At the beginning of our family holidays, there is a tradition in our home called the ‘I’m on holidays’ dance. Picture now either a silly daddy dance or the Warrens doing a conga dance while chanting that phrase through our kitchen.
However, the return to normal routines can evoke less-celebratory feelings. These feelings are normal as there is often a sense of loss that goes with leaving behind the holiday sleep-ins, card games and treats.
So, how can we ease the pain and regain our positive energy for being at work?
- Break the return to work into smaller steps: Some people ease the transition back to work by clearing or responding to emails at a designated time during their holidays. Others get their clothes ready the night before.
Once back, some people scale their effort up slowly. Others, who are overwhelmed by the work that is waiting for them, either adjust their expectations of themselves, breaking their workload into manageable chunks, perhaps focusing on one task at a time. And they are ruthless with how they use their time, perhaps scanning over or deleting unwanted emails.
- Have a helpful mindset: Our attitude has a direct influence on our emotions and also on the choices we make. We do not need to create an artificially happy mindset if we have mixed feelings about going back to work. But we do need a mindset that is helpful.
Examples of such mindsets are simply professionalism, acting in certain ways irrespective of how we are feeling. Or it could be a ‘let’s get it done’ mindset, a willingness to take action about stressors at work. I personally like the attitude that each day we will make one person laugh or feel good about themselves. Or to be grateful – that we are alive, hopefully healthy, have work to go to, and for those parts of our work we find satisfying.
Another tradition we have in our family is to ask each other what the highlights were for each other’s day. It is our way of reminding ourselves that even during stressful days, there are still moments of joy, small things to be grateful for.
- Remembering why you are there: Having a strong sense of purpose as to why you do the work you do can certainly help to keep the challenge of returning to work in perspective. We have to find a purpose that resonates with us. A meaningful purpose can’t be just going to work to provide income for our family.
People who work in schools know they are there to help children to be happy at school and become their very best. Health and aged care workers know their work is all about quality living for their clients. Admin and other staff know they need to give colleagues and clients a great experience of them personally and also of their workplace.
- Foster healthy habits: Those of us who have indulged too much over the holidays are well aware of the need to improve our health. Professor Gary Wittert, a specialist on long-term research on appetite, diet and lifestyle factors from the University of Adelaide says, however, that instead of focusing on weight loss, our health, wellbeing and longevity is better served by cultivating healthy habits.
What are these habits? Professor Wittert says the long-term research says they are regular cardio-vascular exercise, a diet rich in vegetables and fruit, moderate alcohol intake, avoiding or quitting smoking, good quality sleep, eating at regular times during daylight hours, and reducing stress.
While such healthy habits do not eliminate all of the stress in our work, they certainly put us in a better position to perform well and respond to the challenges.
- Give yourself something to look forward to: Dare I suggest that the first thing we all need to do at the end of our holidays is to plan the next one. We certainly need something to look forward and down time that gives our mind and body a chance to recharge. I am often horrified when I hear people say they have gone 3 to 4 years without a break. But we don’t have to wait until our next holiday. Perhaps you can give yourself something to look forward to this evening or over the coming weekend. For our family, it is often simple things like walking and bike riding.
I do hope the above has affirmed you with a few things you are doing well or reminded you of actions you need to take. We all need to bring our best self to work. And there are always actions we can take at home and work to help.
Quote of the week
“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”
– Helen Keller