How to Combat the Post-Holiday Slump at Work

You’re finally back from your long, relaxing holiday break, and there’s really only one word to adequately describe how you’re feeling: Blah.

Let’s face it—readjusting to real life after the fun and festivities of the holiday season can be brutal. Instead of company potlucks, gift exchanges, and days off from work, you’re faced with a stuffed inbox, a mounting to-do list, and the daunting reminder that you’ll have to wait until Memorial Day for another freebie day off of work.

Yes, the post-holiday slump is a little too real for all of us. Luckily, there are some strategies and tactics you can use to overcome that “blah” feeling and start this year off on the right foot.

1. Set Goals and Action Items

Returning to the office after your time off can seem like an uphill battle—meaning it’s extra important for you to set some goals as well as some action items you’ll use to actually accomplish these objectives.

Doing so will give you a newfound sense of purpose and remind you of what you’re working toward—other than hopefully, eventually, maybe someday tackling that mountain of messages in your inbox.

Whether it’s a major project you need to break into smaller chunks and wrap up by the end of the month or a more personal career goal—like wanting to land a promotion by the end of the year—outline your ambitions and the steps you’ll take to reach them. Staying focused on the big picture will be helpful in those moments when everything seems meaningless.

2. Make a Shorter To-Do List

While it’s good to reserve some time for some goal planning soon after your return to the office, you definitely don’t want to overwhelm yourself with far too much on your plate. Those goals and milestones are larger—meaning they’ll take weeks or even months to accomplish. But, when it comes to your daily to-do list? You want to keep it short.

Make your best effort to limit yourself to just three key things on your to-do list each and every day. Doing so is helpful for a few different reasons.

For starters, it saves you from feeling frazzled and stressed every time you look down at a seemingly endless roster of tasks. After all, three to-dos seems manageable, right? Secondly, studies have shown that far too many of us make our to-do lists way too long. By sticking with three items, you’re that much more likely to kick your productivity into high gear. And, we could all use that extra boost after a long break, right?

3. Stay Hydrated

Did you know that an estimated 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Even worse, this dehydration can cause extreme fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and a slew of other symptoms you’d probably like to avoid following your holiday break (or forever, really).

You might feel the overwhelming urge to scramble for the coffee pot or the shortest Starbucks line when you’re trying to get yourself motivated after a long break. And, while there’s nothing wrong with the occasional caffeine fix, don’t neglect to also chug some much-needed water throughout the day.

Trust me, it can make a world of difference in how you feel. And, honestly, we could all use a little pick-me-up right now.

4. Keep Moving

As much as we try to separate our professional lives and personal lives, we all know that the way we feel outside of the office has a big impact on how we’ll feel during our nine to five. As you’ve likely been told time and time again, exercise can be a great benefit to making you feel better all around.

Now, don’t take this to mean you need to start training for a marathon. This can be as simple as taking a stroll on your lunch break or joining a workout class you enjoy. Do what you can to keep your body moving and pump those endorphins, and you’ll be out of your slump in no time.

5. Leave Time for Fun

Making the immediate switch from “holiday relaxation mode” to “work mode” can feel brutal at best. You feel as if your days are consumed with emails, meetings, and commitments—meaning you have almost zero time left for the things you actually enjoy.

But, you know what? It doesn’t have to be that way. Each week—or even each day—make sure that you block out some non-negotiable time you can use for play instead of work. Use that time to bake, meditate, read, get together with friends, or partake in a hobby you love. The important thing is to remember to leave yourself adequate time to enjoy your life—believe me, that doesn’t just need to happen over the holidays.

Want to take this a step further? Sit down with your calendar and pick a weekend to schedule a little getaway trip. In the long stretch of holiday-less winter, knowing that you have a mini vacation scheduled for yourself can really serve to boost your mood.

We all experience a bit of a post-holiday slump at work. But, it’s nothing you can’t shake! Put these five tips to work, and you’ll ditch that emotional funk and feel ready to take on the brand new year.

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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