Does the post-holiday comedown always get you down? Here’s our ultimate stress management guide for shifting work anxiety, jetlag and even any extra pounds from the holiday buffet...
From inbox explosion to jet lag , the bump back to reality after even the most relaxing of holidays can make it seem like you were never away. Sound familiar?
If the ultimate Monday blues are getting you down, fret not. To make the transition as painless as possible, we've asked five wellbeing and health experts for their top stress relief tips for tackling stress at work, beating jetlag and getting back on the healthy living wagons ASAP.
With their essential checklist for beating the post-holiday blues, surviving your first week back on home soil will be a much smoother ride...
1. Start now
If a three-course breakfast has become the norm during your time away and your jeans are feeling ever-so-slightly more snug as a result, getting back to healthier habits needn’t feel as daunting as it seems. “It’s never easy to get back on the healthy bandwagon post-holiday but there really is no time like the present,” says nutritional therapist and Get The Gloss Expert Zoe Stirling . “The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to get back on track and into a healthy routine,” she adds.
“The sooner you have that healthy meal, ditch the sugar or have your first post-holiday workout, the more motivated you’ll feel to get back on track. In addition, think of it as damage limitation; the longer you put it off, the more damage you are likely to have done to your body and to your willpower!”
2. Increase your fibre intake
“In order to start cleansing our body from the onslaught of delicious fun, increasing your intake in fibre can help to get you regular again, removing toxins from the body,” recommends Zoe. “Fibre in particular can act as a ‘toxin sweep’ to help move debris through the digestive tract ready for elimination; include natural food sources such as oats, vegetables - celery, sweetcorn, fruits – apples, pears, citrus fruits and berries, beans, lentils and wholegrains.”
3. Take a probiotic
For a helping hand, employ the assistance of some friendly bacteria to beat the bloat. “Take a probiotic supplement post-holiday. Alcohol, sugar and a high fat diet can all disturb the natural flora of the gut, causing bad bacteria to multiply so taking a probiotic may help re-balance the digestive system after enjoying a few extra cocktails by the pool or rose-fuelled lunches!” explains Zoe. "I tend to use Biocare BioAcidophilus , £67.25 for maintenance and BioAcidophilus Forte , £34.25 for something a little stronger when needed."
4. Drink some matcha green tea
Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest impacts and swapping your morning coffee for a healthier alternative is one of them. “Coming back to the old routine of work and early mornings is never easy and most of us fall victim to picking up bad habits such as fuelling our day with coffee. Instead, try and ditch it in place of a matcha latte,” recommends Zoe.
“ Matcha is a form of green tea made from the whole leaf, which has greater antioxidant properties compared to brewed blends. It’s also thought to contain l-theanine, an amino acid that promotes a sense of calmness and wellbeing – perfect to beat the holiday blues!”
5. Prevention is better than cure
“One of the best ways to deal with post-holiday stress is to make a plan BEFORE you go on holiday ,” says career coach Anna Percy-Davis . “There is nothing worse than worrying during (or even before!) a holiday about how we are going to cope when we get back, so put a few things in place before you leave.”
6. Run for cover
Need a helping hand? Employ the help of a colleague that you trust - provided you’re prepared to return the favour. “Make sure you have a good relationship with them and you agree what they will do,” advises Anna. “Make it worth their while (best case scenario is if you have to cover for them when they are on holiday, so it really is worth their while doing it properly!).”
7. Detonate the inbox explosion
If the prospect of looking at your emails upon your return fills you with the type of horror best reserved for a scary movie, there are options available to help offset the stress. “If an exploding inbox is a big concern, remember you have a choice - can you get your cover person to look at them on your behalf? Can you spend 20 minutes every day on holiday looking at them or will you deal with them all upon your return?
"Whichever you decide, make it work for you and make sure you make it your choice so you don't feel put upon or powerless,” recommends Anna.
8. Organise a first day catch-up
To ensure your first day back doesn’t undo all the hard work you’ve put in over your holiday to relax, diarise a quick meeting first thing on your first day to get up to speed. “If you are worried about missing anything, get your cover to make a list of all you have missed or schedule a meeting with the person who can best fill you in as soon as you arrive back and before you get buried in day-to-day tasks,” suggests Anna.
9. Prioritise your workload
Don’t let your inner perfectionist pile on the pressure to get everything done as soon as you return. If it can wait until tomorrow, let it. “If you fear being overwhelmed, make a plan for your first day, week and even month after you get back. Keep checking in with yourself to ensure you are getting the right things done. Are you spending too much time on ‘stuff’ or are you getting the essential, really important stuff done!?” says Anna.
“Going on holiday is a great moment to get things in perspective - are you spending too much time on bad or even good work but never quite getting to the great work? Try returning to work and instead of panicking about all the stuff to do ask yourself, ‘How important is this? In a year, month, week or even day, will this still be in important?’ Focus, especially on those first few days back in the office, on the important things and, if you can't work out what are the key things you need to deliver on are, make sure you ask.”
10. View your holiday as an essential part of your job
Does the prospect of going on holiday cause you to feel inexplicably guilty? Well, don’t let it. You’re entitled to it and ultimately it’s better for business too. Use it as a time to refresh and recharge your batteries in order to make sure that you’re the best version of yourself upon your return. “Don't let worry about your return to work ruin your holiday,” advises Anna.
“Make a plan before you leave and keep your perspective upon your return - after all, there are so many benefits for your productivity and creativity that taking a holiday is good for your working life too.”
11. Reset your goals
If exercise couldn’t have been further from your mind while sipping cocktails at sunset (and who could really blame you?!) view your transition from sand to sofa as a chance to start fresh when it comes to your fitness goals. “You probably worked hard to get into shape for your holidays and your body had a well-deserved rest to restore and have time to be,” says personal trainer Christina Howells .
“I like to think of this time as an ideal opportunity to review and reset your goals to help motivate you back to fitness,” she adds. With your energy reserves reset to full, there seems no better time than now to do so.
12. Make a plan
Approach exercise with the same organisation as you would your work schedule. “It is important to make yourself a priority and develop an exercise plan,” recommends Christina. “Getting back to focusing on your own wellbeing is the most vital thing one can do to achieve long-term sustainable health both physically and mentally, as well as long-term success in other aspects of our lives.
“I recommend developing a flexible monthly plan and taking time once a week to take charge of your diary and pencil in your workouts before it takes charge of you.”
13. Be consistent if you want results
“You've set your goals and made a plan but to get results you need to be consistent or it simply won’t happen,” Christina points out. “Plan to start ASAP and be diligent to sticking to a weekly plan. If it’s in the diary, it stays in the diary!”
14. Be prepared to battle the blues
“Firstly always be prepared for the mood shift as you return home. It is understandable that going from the freedom of being on holiday, the relaxation, the pleasurable excitement etc. back to the reality of home and work life can create mixed emotions,” explains Clinical Hypnotherapist Terrence The Teacher . “Try to make the transitions back slowly - there’s no need to rush directly into your normal routine. An example to slow this down is to perhaps leave a day or two of holiday available to spend at home before you return to work.”
15. Be kind to yourself
Putting ourselves first a lot more is a lesson all of us can learn from being on holiday. Remember the relief of feeling the weight of the world slowly leaving your shoulders? The sleep, the relaxation, the happiness? Try to carry these healthy habits home with you along with your souvenirs. “Bring some of the holiday spirit back with you. Do things that nurture your mind and body. Get back into a healthy fitness routine and also eating healthily,” advises Terrence. “It will aid in your wellbeing and we know a healthy lifestyle helps to enhance mood by releasing ‘happy’ endorphins.”
16. Employ a digital detox
It may seem impossible nowadays, but switching off your digital appliances when you don’t need them could hold the key to, well, switching off long after the holiday’s over.
“We live in a hyper-connected world; this can be stressful and negatively affect our sleep,” says psychologist and Get The Gloss Expert Elaine Slater . “Research has shown night time exposure to blue light, emitted at high levels by electronic devices inhibits and suppresses the pineal gland from releasing the sleep hormone melatonin, disrupts circadian rhythms and over-stimulates our central nervous system. Disconnect from your gadgets and practice a digital detox routine at least two hours before bedtime,” she advises.
17. Develop a sleep routine
As tempting as it sounds to combat post-holiday fatigue by just doubling up your lie-ins, they could be doing more harm than good. “Maintaining a regular bedtime helps set your internal sleep-wake clock and reduces the amount of tossing and turning required to fall asleep,” explains Elaine. “Avoid over-sleeping; this will only disrupt your biological clock.”
18. Be mindful of sleep hygiene
Had the most incredible night’s sleep in your hotel room? Recreate the conditions at home to allow the sweet dreams to continue. “Ensure your bedroom is quiet, comfortable, dark, cool and ventilated,” recommends Elaine. “A darkened room stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and aids quality sleep.”
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