Psyche Central: Tips on how to deal with work related stress

Picture used for illustrative purposes alone
Picture used for illustrative purposes alone

So what could we do to sustain the holiday feeling and effectively ease our way back, not only to survive but to thrive and be productive?

By Dr Samineh I. Shaheem

Published: Thu 15 Sep 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 16 Sep 2016, 1:27 AM

With the holiday season ending, the first day back at work can be a bit of a struggle for some. There are others who may think 'I'm going to go back to work with renewed energy and excitement after my holiday, ready to create and produce like never before!' Many of us have had similar thoughts where our vision and expectation is slightly different to the reality we encounter.
There is tremendous focus on the challenges associated with our children going back to school after the holidays yet we don't talk nearly as much about the difficulty of slipping back to work without sliding and damaging our psychological well-being.
So what could we do to sustain the holiday feeling and effectively ease our way back, not only to survive but to thrive and be productive?
To begin with, it's always important to revise your career blueprint from time to time. Ask yourself if you've deliberately designed the career path you're on or just ended up there accidentally or due to other people's expectations. Of course, change isn't easy and we convince ourselves it's better to stay at a job we hate rather than risk reshaping our professional world.
 Here are a few common excuses people use for remaining at an unsatisfactory job:

  • Everywhere else is just as bad
  • I've been here so long, might as well just stay
  • Things might get better
  • I shouldn't quit
  • No one loves work
  • I'm not capable of doing anything else
  • I'm too old to start again
  •  It's not the right time, maybe next year
 Begin by turning your can'ts into cans and your dreams into plans. George Eliot summed up the flexible and unconquerable nature of the human psyche when he said, "It's never too late to be who you might have been."
So if you enjoy your work, but still find it tough to adjust, here are some strategies to help with the transition after the holidays.
  • Try and plan your return even before you've left for vacation. Get back a day or two earlier and leave a few days between your first day back and scheduling important meetings, for example. This will give you time to deal with the accumulated emails and to mentally reposition yourself at the office again.
  • Buy a few nice outfits to wear to work. When you look good, you're more likely to feel good.
  • Get souvenirs for your close colleagues. This helps you think about the positive aspects of work while you're away and gives you something to look forward to when you get back.
  • Try and check in occasionally, either through phone calls or emails, so that you aren't bombarded with issues upon your return.
  • Get back into your weekday sleeping/eating pattern a few days prior to rejoining work.
  • Prioritise and identify the difference between your urgent and important tasks.
  • Make plans with colleagues to go for lunch or an early dinner after work to catch up and share stories. 
There's no question about the benefits of a relaxing and enjoyable holiday - in fact, research has found a direct relationship between time off and performance. Ernst & Young, for example, reported that those who take an additional 10 hours of vacation every year improve their end-of-year performance ratings by 8 per cent. Also, those who took regular breaks at work were able to perform with 13 per cent more accuracy than those who did not take breaks.
You can hold on to the benefits of your break by working smarter - not necessarily longer or harder - upon your return through some planning and mindfulness.
Dr Samineh I. Shaheem is an assistant professor of organizational behaviour at Hult International Business School, and a learning & development consultant. Please forward your thoughts/ suggestions for future articles to  & follow her on Twitter: @saminehshaheem, Instagram:

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