The holiday season is over and after two weeks of vacation, your days of lounging on the beach and endlessly seeking Instagram-worthy food are now behind you.
Now, you need to get back to work and hustle. There are deadlines to meet and new business proposals to ideate and craft. After several days of not checking your inbox (as you had promised yourself not to during your vacation), your head starts to hurt when you find out you have more than 1,000 unread emails waiting for your reply. The anxiety about going back to work after vacation can be a very real feeling.
Vacations are great, but the feeling of dread coming back to work is a stressful aftermath. You might face difficulties jumping straight back to replying to emails and attending meetings. While sitting at your desk, you may even zone out and feel lethargic, absolutely unable to concentrate on your work.
why do i feel tired after a vacation?
We would usually think that after spending holidays with our family and being disconnected from work will make us feel rejuvenated. But for some of us, we may feel even more tired after coming back from a vacation. Here are some reasons to explain why you’re feeling this way.
1. post vacation syndrome
If you find yourself feeling constantly depressed, anxious and overwhelmed after coming back home, then you're probably experiencing ‘post vacation syndrome’ or ‘post holiday syndrome’.
Reality hits hard when we have to switch from relaxing to working on all the backlogs and new projects the moment we get back to work. So it’s completely natural for anyone to feel stressed after a fun holiday.
Most of the time, post vacation syndrome lasts for just a couple of days. However, some people may experience it for longer as everyone has a different way of processing the change to adjust and get used to our daily work routine again.
2. sleep deprived after a holiday
Visiting a new country makes you feel alive and adventurous. You’ve probably planned a jam-packed itinerary to make the most of your vacation. There might even be some nights that you choose to stay up later than usual to visit a cocktail bar or to get a kebab. When you stay up for several nights, you could be sleep deprived and feel more tired than usual.
Most of us may also choose to take the first flight out and last flight back to maximise our vacation and leave days. However, arriving back home on the last flight usually means that you only have a few hours to sleep before you have to wake up for work the next day. That is why your first day back at work after the holiday is likely going to be particularly exhausting for you.
Because of that, you may not get enough rest to be ready for work. As a result, you will feel tired and irritable when you get back to your desk. You could feel worse if you’re returning home from a country that has more than a 6-hour time difference because your days and nights would be a blur.
3. checking emails during holidays
It is not uncommon for employees to reply to a few emails when they are lounging on the beach, especially if you work in a management position and have a team of colleagues reporting directly to you.
The Randstad Workmonitor survey found that 50% of respondents in Malaysia choose to handle work-related matters during the holidays as they prefer to stay involved or updated.
There are many reasons why people check their emails and messages while they are on vacation. You could be on hours-long train rides, waiting for the server to bring you your food or simply have a habit of checking your email every time your phone pings.
When you’re always-on, you’re more likely to respond to your colleagues’ emails. And we all know, it’s never just to reply to one email or message. Minutes turn into hours, and the next thing you know, you’re missing out on all the quality time you should be spending with your loved ones.
Even when we’re on a getaway, most of us tend to still be occupied with work. However, if you don’t give yourself the time to rest, you may feel mentally drained when your vacation comes to an end because it would feel like you didn’t take a break at all.
how to mentally prepare yourself for work after a holiday?
You need to mentally prepare yourself whenever you go on leave. The thought of going back to work after a long holiday with a long list of to-do tasks will likely elevate your stress levels and may make you feel guilty about taking leave in the first place.
Here are 5 helpful tips on how you can adjust your state of mind and prepare yourself to cope with your anxiety about going back to work after vacation.
1. switch off 'out of office messages' and on your push notifications
Before you go on leave, turn on the ‘out-of-office’ auto-reply with information about your unavailability as well as contact details of your team members who would be able to assist the sender for critical business matters. This will help ensure that projects continue to progress even when you’re absent.
You may also want to switch off the notifications of work-related mobile applications on your smartphone, such as your mailboxes, calendars and chats to avoid working in the middle of dinner at a restaurant with a beautiful view.
Since you were away for a few days, you may need to do a lot of reading to catch up on everything that’s happening at work. Instead of having to read 1,000 new unread emails on the day you return to work, dedicate 30 minutes every day in the morning before you head out of the hotel or AirBnB to stay updated with work so you don’t feel too overwhelmed the day you return to work. Just make sure that you stick to the time that you committed to so that you’re not missing out on once-in-a-lifetime experiences!
2. take an extra day off if you need to recover from a jet-lag
Managing jet-lag is one of the worst ways to start your first day back in the office. Jet-lag leaves you feeling disoriented and lethargic throughout the day. As a result, you will feel irritable and unintentionally be mean to your colleagues.
If you’re coming back from somewhere with a different time zone, try to regulate your sleeping pattern a day before you get on the returning flight. Getting accustomed to the time zone of your destination makes the next day a lot easier to handle.
Take an extra day off to recover from jet-lag if you have some annual leave to spare so that you can adjust your sleeping patterns before you resume work. If it’s difficult to fight sleepiness during the day, distract yourself with housework or grocery shopping to stay awake until the sun sets.
3. make a to-do list
Ease your way back to work by making a task list or a priority list on the returning flight, and another one after you’ve gone through all your unread emails. This is because a lot of things might have happened while you were away. Instead of replying to emails immediately, take the time to read them to find out the new progress so that you have a better idea of the tasks that you need to do or prioritise. Work with your team to align and prioritise the important tasks with nearer and non-negotiable deadlines.
You may also realise that some of your colleagues may be waiting for you to return to work to ask for your help, which could lead to a longer to-do list if you add them on. Instead of saying yes to everything, evaluate your current priorities first. If the new task is not as important as those that are already on your list, you can request for an extension or delegate the task to someone else in the team who has the bandwidth to support you.
Remember, it’s all about the quality of your work and not the quantity!
4. take short breaks throughout the day
You should always prioritise your mental health and learn how to effectively manage your stress levels. When you’re stressed about work, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes and produce lower quality of work, which isn’t what you want.
Taking regular breaks is very much necessary to have a healthy body and mind. If you’re someone who needs a reminder to take breaks, you can set up time in your work calendar to remind yourself to take a break. Do your laundry or make yourself a cup of tea to clear your mind. It will help you feel more relaxed, which would put you in a better mood for the rest of the day.
You can also snack on some energy-efficient food such as granola bars and bananas to boost your energy level when you feel tired in the afternoon. If you’re tempted to get a cup of coffee to stay awake during the day, bear in mind that drinking caffeine in the afternoon might cause you to stay up at night again.
Unless you have urgent work to clear, end work on time so that your mind can wind down and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. The last thing you should be doing is work 10 hours on your first day back to work. Instead of clocking extra work hours to clear your to-do list, leave the non-critical tasks to other days, or if possible in your position, delegate it to your team members.
5. socialise and catch up with your colleagues
It’s always a good idea to take some time to catch up with your colleagues to maintain your work relationships with them. After coming back from an amazing holiday, there must be a lot you can share with your colleagues about your trip or souvenirs that you would like to give them. Communication at work is essential and interacting with your colleagues can help you get back on track and stay updated on what's happening at work while you're away too.
Arrange for team lunches or a coffee run with your colleagues. When you have casual conversations with your colleagues, it can help reduce your stress levels and you may also learn new things about each other.
still dread going to work?
Travelling to other countries gives us a very different experience and it may change our perspective on life. It is usually the time that many people start to reflect on their career goals and life aspirations. We hope that this article has been helpful to you in understanding the proper steps to take to settle yourself back into work and recover after a holiday.
In the case that you're still dreading going to work, perhaps it's because you're no longer passionate about your job or company anymore. You should also note that there is also absolutely nothing wrong in feeling this way.
Connect with us if you’re facing a roadblock in your current job and want to start a new job search. Embark on a new career with us and make work meaningful.