How to handle going back to work (without crying at your desk)

back_to_work

What are the odds that you’ll wake up every morning this week (the first full working week in 2 weeks for most of us), open one eye and think: ‘Why on earth is my alarm going off in the middle of the night?’

Then: reality will strike. Christmas is over. The new year has dawned – all the cheerful “Happy New Year” greetings have petered out. The reality is there are no more duvet days in your pyjamas, watching Love Actually and browsing the sales online.

You actually have to work.

It’s enough to depress  even the most enthusiastic of you. Over the past fortnight, if you’re lucky, you’ve been in hibernation – living in a bubble, full to the brim with Celebrations and the entire cheese board whilst living in an alcoholic induced warm fuzz.

So now what? How do you break out of your cocoon and return to reality? Especially when you feel like you’ve just rediscovered that Santa doesn’t exist?

The first step is to embrace the blues. Because  they’re not your fault.  Researchers , (those mystical people  with no name), have found that the negative emotions associated with the end of the festive period, plus two weeks of irregular sleep patterns, not to mention irregular breakfast patterns, (I am still missing my brekkie of Terry’s Chocolate Orange),  can throw our body-clocks out of synch and make us feel jet-lagged.

Returning to our normal routine of early nights and waking up in the dark can induce what’s been dubbed “social jet lag”. Symptoms might include: feeling sluggish, struggling to sleep, indigestion, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, clumsiness, lack of energy and general fatigue, (alas for me though –  never the loss of appetite!)

Of course the “experts” tell us that the only way to negate these side-effects is to stick, as far as possible, to your normal waking hours over Christmas and New Year  – ummmm – not going to happen though is it really!!

So how do you get your mojo back after Christmas  – it can be hard if your usual motivation is easily affected by office politics, personnel changes, varying workloads, boredom, career progression challenges or the fact your social life eclipses anything else!

Acceptance

The first thing you need to do is accept that in order to pay the bills, fund your shopping habit, have a holiday, provide a social life for your children, (and yourself), you need to work!. Turning up with a “can’t be ar*ed” post Christmas mindset can cause problems in the workplace, ranging from lack of concentration on the tasks at hand to forgetting things and annoying your colleagues.

Tidy Up

If you left a mess before you went on holiday, shame on you, but now’s the time to remedy it. Take some time to organise your work space, sort your desk out, create some space! Have a rummage in your drawers and throw out the decaying nuts and dried fruit from last years health kick, the cuppa soups that went out of date last millennium and all the other bits and pieces you don’t need!  Clear your in-box of all the junk mail and the emails you’ve already dealt with.

Exercise

You probably have heard many times that exercise is the answer to everything—that’s because it’s often true!  Instead of queuing for the lift at home time, jog down the stairs, in your lunch break have a quick walk around outside and blow the cobwebs away. Your physical well-being flows back into your emotional well-being and helps you to work better and focus more (so they say!).

Plan Your Next Holiday

Everyone needs something to look forward to and with seemingly endless dark winter nights and equally dingy mornings – it’s good to think about sunshine, blue seas, sandy beaches, food, beer .. and more sunshine. Doing this might give you a renewed sense of adventure and make work seem less onerous; after all, work pays for those flights!

Reassess

If work is really continuing to get you down on your return, your reaction may be telling you something a lot more serious, like it’s time to move on.

Ask yourself some honest and direct questions about whether the job is challenging you enough and is fulfilling your wishes at this time in life. If the answers are no, maybe it’s time to buff up the CV, butter up the referees and get out and advertise yourself for a new job.

So whether you look for a new role, or take up a hobby – it’s a good idea to think about something new as you gear up to restart the working year of 2017.

You’ve just had a glimpse into a world where work wasn’t the be all and end all. Try to capitalise on this objectivity.  Burying your head in the sand won’t bring Christmas back.

And finally, remember that everyone is in the same boat. Some people even went back to work earlier than you. Only Santa Claus can get away without making a to-do list until next December rolls around.

“You can’t have a good day with a bad attitude – and you can’t have a bad day with a good attitude”

Written by Sally Hutchinson

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