Avoid Your Return To Work Dread in 9 Easy Steps
Posted on January 03, 2023 by Kate Bishop, One of Thousands of Career Coaches on Noomii.
Anxious about returning to work after the holidays? Worried about your inbox mountain? Dreading that first meeting? Read on to survive & thrive
And we are back folks! Perhaps some of us returned last week, for many of us we may never have stopped working over the Christmas period – now go and rest!
For the rest of us, chances are we are back to work in some form this week and for many people that can induce dread, anxiety and stress as we return to unfinished tasks, overdue projects and a bulging inbox.
I used to have sleepless nights before retuning to work after any holiday – so much so I stopped taking holiday days or worked when I was off. Not ideal and definitely not recommended for obvious mental wellbeing reasons.
How can we avoid the sinking dread of returning to work?
Firstly, it’s key to identify what exactly is causing you to feel this way. It could be a variety of reasons, such as:
- Interacting with certain colleagues you find difficult.
- An overdue deadline and annoyed client / manager.
- An overwhelming amount of unanswered emails.
- Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work which awaits you.
And the list goes on.
Once you have clarity on what is causing you to feel the dread of returning to work, you can then take suitable actions to tackle it. Now this may be a future action to block time in to plan accordingly before you go on holiday or take a break – if so – add that into your calendar now along with mental health or rest days throughout the year.
But what if this advice is a bit too late? What can you do now?
1. If you can bear to – check your calendar the day before you return to work so you have an idea of what awaits you.
2. Try as much as possible to keep your first day or even week back free from many meetings so that you can get your head back in the game.
3. You will want to schedule in a meeting with your manager and with your direct reports so that everyone is aware of what needs to be focused on.
4. Which brings me to my next piece of avoid-return-to-work-dread advice – start 30 minutes earlier on your first day back to properly & fully plan your first day and week. Get clear on what is a priority, what can wait and what can, quite frankly, be ditched.
5. Once you have identified your priorities then block out time to do them so that you are not interrupted by meetings being booked in and so that you are clear how long each task needs.
6. It’s important to note here that you will need to pace yourself as you return to the working routine. Don’t go full throttle on day one otherwise you will be limping towards the end of the week and feeling dread all over again.
7. Talking of routines, the start of a new year is a fantastic opportunity to establish a healthy working routine so that you are sticking to start and finish times, not checking emails out of hours and ensuring that you take your breaks. This all adds up to making work more bearable, if not fun.
8. Add onto this your own morning and evening routines or habits with what you need to keep you emotionally well such as exercise, stretching, time in nature or just some uninterrupted quiet time and you will soon begin to feel better about life as well as work.
9. Finally, think about how you can make work fun. This could be catching up with colleagues you haven’t had a proper chat with for a while or sharing Christmas stories. Or get a strong playlist ready to give you a kick of motivation. Get out of your loungewear and wear something that puts you in the mood for work. Decorate your working environment with things that will cheer you up. Reward yourself at the end of each day once you have assessed all that you have accomplished.
If you find that you are waking every Monday morning from a fitful night’s sleep and still dreading going to work, then, it’s time we have a talk to see what career you should be pursuing to feel better about work.