If the thought of transitioning from late-night movie marathons to early morning Zoom calls causes your stomach to lurch, you’re in good company. A recent survey conducted by MetLife found that more than 75% of employees experience work-related stress following the holiday break.
Even if you aren’t returning to the office in-person, readjusting to the nine to five grind isn’t easy. After several days (or weeks) of setting your own schedule, taking naps, and grazing on seasonal snacks, it’s hard to sit down and focus for eight hours.
To make the back-to-work process as smooth and pain-free as possible, it’s important to prepare in advance. By embracing your circumstances, drafting a to-do list, and prioritizing tasks, it’s possible to stay focused and productive, even if you’d rather be somewhere else.
Feel those feelings. Going back to work after a long break is never easy, even if you love your job. Daily tasks like responding to emails, attending meetings, and handling client demands are a far cry from playing in the snow or spending time with friends and family.
It’s normal to feel sad, anxious, or even angry. Instead of trying to stuff these feelings down, embrace them. Emotions are messengers and constantly changing. Observe them like you would clouds in the sky. If it helps, write down how you’re feeling and why. You probably won’t feel your best the first two or three days back. That’s okay. Acknowledge your experience, and keep moving forward.
Take steps to cultivate a productive and positive work environment. If it's been a while since you last tidied up your office, wipe down the desktop, clean and sanitize the keyboard, and remove all clutter. If it helps, put a photo on your desk of someone or something you love. You might also want to print out and frame a positive mantra.
Before you sit down and get to work, eat a breakfast that you enjoy and wash it down with your favorite beverage. By taking the time to prepare in advance, you can ease back into work while establishing a healthy self-care routine.
Take regular breaks. There’s always plenty of work to do following a vacation. While it would be nice to complete it all in a day or two, that just isn’t possible. Establish a schedule that allows for regular breaks to maintain momentum. Research shows that taking breaks actually increases productivity and creativity. Time away from the computer gives you time to stretch, retain new information, and mentally regroup.
Play some music. If your job doesn’t require you to hop on Zoom meetings or phone calls too frequently, consider playing some of your favorite tunes. Listening to music can give you a burst of much-needed energy, help alleviate post-holiday anxiety, and improve cognitive performance.
There are plenty of streaming apps to choose from, including Spotify and Pandora, but the company focus@will specializes in adapting your listening experience for optimal productivity.
Socialize with coworkers. Interacting with others after a long break can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember you aren’t alone. Your coworkers are probably experiencing the same feelings. Commiserating together can strengthen bonds and relieve stress. If it helps, focus on topics outside of work. Share about your time off and ask questions. If you’re working from home, schedule a Zoom coffee break. A little bit of social interaction can break the ice and speed up the return to normalcy.
It’s always sad to see the holidays go, but they’ll be here again before you know it. By following these tips and tricks, you can ease back into your normal routine while remaining productive and on-task.
Would you add anything to our list? If so, submit a comment below and let us know.