How to avoid the office back-to-work blues

By Martin Johnston

The summer holidays finished this morning for many and work stress has jolted back into people's lives. Photo / Thinkstock
The summer holidays finished this morning for many and work stress has jolted back into people's lives. Photo / Thinkstock

Your mind is still at the beach, but your face may soon be staring at a screen of 300 unread emails or your boss may hand you a backlog of jobs to be done by lunchtime.

The summer holidays finished this morning for many, work stress has jolted back into people's lives and the daily grind has resumed. Some workers will feel sad and a bit distressed about this. Welcome to the back-to-work blues.

But it needn't all be glum. Experts in happiness, psychology and mental health have some tips to assist in crank-starting work motivation.

The Mental Health Foundation suggests that thinking ahead to your next break and filling out a leave application might be useful.

"Having your next holiday or annual leave planned is a good idea and can help to alleviate the stress of being back at work," it says.

Other tips include organising your desk or workspace, enrolling in a course for personal growth, reviewing your job, reserving at least 15 minutes a day exclusively for yourself, getting up early to avoid being rushed, doing something social or sporting to enjoy daylight saving after work, and eating, sleeping and exercising well.

Foundation chief executive Judi Clements suggests taking a measured approach to the new work year, because diving in too fast can leave us feeling exhausted and stressed.

Clinical psychologist Jared Watson agrees. He advises not to expect too much of yourself at first.

"Just be realistic about the fact that people need to build up momentum."

Mr Watson also suggests planning what you want to achieve over the next few months at work and identifying some professional development goals.

He agrees with the advice of the Guardian newspaper to shift the shed-load of unread emails into an archive folder and deal with them one-by-one only if your boss really wants you to do that.

"If you have to laboriously check every email," the paper says, "then make sure your boss understands that is what you are doing, so you don't end up trying to check them while taking on new work."

Stress-reducing tips

*Plan your next holiday
*Make a list of work priorities
*Ask your boss if you should struggle slowly through your backlog of emails or do new work instead

- NZ Herald

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