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How to calm back-to-work nerves after a summer break

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You had an amazing break – but will returning to work undo it all?

Dreading going back to work after your holiday?

A summer break can be just the stress-relief we need – but if back-to-work dread sets in at the end of it, it can feel like all the benefits quickly become undone.

“There is no ‘easing back in’. There’s no one to help you settle back and, in many ways, there might be a rush to demand your time, because you’ve been out of contact for the last week or longer,” says Dr Audrey Tang, therapist and author of The Leader’s Guide to Mindfulness. “It is no wonder that you might feel a sense of needing to steel yourself.”

So, what can we do to prolong the post-holiday calm and make the return to work less stressful?

Create a lasting positive routine

Think about why you felt less stressed on holiday. Are there elements of your holiday routine you could carry through to everyday life? “There is no harm in maintaining what is already in place and working for you,” says Tang. “If you got into a holiday routine, then try to fit it around the working day prior to returning to work.”

Obviously, long lie-ins and lunchtime cocktails by the pool probably aren’t realistic. But perhaps things like having a tasty breakfast every morning, enjoying your coffee outside, spending more time in water – what things could you implement into your ‘regular life’ to help cut out anxiety and stress?

Set boundaries

It might feel like you’re returning to a billion emails and an overflowing to-do list. But do you actually need to put some healthier boundaries in place?

“You don’t have to fix everything – and if you do, you might be depriving someone of the empowerment and growth to do it themselves,” says Tang. “Ask yourself before taking something on: is this really my responsibility?

“If it is within your power, you can signpost them [to someone else], and be there should they need a cheerleader, but solving their problems stops you from working on your own, and can teach them to be dependent on you.”

Prepare the night before

Tang suggests sparing yourself the first-day-back panic by getting everything ready the night before.

“Prepare for the next day – whether that’s getting your work clothes out, making your lunch and so on – do whatever it is you need to do so that you start your morning off well, or if you need to hit the snooze button a couple more times, you’re already organised,” she says. “Consider doing this a couple of hours before bed.”

Do not ‘check in’ early

This does not mean checking your emails, however, or giving yourself a head-start on catching up.

“Resist the temptation to ‘check-in’ with the office – if something has waited this long, it will likely wait another 12 hours,” says Tang. “If you aren’t going to be able to do anything about it until you get in, then why waste time and energy worrying about it?”

Remind yourself how important a break is

Finally, you needed a break for a reason – so if you find yourself resenting the time away from work, remind yourself how important that is.“When you break from routine, the brain is stimulated by the new environment, and both curiosity and anticipation can give us a boost,” says Tang.

“Not only will a change of scenery do you good, but a change in atmosphere can work wonders for us biophilic humans. Sunlight will stimulate vitamin D and serotonin,” she explains. Plus, despite a touch of back-to-work anxiety, this could be an opportunity to reset.

Tang adds: “It’s too easy to stick with old habits when we’re in our ‘same old’ environment. Going somewhere new may give you the motivation to try those activities that you have always thought about.”

Back to work after your holiday. Are you thinking about a new environment and new step in your career? QTC Recruitment can help you finding that new opportunity which will give you energy to get back to work after a well-deserved vacation. Check out our open vacancies here.

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