5 steps to minimise stress when getting back from holiday

Prepare properly, take an extra day, schedule your first day back well…

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Once upon a time many years ago, when I was young and foolish and working early shift, I had a week’s holiday. The day before I started back at work, I went drinking all day in Reading (a rugby match, Newcastle won, I got a bit excited). It didn’t make for an easy first day back.

I don’t think you’re going to make things this difficult for yourself. But often, when we get back from holiday, we have to dive straight back into work while also reorienting ourselves, and catching up on stuff lingering from while we’ve been away.

So how are you going to make sure this doesn’t happen to you?

(I’m assuming you’ve still got your summer holiday to come)

Prepare properly at work before you go

“I’m going on holiday tomorrow, I’ll leave this for when I get back”.

Bad move. You’ll still not want to do this task when you return, plus you’ll have lots more things to do, your normal work plus the things that others have left for you to pick up on your return. This all makes for high stress.

Delegation before you go away is important too, so others can pick up the slack and there’ll be less hanging over for you to do when you get back to the office.

Prepare properly at home before you go

Tidy the house. Fill the car up. Get bills paid. Renew your train ticket in advance if it expires while you’re away. If you have kids, make sure their homework is done before you go!

As with the office, don’t say “I’ll just do it when I get back.”

Schedule catch-up meetings

Spend your first morning back in the office, or as much of it as you can, in meetings to catch up with your boss and/or staff. This is a good way to ease back in. Even ring a client to chat about how the account’s going. Just don’t dive straight back into stressful work if you can help it.

Just try not to schedule anything too important for your first day back – renewal meeting for a global contract, for example! That will make it a stressful day but also stop you relaxing on holiday.

Have an extra day off

Returning from a two-week holiday on a Sunday, and then having to go back to work on the Monday, is a recipe for stress. Either get back on the Friday or Saturday, or take the Monday off, so you can have a buffer and get the washing done, then have some chill at home. You could be on a high from your holiday, then work can be a big crash. Or maybe you’ve only eaten restaurant food for two weeks – this can leave you sluggish. An extra day off at home will help with this.

Don’t lose the holiday spirit

Be sure to reflect on what you enjoyed about your holiday, and what a good break it was. Don’t just forget it straight away. If you can, arrange the next one too – a friend of mine is in Lanzarote right now, and wrote on Facebook: “Goal for this holiday: don’t get home without having the next one already booked!”

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