10 Ways to Beat the Back to Work Blues

Are we there yet … back to work? How are you feeling about that? Super excited, ready to throw yourself into achieving those goals or filled with dread, anxiety and panic over what you are going to be faced with? Is it going to be groundhog day, just the same start to every new year that you’ve always had. If you are feeling like that, don’t worry you’re not alone, many of us experience the back-to-work blues after a vacation, even if we love our jobs and find it super rewarding and fulfilling. 

Here are a few ways to help overcome the back to work blues:

Quit your Job

Feeling a sense of dread at going back to the office after a period away is likely to be a sign that you should be doing something else. So, a good way to manage the back-to-work blues is to reflect on what else you might like to do with your life and be proactive about kicking off your job search. Alternatively, if you’re sick of the stress of your job, now might be a good time to hatch a plan to move into self-employment and start your own business even. Potentially, this could enable you to enjoy much longer vacations in the future.

 Book your next vacation

A less drastic option than the one above, this may be all that is required to lift your spirits since you will immediately have something to look forward to. Try not to make your next vacation too far into the future either. Taking lots of short vacations could be the answer since studies suggest that short vacations are not necessarily better than long ones. In fact, benefits to health and wellbeing can be felt as early as two days into a break. 

Set yourself some positive, out-of-work goals

Vacations can be a good time to reflect on what else you want from life – in addition to a thriving career, of course. Too often, we are so focused on achieving our career goals that we neglect the other things that matter to us in life, such as spending time with family and friends, indulging in our hobbies, travelling for pleasure and learning new skills or languages. Coming back to the workplace after a break is a good opportunity to reset your priorities and set some new goals for the months ahead. These need to be positive goals that help to bring the joy back into your life, rather than punishing targets that only compound your back-to-work misery. 

Meet up with someone you haven’t seen for a while

It could be a former colleague or a long-lost friend, but it should be someone whom you enjoy spending time with. Catching up with people you haven’t seen for a while can be a source of pleasure and it can also help to bring a fresh perspective to your life. Part of the dread associated with going back to work is linked to routine. Seeing someone you don’t normally see is a way to break that routine and feel that you are doing something different.

 Maintain your quality downtime

After a vacation, we all too easily switch back into all the bad habits that we had before – for example, being glued to our devices, or answering emails watching Netflix on the couch at night. When you’re not working, make sure your downtime is relaxing, quality and all about you and/or your family.


Plan your return

Most people focus on getting organized for departure, perhaps maximizing their time away and then coming home just the day before work begins. Consider instead coming back one or two days before your job begins and get a more quiet, uninterrupted jump on email. It can lessen the impact that first day back at the office. I’m not overly keen on that one, but it can ease your overwhelm.

 Build in some transition time

 If possible, do not schedule meetings during your first days back, you need time to prepare and get ready. Even give yourself the first week to settle back in and get your head around what needs to be sorted. 

 Make a list and get organised

 Create a list of items that must get done on your first days back. When you’re struggling to focus and don’t know where to even start, this is a great way to stay on track and accomplish the bare minimum. And try prioritizing your tasks. You may have a lot of maintenance or applications to process, prioritise and tick them off your list as you go.

We have a That PM Planner and That PM Journal to help you get organised.

A positive attitude

Focus on the positive and avoid the negative. Easier said than done. It’s often all about perspective, try and find the positives in most things, but especially work. You spend the majority of your day there so you want to enjoy it, otherwise, yep, it’s time to look for that new job. You might also want to do some mindset work if you are really struggling.

 Find your purpose

We need to feel motivated and that we have a purpose at our jobs. Try to formulate your purpose. There are a few ways to start this process and much of it comes down to what you want and why. So, grab a pen and paper if you are unclear and get to work working out want you really want. The next part of the equation is to start taking action towards it. 

It’s natural to undergo a period of adjustment when returning to work – especially if you have had a particularly good vacation. So, go easy on yourself, avoid working long hours on your first few days back and be wary of making dramatic decisions. Nevertheless, you should also view this period as a time of opportunity to make some important changes that have a positive impact on both your career and your life. Going back to work doesn’t have to make you feel blue. It can be the start of an exciting new chapter.

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