How to beat the back-to-work blues

It’s Sunday night and Monday is looming. The start of a new working year is on the horizon. But wait, there’s your first mistake. It’s not a new working year. It’s just a new year. If you closed the door on last year feeling like work was all-consuming, chances are work will take over your life again unless you make changes. Take these for a start.

Go slow

Ask anyone what they enjoy most during holidays and sleep would be high up on the list. Staying up late, partying, drinking and eating more, sleeping in, lazing around – it’s no wonder we feel different when we squeeze our life back into the nine-to-five routine. The holiday blues are not just an emotional response, they’re a physical response too. So when you hit the “go” button at work for the new year, be kind to your body and mind by taking it slow. Make day one all about returning phone calls and emails, tidying your desk, ordering files and writing a to-do list for your first few days. Then work up to a steady pace that doesn’t put you through the stress ringer before January is out.

Be healthy

Hang on to your relaxed state of mind for as long as you can by maintaining a strong focus on your health. Start by eating a nutritious breakfast – not on the run. Drink lots of water throughout the day to combat dehydration – not four coffees before 11am. Try to exercise as much as you can to keep your energy levels high and weight in check.

Focus on a new project

Give yourself something to think about beyond the daily grind, like joining a new professional association, putting your hand up for a project at work you wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in or shadow someone from a different department in which you’d like to work. If not at work, schedule in that new dance, art or cooking class you’ve been meaning to do for months. The time is now.

Work smart

One of the major complaints workers have is that they spend way too much time in the office and not enough at home. So start off your new year by trying to be more efficient at work. Look at ways to be more productive with your tasks. Are there any double-ups occurring in duties, not just within your own workload but within your team? Are you doing someone else’s work for them? Can you delegate? If not, perhaps you need to communicate with management that you need more resources. And if you can’t delegate at work, delegate at home or within your personal life to make the load a little lighter. The main goal is to reduce your stress so your health is not compromised.

Plan your next holiday

Sounds premature, but everyone knows how much rosier the world looks when you have a holiday to look forward to. If booking your next break is not possible, start researching your favourite destinations – make your after-dinner treat a virtual trip to Fiji, Hawaii or Paris.

Worst case? Find a new job

If you dislike work so much that it’s causing anxiety or depression, find a new job. Whether it’s the people, the culture or the role, there’s a chance it may be the job itself that’s giving you the blues. Step up and take action. There’s a vibrant job market out there just waiting for you to jump in and plot your next move.

If you'd like advice on your career and job opportunities in your field, contact your local Robert Half office.

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