Back to Work Blues: 5 tips to beat it

Alarm clock blaring and you’re jolted awake, dreams of warm sand below your feet and cool ice-cream in your hand melts away.

Another restless night’s sleep in the summer heat, but it’s okay because you get to spend the day lounging, swimming at your local Wollongong beach, or doing some other summer holiday related activity. Strange that your alarm went off though?

Then reality hits – Christmas is over, sleep ins, barbeques, and binging on Netflix in your comfy pants are no more. You’re back to work.

The prospect of a day (even a full week – the horror) is too much and every part of your body tells you to dive back under the covers and hide. But then again; bills, responsibility. Eh.

What can you do to make this aversive transition easier?

  1. Set yourself goals – a sales target, a new client, a new work friend, leaving work on time or not checking emails after hours. By making your goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and realistic, and time bound) you will increase your motivation, improve communication, coordination, and clarity, making it more likely that you will reach your goals (O’Neill & Conzemius, 2006). Don’t forget to give yourself a reward when you succeed!
  2. Plan your next holiday, break or fun leisure activity – whether it’s a movie night, a picnic dinner by the beach, a weekend brunch, a weekend away or your next jet setting trip across the globe, organise something to look forward to. Research has shown a link between hopelessness and depression (Seligman, 1975; Hankin, Abramson & Silver, 2001; Liu & Alloy, 2010), thus the sense of excitement and hope created by planning future positive experiences may help alleviate feelings of low mood.
  3. Reflect on what it is that you enjoy about your job or profession and focus on these, especially on the days that are particularly difficult. Positive affect fosters intrinsic motivation and increases performance and enjoyment of work related tasks (Isen & Reeve, 2006).
  4. Get organised! Tidy up your calendar, work space, set up your appointments and meetings so you know what’s coming in the next few weeks, write a to do list and prioritise.
  5. Cut yourself a break – be kind to yourself, it’s okay to feel a bit off going back to work. Self-compassion protects against the negative consequences of self-judgment, isolation, rumination and depression and maintains self esteem (Neff, 2002).

If, however, these blues are starting to get you down or are affecting aspects of your life, it might be helpful to speak to someone. To book in to speak to one of our Wollongong or Woonona based psychologists, call 0411 542 624.

If you need urgent assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.