Watercooler Friday: 5 tips to minimise post-vacation anxiety at work – ETHRWorldME

The prospect of being on vacation is awaited by many professionals. The idea behind taking time off of work is to unwind, rejuvenate and calm the senses. However, the feeling of leisure and relaxation doesn’t last long as the vacation nears its end. The transition from a holiday destination to an office desk can be jarring, and returning to work after a vacation or extended time off may not be as smooth as anticipated, as people usually encounter a pile of tasks, emails and messages waiting for them at work.

Professionals experience nostalgia, pressure, emotional discomfort, and a spike in anxiety thinking about the demands of the workplace post their return. As per a survey by Zappier/The Harris Poll, an overwhelming 87% of knowledge workers are overwhelmed about returning to work after taking time off. Here are the top reasons for the post-vacation blues:

  • Back into a routine – 37%
  • Overwhelmed with busy work – 27%
  • Post-vacation blues – 27%
  • Piles of unread emails/messages – 26%
  • Overwhelmed by a busy schedule – 25%
  • Out of the loop on tasks – 23%

Despite vacations being a gateway to freedom and rejuvenation, professionals tag them as a source of stress and anxiety. A different survey by HuffPost states that taking time off brought workers anxiety, even though the paid vacation was a benefit they’d earned. It can be called the bigger version of Sunday scaries, which also brings feelings of anxiety that occur the day before getting back to work(and it is experienced by a whopping 80% of professionals, according to LinkedIn)!However, the first day or week back to work doesn’t have to be brimming with stress and anxiety. Here are a few practical ideas to help you minimise pressure, manage the process and make the transition smoother.

Pre-planning always helps
Before taking up a PTO, professionals can try to wrap up as many loose ends as possible. A few activities like task delegation, setting up automated email responses and communicating your absence to your team can always streamline tasks according to their urgency even during your absence and help to minimise the number of urgent matters awaiting their return.

Not everything can be done in a day
It is very important for workers to set realistic goals for themselves. Try to catch up on everything gradually and as per their urgency level. Compartmentalising goals can help them accomplish tasks quickly, which will prevent them from getting overwhelmed and relieve stress significantly.

Always beneficial to check in a little early
Early check-in to emails and messages a day or two before the official return can help significantly with the stress. Professionals can make to-do lists based on their task requirements. This can give them a sense of what to expect and help them mentally prepare for their first day back.

Time block and time off
Blocking time for specific tasks and taking short breaks work in unison to relieve post-vacation stress. Time-blocking can significantly help with the structuring of the day. Try allocating specific time slots for different tasks, including catching up on emails, meetings, and focused work. This will help professionals to gain control over their day and silos of tasks.

Communication and Mindfulness
Communication and mindfulness are the two keys to a calm and focused mind at work. If the feeling of stress persists, communicating the same with the team members can always help. And while readjusting, practising mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing, walking and meditation, can help reduce stress and anxiety and bring back the focus.>

  • Published On Aug 11, 2023 at 10:40 AM IST

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