Imagine total relaxation on vacation, miles away from the demands of work. Then imagine the dreaded first day back at the office. Cue the funk. Post-vacation feelings of stress, sadness and sometimes even anger and depression creep up. It was a free fall while you were on vacation but now it’s back to the daily grind of rush hour and deadlines. No wonder you feel it’s all gone too quickly.

Focus on the following to start afresh after your vacation.

From reminiscing about your vacation adventures to planning your next getaway, from eating right to exercising and beyond, there are plenty of smart, simple steps you can take to beat the back-to-work blues.

Take it easy
To help make the transition from vacation to work, pace yourself for the first two days. Return calls, get up to speed with what has happened and ensure you go straight home to rest. “One of the reasons why some of us can get in a funk is because we return to work full bore — it’s the same syndrome as getting a cold or flu in the first week of your vacation,” says Dr Meredith Fuller, a Melbourne-based psychologist. Make sure colleagues and clients don’t bombard you, and allow yourself little breaks such as walking around the block or sitting outside to have your coffee in peace.

Remember to be positive
Count your blessings and thank your stars for the refreshing break. Don’t think of work as a burden but a time to make a fresh start. Wear brighter colours and pop your favourite vacation picture onto your screen saver.

Let the creative juices flow
When we are in a relaxed and alert state — after a rejuvenating vacation — our creative juices flow well. “Resist the temptation to flop back into your usual chair in your usual posture,” adds Fuller. “Brainstorm, lie outside on the grass, or borrow someone else’s office and reflect on your work.” What could you do differently? How could you incorporate any aha moments from your time away? Do a mind-map, and impress everyone with your enthusiasm.

Blues are temporary
Remember that after a week, you will be over the sulks, and ready to engross yourself in your work life again. Be easy on yourself for the first week back — watch a movie, go for a massage, sleep longer or plan your next vacation — whatever makes you happy.

Focus on a new project
Perhaps you simply need a fun activity one night a week to keep your mind engaged, and your body healthy. Try dancing, fencing or something wild. It may be work related — perhaps you could join a new professional association, volunteer for a task force, or shadow someone from another department? “Keeping active is the key to feeling alive. You don’t have to go on vacation for that,” Fuller says.

Don’t make any drastic decisions
Fuller advises against making any major decisions right after a break. “Don’t resign and don’t dump your girlfriend,” she says. Your judgment could be clouded by the haze of vacation. If you’re unhappy coming back to work, examine if it’s because you’re no longer on vacation or is it really your work. If you feel nothing’s improving even after a month or so, then that’s your clue to rethink your job or even your career.

Put your health first
Getting back to work and into healthy patterns can be a challenge. “Start your first week back with healthy breakfasts, drink plenty of water and avoid too much tea and coffee,” says Natasha Meerding, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia. She also advises that we should incorporate some physical activity the moment we are back. Being physically active can help with alertness, improve mood and prevent weight gain.

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