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Back to work blues?

back to work blues
02-01-2020

So it's the first day back at work for many of us after a Christmas and New Year break. Hands up if you didn't leap out of bed and skip your way through your commute?!

Feeling the 'back to work' blues is quite normal, and there's something about January that's, well, January-ish... It's cold, it's grey, and you may well have overdone it on the festivities, so getting back into setting that alarm can be a real shock to your slowed-down system.

But for some people, going back to work after a break can provoke heightened anxiety and a real sense of dread. According to the latest mental health statistics, almost three-quarters of British adults have felt overwhelmed and stressed to the point of feeling unable to cope in the last year, and it's thought that as many as 1 in 6 workers are dealing with common mental health problems like stress, anxiety or depression at any one time (Mind).

If the thought of going back to work has plagued your thoughts for the last couple of days, or kept you awake at night, then the chances are your back to work blues are symptomatic of a bigger issue. There are a few things you can do to help ease yourself back into the working mode, but if you're still struggling it may help to talk things through with the LionHeart team.

Plan/ prioritise
The first day back can be one of the busiest and you might well be bombarded with new projects, meetings and emails. Having an initial list of tasks and priorities for the first week back can help you plan your workload and work out your priorities. Make sure the list includes some simple and relatively quick tasks so you can tick them off and feel like you've made some progress.

Practise self care
Don't worry, we're not necessarily talking about going all out on a January gym fest, or giving up meat/ booze/ dairy etc etc - if you're feeling anxious about work then piling additional pressure and expectations on yourself is not going to help. But try cutting a little of the caffeine from your office diet, take or buy a healthy snack instead of grabbing something sugary mid-morning so you don't fall into a sugar high, sugar low cycle. Take a lunch break and get yourself away from your phone/ computer: a brisk walk is ideal, but a change of scene will do.

Re-evaluate
When you've got through the first couple of days back, think about how you feel now. If work is still filling you with a sense of dread or anxiety, you probably need to consider a more long-term strategy to help you cope. Can you identify what the main issues are? How long have you been feeling like this? If you can work out what is causing your anxiety then you might be able to work out small solutions to help take the pressure off. It might help to talk to a trusted colleague or your line manager - or speak to a LionHeart support officer in confidence.

Taking control
There's nothing worse than feeling like you don't have control over something that is making you miserable. Obviously, you won't be able to control all of the external factors which are causing you stress, but there is a lot you can do to control your reactions to them.

Ask for help. LionHeart's experienced team has helped countless surveyors through workplace stress. You can speak to a support officer in confidence to talk through your concerns and they can help you make a plan. This might include one to one coaching and professional counselling to help you move forward.

Need to talk? Call the helpline now on 0800 009 2960, or email info@lionheart.org.uk and we'll get in touch.

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