You finally took a break from work and went on a well-deserved vacation. Days or weeks of relaxation, foreign foods, and a comfy hotel bed have you wishing that it would never end. But, going back to work is inevitable. That thought alone makes your stomach churn.
No one wants to think about emails, deadlines, and managing finances or meetings after an amazing holiday. I know I don’t. However, it can’t be avoided, especially if you want to survive your first days back without having a mental burnout. That’s why I’ve created a list of tips that’ll make your transition back to work a little smoother.
1. Don’t go back to work right after your vacation’s over.
Everyone needs some time to get back into the groove of things. If you can, take a day or two to relax and recuperate before heading back into the office. Even if you need to tidy-up around the house or run errands, give yourself at least a few hours to chill.
I like to order-in or go for ice cream the day after I’ve come back from a long break. I’m having a treat while still slowly getting back into a groove. Focus on giving your mind time to adjust. If you don’t, you’ll have stress on top of fatigue to deal with when you return to work.
2. Ease your way back into work.
Either the day before returning to work or the morning of returning to work, take some time to plan out your day. Make a to-do list with everything you know you need to do and prioritize what needs to be done. If you do this on the morning of your return, be sure to give yourself space to be alone with your thoughts.
Start with old tasks that you didn’t finish before you went on vacation. It’ll give you a sense of normality. You might be tempted to jump straight into new projects, but you’re going to crash and burn before lunch.
Focus on doing what you know how to do and what requires the least amount of time. Starting with small tasks can boost your confidence. Remember, you’re taking one step at a time.
3. Bring a little piece of your vacation home with you.
Souvenirs are great personal mementos that can remind you that it’s okay to take a break and enjoy life. Recovering from fatigue can be as simple as reminiscing. In her book, “The Myths of Happiness“, UC Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky has found that reminiscing about a trip brings you immense pleasure.
It can be especially helpful if you can incorporate the senses such as smell. I personally like using diffusers with oils from different parts of the world. This allows all of your positive feelings about it to flow back into you. You can then transform that into energy to get you through your day.
4. Interact with others, even if you don’t want to.
Some co-workers may approach you and ask about your vacation. It’s okay to talk about it. The details about how you couldn’t finish your hiking expedition because you realized halfway through that you don’t actually like long trips in the forest will fill everyone with joy and laughter.
You don’t have to hold back in fear of seeming like you’re bragging.
If you’re worried that’s what people will think, start asking them questions about their next vacation or a previous vacation that they reminisce about. You’ll be surprised how much people love talking about their past trips too. Conversations like these help you form bonds with your coworkers that will aid in getting back to business.
5. Go to work with a new set of eyes.
I had to come up with a strategy of how to approach a new client about a possible collaboration. Stumped, I decided to wait to connect until after I was done with my vacation. Good thing I did. While I was in a queue for a sandwich (of all places), I got an idea about what I should present that would still be unique and engaging for them.
Maybe you were frustrated with a task before you went on vacation because you couldn’t make it work. After being away from it for a while, you can look at it differently and offer a new perspective. Sometimes you just need time away to get a little jumpstart on your work.
6. Take breaks during the day.
Going into full work-mode without any breaks is a recipe for a burnout. Don’t let guilt force you into believing that you have to work yourself into the ground because you were away. At one time, your co-workers also went on vacation. They don’t (and shouldn’t) expect you to break your back trying to catch up in one day.
Be kind to yourself and remember that you deserved your vacation and the time it takes to recover from it. Take about a five or ten-minute break every three hours to decompress and relax. It may seem impossible, but you’ll make it through. Focus on one thing at a time.