That vacation will be amazing—a week or two of getting away from it all. You’ll be basking in the sun or maybe setting up a campsite in a quiet place to relax. But before you know it, you’ll start feeling anxious and stressed about all the work waiting for you.
However, your first day back at work doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this blog, we’ll share eight tips to help you gradually ease back into work after your vacation and come back feeling refreshed and prepared for your next tasks.
Why Do You Feel Tired When You Return From a Vacation?
People often expect that spending holidays with family and disconnecting from work will leave them feeling recharged. However, returning from a vacation can be even more exhausting for some people.
In fact, a study from the American Psychiatric Association found that 41 percent of Americans are five times more likely to feel stressed during the holidays.¹ If you’ve ever wondered why you feel tired after a vacation, here are some common reasons behind these post-holiday blues.
1. Post-vacation syndrome.
When you return from a vacation and feel down, anxious, or swamped with tasks, it’s possible you’re going through what’s commonly called “post-vacation syndrome.” It happens because you have to switch from relaxation to working on a pile of tasks and new projects when you return to work. It’s entirely normal for anyone to experience stress after an enjoyable holiday.
2. Lack of sleep.
You likely had a busy vacation schedule, maybe even staying up late for drinks or late-night snacks. You might even choose early-morning and late-night flights to make the most of your vacation time, which means only a few hours of sleep before returning to work. This lack of rest can leave you feeling more exhausted and easily irritated than usual.
3. Reading emails while on vacation.
It’s common for employees, especially those in leadership roles with teams reporting directly to you, to check their emails even when they’re on vacation, like at the beach. But if you don’t give yourself time to enjoy and relax, it can leave you mentally exhausted by the end of your vacation, making it feel like you didn’t have a break.
Ways to Ease Yourself Back into Your Work Routine
Here are some helpful tips on changing your mindset and preparing yourself to handle the post-holiday blues when returning to work after your vacation.
1. Catch up with your team.
Reconnect with your key team members to discuss any overlooked matters that might not have been addressed in messages. It also provides an opportunity to assess whether the priorities for any action items have shifted. For instance, a quick catch-up either through a conversation or virtual platforms might reveal that a previously urgent issue has been resolved or is now less pressing than initially thought.
2. Set your goals for the week.
Before your vacation, you might have established both long-term and short-term work goals, such as meeting project deadlines, enhancing team collaboration, or completing specific tasks. When you get back to work, take a moment to revisit these goals and evaluate your progress and the likelihood of reaching them.
If you didn’t set any goals initially, think about identifying achievable goals and targets to strive for. Setting goals can enhance your drive to accomplish your tasks and responsibilities, which can be helpful since you might experience a lack of motivation and purpose when returning to work after a vacation.
3. Have “Me Time”.
Vacations are great for recharging, but returning to a pile of tasks can be overwhelming. The best way to address your to-do list is to start your day early, giving yourself some personal time.
You could wake up an hour earlier than your usual and spend some time stretching, praying, meditating, and having your morning tea to prepare yourself for the day. Starting your day early, before everything gets busy, can help you catch up and prepare for the day ahead.
4. Sort your inbox.
Returning to the office after a break, the workload you’ll find in the queue can feel like an avalanche. When you open your inbox and see hundreds of emails, it can be intimidating, but going through them and organizing your inbox is a vital step in resuming work effectively.
There are different ways to manage a high volume of emails. You could categorize them by date, type of inbox, or email size. A helpful method could involve organizing emails by the sender, making it easier to identify urgent messages first.
5. Create a to-do list.
When you return to work, you often have many tasks waiting for you. Making a to-do list can be very beneficial. It provides a clear view of your tasks, enabling you to identify priorities and organize your work effectively.
After a vacation, coming back to work with a long list of things to do can be exhausting. Your to-do list can help you organize your work, so you can decide which ones are most important and tackle them one step at a time. It also shows how much work you need to do, so you don’t feel stressed and can approach your tasks calmly.
6. Handle tasks in batches.
Planning ahead is essential. Try to get back home a few days before you have to return to work. This gives you time to settle in and recover from post-vacation blues.
Once you get back to work, you can group similar tasks together. For instance, you can spend one to two hours on personal emails, switch to meetings, and then focus on work-related emails. Concentrating on one task at a time, without frequently switching between different types of tasks, can make you more efficient and less stressed.
7. Cultivate a healthy mindset.
If you’re feeling down and uninspired about returning to work, you can focus on thinking healthy and positive thoughts. Think about the good things about going back to work and consider writing it down. Work itself might have benefits, like spending time with your coworkers or accomplishing tasks that give you satisfaction and joy.
Taking even small steps to care for your mental health can help you build resilience, improve work performance, and give you the skills you need to deal with uncertainties and challenges at work.
8. Take your time.
Don’t try to do everything at once when you’re back at work. Instead, focus on the most critical aspects of your day. Don’t overlook self-care activities, such as your morning workout or having your favorite snack while working.
Incorporate some time for relaxation as you come home. For example, you could set aside the second half of Sunday, or whatever day you return, to unwind and gradually ease back into your work routine. Remember, we’re all humans, and we all go through this. Just find what works for you and stick with it.
Let Your Vacation Fulfill Its True Purpose: A Break
Returning to work after a long, enjoyable vacation might feel challenging, but it doesn’t have to be unbearable. With some preparation and a game plan, you can maintain your peace of mind and get into the groove of things in no time.
Following these tips and easing yourself into your regular routine can make the transition smoother and more manageable. Remember to prioritize self-care, stay connected with your colleagues, and gradually reintroduce the positive aspects of your holiday routine.
With a bit of planning and a positive mindset, you can conquer those post-holiday blues and get back to your productive self.
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1. Nationwide Holiday Mental Health Poll Reveals Americans Are Worried About Contracting COVID, Missing. www.psychiatry.org/news-room/news-releases/nationwide-holiday-mental-health-poll-reveals-amer.