Imagine Health

January Blues – Beating the Back to Work Blues

A lot of us are familiar with that “Sunday night fear” where we dread the prospects of returning to work. This feeling may be all too real, especially now, after the Christmas period. No one particularly enjoys getting back to normality after a fun-filled break, but alas we all must do it. Below are some top tips to help you get through the “back to work blues” and get January off to a productive start!

Don’t Dwell

Thoughts of returning to routine can creep in as early as a week before your actual “return to work” date. This can often lead to negative thoughts and feelings of low mood associated to work (even when you quite enjoy your job!). The best way to combat this is to not dwell on the thought of returning. Accept that you must return. Don’t let the negative thoughts of returning to work impact negatively on the fun activities you can enjoy during your remaining time off. Say to yourself “I will think about that later” and make a conscious effort to focus and enjoy the present and not ruminate about the future.

Prepare Well

One proactive way to beat the “back to work blues” is by preparing yourself well. If you bring a packed lunch, make it the night before. Make sure that you have everything you need for the office, make sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour and rest well for the week ahead. Check your diary to see if you have any meetings scheduled. Another way to prepare for back to work is to prepare mentally. Think about your working style and habits… is there somethings you can change, adapt, get rid of? What can help you work more productively and feel better about the work you do?

When you arrive in work, instead of diving head first into the copious amounts of emails you may have received over the break. Keep your “out of office” reply on your emails for a few more hours. Take this extra time will help you orientate yourself to the working environment and help you plan what tasks need to be completed, rather than getting bogged down in replying to multiple emails for hours at a time.

Be Positive and Present

When returning to work, it’s important to start as you mean to go on. One effective way of achieving this is by staying positive, but most importantly, staying present. Keeping present and mindful in the current moment will help you release any worries or anxieties about tasks, jobs or even workplace relation issues that may occur in the future. It can also help you to appreciate your role and express gratitude throughout the day.

Reward Yourself

After you have completed all this and managed to get back into routine, it’s important to reward yourself. Perhaps go for a meal or to the cinema over the weekend as a way of easing yourself into the working routine. Some people even like to book their next holiday or trip away as soon as they come back from the most recent break, as it gives them sometime to look forward to!

The most important piece of advice from all of this is to remember that these “blues” won’t last forever. They will pass. These feelings are natural for everyone. When you take it day by day, or even hour by hour it will feel less daunting. You are in control of this situation and you will often find that the thoughts of returning to work are worse than the act of returning!


Written by Nicola Keane

Assistant Psychologist