For a healthy mind, body and business

How to keep the back to work blues at bay

Santorini Greece
Jimmy Teoh, Pexels

If you’ve been away for a holiday, getting back to work can feel as if you’re being wrenched out of one routine and firmly planted back into another, more arduous one. Back to work blues are a reality for 78% of people, according to a study by Reed.

Not surprising when you think about how we are replacing laid-back days and relaxation for deadlines, demands, meetings and management. With enough annual leave and flexibility, we can mitigate the back to work blues in some way with a gentle easing-back routine.

You can book in the next holiday so you have something to look forward to, you can start checking emails the day before. However, if returning to work can cause so much stress, what should we be changing about how we approach our working lives?

We can look at what is wrong with our jobs, but why not look at what is right about the holiday?

Keeping a holiday routine

Often, that week or two-week block of holiday is a complete gear change from our day-to-day working life. We are in one extreme mode or another. Go go go or rest and relax. How can we create more balance by incorporating the elements of a holiday that leave us feeling more refreshed?

Why do we feel that looking after ourselves is reserved for a one-off holiday period?

What can we learn from our holidays that can help us keep back to work blues from rearing their head?

Sleep hygiene

On holiday, we generally sleep well. We are rested, we are not checking emails at 10 pm, we have been outdoors a bit more, and our bodies are relaxing. This all leads to better quality sleep. Apart from perhaps a few late nights, we are prioritising sleep and not setting an alarm to rouse us into action before dawn.

Sleep can be one of the best investments for your long-term health and of course, your performance. Getting into a healthy sleep routine and improving our sleep hygiene during the working week can help you feel happier and more capable of handling work demands.

Eating well

We have time. It is not a case of grabbing a bag of crisps for lunch or slowly working our way through a packet of biscuits at the desk. While we may overindulge in some cases, we are generally sitting down together, taking our time over our food, and savouring the experience.

Working from home gives us an excellent opportunity to carve out time for a proper lunch break. It allows us to prepare nutritious food from our own kitchen, to sit and enjoy it, letting our food digest.

Perhaps there was a favourite meal you had on holiday or it became a family tradition to have bacon sandwiches on the beach. What small holiday rituals can you keep once normal life resumes, that may help ease the back to work blues?

man on holiday jumping with inflatable into the ocean
Vincent Gerbouin, Pexels


It goes without saying that we tend to associate holidays with relaxation. The importance of rest is not to be underestimated. Our brains and bodies need to switch off to prevent burnout. We pause, disconnect, and our stress levels decrease. A study by Loughborough University showed how our cortisol levels rise when checking or sending emails.

We need to look at how we can incorporate more relaxation or disconnected time into our working day. While the demands of work won’t disappear, we can regulate how we feel and how we allow our stress levels to build. We can try walks outside, screen breaks, deep breaths, talks with others, anything that helps to calm the nervous system.

We also tend to spend more time outdoors, which can improve our connection with nature, a proven way to

Quality family time.

Despite the odd family argument that can arise, holidays allow us to reconnect with ourselves and our families and friends. We tend to share experiences with them, create memories, and tell stories.

Connection is one of the components of a happier life. According to the NHS: ‘People with healthy, positive and supportive relationships are more likely to be happier and healthier.’

Good for our wellbeing, good for the soul.

New experiences

Shared or otherwise, holidays are often a time for travel, exploration, and taking the time to discover new things. Whether it’s a new dish at a local restaurant, taking a different route to a destination, or taking a surf lesson, new experiences have benefits for our wellbeing.

You might pick up a book you wouldn’t normally read, or feel you have the capacity to challenge yourself to try something new. New experiences can leave us feeling accomplished, giving us a great sense of satisfaction. They open our minds to possibilities, they expand our knowledge and help us to grow in confidence.

How can you keep learning and developing outside of the holidays? What new experiences can you have?

More simplicity

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to keep the positives from a holiday going is to look at simplifying our lives.

On holiday, many of the day to day friction points and trivial decision making are removed. We have packed a set amount of clothes, our wardrobes are limited. We don’t need to think too much about what we are going to wear or worry about how the day will unfold.

The routine we keep tends to be simpler. In general, we aren’t at the mercy of an urgent email or last-minute meeting request.

Simplifying back home might mean decluttering, purging the wardrobe, organising the desk, deleting unread emails, and clearing out the digital mess.

When life is simpler. You realise how little you need to exist and still be happy.

Check these out:

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About the author

Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of  The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.


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