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Back To Work Blues

by Dr Andrea Papitsch-Clark - 3rd January, 2023

Back to Work Blues

The majority of the working population has started going back to work at some stage this week. And if you were amongst that group of people, you most likely felt a little bit sad and miserable about it…

Feeling blue when going back to work after holidays is a recognised phenomenon and has been variously named ‘post-vacation hangover’, or ‘back to work blues’ – the internet has been full of memes about returning to work this week, and it’s been trending on twitter under #backtoworkblues. Symptoms of this include being highly distractible, irritable, and feeling generally displeased.

Whilst not specific to returning to work after Christmas at the start of a new year, the blues might hit us particularly hard after the festive period. After two weeks out of our regular routine, including regular sleep and eating routines, it is likely that our body-clocks are out of sync and lead us to feel jetlagged. Having had time off, to spend with friends and family, and also the tendency to go to extremes over the festive period and over-indulge with eating, drinking and being merry, make it more likely that a crash will follow when it’s time to resume our regular routines.

Returning to work, and returning to our regular routines, may bring with it feelings of monotony, boredom and feelings of isolation. Coupled with this, you can see why the idea of getting up when it’s still dark outside, might not be a thrilling prospect! The cold weather probably doesn’t help either… It’s not surprising that this time of year we are particularly prone to starting to fantasise about extreme career changes (and moving to sunnier climes). But before you do anything drastic, you may want to consider the following:

  • Remind yourself that these feelings are normal, other people experience them too, and that they will soon pass!
  • Ease yourself back into work gently, and don’t be too ambitious in what you plan to do for the first couple of days. Perhaps make a plan of activities which you’d like to tackle over the first couple of days.
  • Laughing can be extremely effective in boosting your mood, as it releases endorphins which make you feel happier and contributes to well-being. If work doesn’t offer much to laugh about, perhaps watching a funny film or reading a funny book might.
  • Exercising is another way of releasing endorphins, and contributing to an increased sense of well-being. And it gets the post-Christmas diet on its way! Linked with this, perhaps consider what you are eating – whilst chocolate and junk food may be tempting as a way of comforting yourself, it’s unlikely to make you feel better.
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a few (considered) risks might also help to re-energise you, and succeeding at conquering your fears may likely put you in a better mood. These may be small things, like having a conversation with a person you don’t know, or being assertive with a co-worker.
  • Finally, if the thought of getting back into the same routines feels just too depressing, perhaps it is time to consider some changes, in your work, or your lifestyle more broadly. For instance, are there any new projects you could take on at work, which might prove exciting? Or do you want to take up a new hobby, meet your friends more regularly or start a new exercise routine? All of these may leave you feeling more motivated – just beware of not taking on too much all at once, and consider whether these changes are sustainable. Otherwise what you gain from the initial buzz of making these changes may turn sour and leave you feeling more blue about yourself and the year ahead!

If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our page about Life Changes & General Dissatisfaction useful.

If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our Depression Page helpful.

Dr Andrea Papitsch-Clark

Dr Andrea Papitsch-Clark

I am an enthusiastic individual, who is very passionate about and committed to her work as a clinical psychologist. I feel that it is a privilege for me to be invited by clients to share their journey of therapy with them, and I find an aspect of work well done or a successful therapy outcome extremely rewarding. My aim is to be collaborative, and to stand alongside the client, helping you make changes to unhelpful thought or behavior patterns, or exploring unhappy feelings, whilst guiding in a kind and gentle way.

The views expressed here are entirely my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the British CBT & Counselling Service

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