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How to get over the holiday brood

Holidays don’t last forever and if the thought of returning to the office after a glorious vacation makes you the world’s No. 1 grouch, cheer up. Here’s how to ease back into work.

india Updated: May 29, 2012 16:23 IST
Aruna Rathod

If you were in the Alps and didn’t care where your next meal came from (because it was all included in the itinerary) and got up in a leisurely manner every single day of your holiday, then getting back to the daily grind is definitely the last thing you want to do.

And yet, holidays don’t last forever, so back you must go. That’s the trouble with vacations. They lead to a disconnect with your regular life. But (sigh), this is life and work is life (for most of us) and we all have to deal with it at least once a year. So we’re resigned to it, but… for the first day, colleagues had better keep out of our way. Because we snap a lot.

“When we go on a vacation there is no routine or structure,” says clinical psychologist Saloni Sawnani. “So it’s fun and exciting. But it means that getting back to routine is boring. This creates a feeling of dread.”

Getting back to work involves two things. It means your long-dreamed-of holiday is over. And it means catching up with everything you’ve missed at work as well as getting back to your regular responsibilities. That’s a double whammy.

This is what’s responsible for our sense of depression at the thought of resuming work. We know we’ll settle down in a few days, but the first day feels like hell. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. We’ve got some advice from people who’ve learned how to trash the post-vacation blues.

“The moment I get back to work after a vacation, I plan a weekend break,” says Mithu Basu, founder of Dolna – The Movement, an art movement. “Whether it happens or not, looking forward to it keeps me pepped. This is the best way to beat the back-to-work blues.”

Keeping the holiday spiritalive may be just as effective. Remember, your colleagues are the people you spend most of your time with. So it actually feels quite good chatting with them. And when you’ve just returned from a holiday, you have so much to talk about and so many pictures to share.

And you could also return to the age-old practice of bringing back goodies for your colleagues. “When I visit my hometown, I always bring back specialties like sandesh and rossogollas for everyone at work,” says Ruchira Ganguly, a programmer who visits Kolkata every year. “This means my first day back at work is fun.”

Depressed womanIf what’s making you low is the thought of the double whammy of catching up with what you’ve missed, plus plunging back into your daily job, try this. "I always get back to work on a Friday, not a Monday," says Pradeep Goswami, a marketing executive. "It helps me get back into the routine knowing that the weekend starts the next day. So I spend Friday catching up, then I have two days off, and by Monday, I’m fully settled in."

The problem with most of us is that we eke our holidays out. So we screech back into the city after a glorious vacation at 11 on Sunday night and expect to be fully adjusted to the day-to-day routine by 7 on Monday morning. No wonder we’re grumpy!
“I make it a point to return from my holiday at least three days before I resume work,” says Smita Khedekar, a hospitality executive and mother of two school-going children. “This way I am mentally and physically prepared to get back to the office as the backlog at home has been cleared.”

returning to the city one day before you have to go back to work is good enough to prepare yourself, says Pallavi Krishnan, a cost accountant. “Though I find a break refreshing, I also feel a sense of anxiety about what has happened at work when I was away – were there any changes that would affect me and how to deal with the piled up work. I believe one must fight back and get back into the routine instead of getting derailed,” she says.

And though it doesn’t seem like a good thing (your companions will complain), technology is a good way to keep in touch with what’s going on at work while you are away. Jayesh Shinde, an executive, says, “I keep in touch with my colleagues through emails or phone calls and messages. This way I am not totally disconnected and look forward to getting back.”

Make your holiday work for you

1.Get to the office early on the day you resume work. This way you can get into the routine easily and fill up on what’s been happening while you were away.

2.The best way to get back is to ease into your tasks gradually. Don’t try and do everything at once.

3.An ‘I’m coming back’ email to your manager before returning is a good way to get back into the mental space of work.

4.Plan your holiday well so it is refreshing and without stress. If you have truly enjoyed yourself, it’s easier to get back to work.

5.Make creative visualisation work for you. Think of the hills and beaches you could go to next time, when you feel stressed.

- From HT Brunch, June 26

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