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Nothing can be more stressful than seeing the massive amount of work waiting for you the minute you arrive to work. It doesn’t take much for you to become cranky towards your employees, bosses and your family.

You to feel burned out and depressed at work.  

Worst, your overall performance is taking a slump.

The case of the #BackToWorkBlues

The post-holiday blues is not just a feeling or a popular hashtag to tweet on your first day to work. It’s a real problem that can cause you to experience the following negative symptoms:


Feeling grouchy and that overwhelming idea of too much workload is prevalent among managers as soon as they set foot in their offices, according to Dr. Angelo Halaris, a psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience professor at Loyola University in Illinois.


Dr. Halaris points out that when you’re on holiday, you don’t follow a strict time schedule waking up to get to work on time.

“The 10 to 14 days of the holiday season with Christmas and New Year’s we tend to go overboard even in the best sense…That [sets the stage] for the post-holiday crash,” he explains.


While the holiday season is one of the most joyous times of the year, it’s also one of the most stressful. This is especially true if things don’t turn out the way you’d hope, or you’re struggling to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

The cold, winter season can also cause you to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder—a mental health condition that’s triggered by the changing of the seasons and times.

According to Dr. Randy Hillard, a professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, these situations are the reason why depression and suicide rates dramatically increase immediately after the holidays.

Poor work performance

According to Dr. Victoria Revel, a chronobiologist at the University of Surrey, the stress, anxiety, and overwhelming feeling you experience are linked to how you spent your Christmas and New Year.

Since you go to bed and wake up much later than you usually do at work, your body clock has shifted. Even if it’s been a few days, the effects on your body are just the same as though you’ve traveled a couple of time zones westward.   

Unfortunately, your body clock doesn’t shift overnight. It takes time for it to transition back to your “regular” work schedule. If you’ve ever taken a trip where you’ve crossed several time zones, your body goes through the same stress and adjustment when you head back to work from the holidays.

And just like when you experience a nasty case of jet lag, you’ll find yourself having difficulty in concentrating at work. You’ll also become more clumsy, irritable and fatigued. That means you’re more prone to making mistakes at work and you don’t perform your best at your job overall.

That said, here are 10 achievable tips to prevent the post-holiday blues and ease back to work after the holidays.

1. Start the transition early

starting early to ease back to work

Preparing yourself to ease back to work from the holidays begin right before you go on your break.

Set up and schedule your email and voicemail vacation auto response to turn on the day you’re on your holiday break. You won’t be able to inform all of your clients and colleagues when you’re leaving for the holidays and when you’ll be back. Having these set up is your way of giving them a heads up not only when they can get in touch with you about their concerns, but also how they can reach you if the matter’s urgent.

If you’ve got projects that you and your team are working on, be sure to take the time to delegate only the most critical parts of the project to the rest of your team. That way, the project is making progress without compromising your fun time during the holiday festivities.

Start working on your sleeping pattern a few days before you head back to work. Start going to bed early the night before and set the alarm to the time you usually get up for work, even if you’re not going anywhere. This will help your body sleep/wake cycle to return back to what it was during the pre-holiday season.

2. Go easy on your employees

Your employees are prone to suffering from the back-to-work blues as much as you. So, even if you’ve managed to ease back to work after the holidays with a smile on your face, they might not have.

That said, you can help them ease back to work from the holidays by cutting them extra slack and being more patient with them during the first few weeks.

Yes, there are deadlines that you need to meet. However, bombarding them with tons of work immediately after they return from the holiday break can make them all stressed and cranky. The increased pressure to get things done right away will also cause them to make mistakes that you’ll have to fix.

Allowing them to ease back to work from the holidays will show them that you sincerely care about them. And they’ll appreciate that. In return, they’ll become more motivated to get their groove back sooner than later.

3. Set small goals

Because there’s so much work that has to be done after the holidays, you and your team may feel the need to go big on your first day to get as much of this work done.

That’s just like jumping into a pool of ice water. It shocks your system so much that it can cause you to experience a heart attack.

Instead, ease back to work from the holidays by setting small goals for you and your team to hit. Lynn Taylor, the author of the book Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Your Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, recommends coming to work a little bit earlier than usual.

This will help give a little bit more time to work through the workload that greets you after the holidays. And because more than half of employees in the US get to work late, especially after the holidays, you can do your job without getting distracted by other colleagues or your boss poking their heads to your office.

4. Avoid setting meetings on your return

Setting a meeting as soon as you are going back to work is a big No-No. You don’t want to feel pressured to make major decisions at this point especially when you got a lot to do.

According to Michael Kerr, author of The Humour Advantage, scheduling meetings immediately when you get back to work after the holidays will leave you feeling overwhelmed. These meetings would also cause your pending work to get pushed back even more.

Free yourself from any appointments at this time and instead take this chance to interact with your associates and employees. Update yourself with what’s going on with your business, departments, and clients.  This gives you a sense of control. It also prevents holiday blues after being away for too long.

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5. Practice the Pomodoro Technique

Working for 8 hours a day after the holidays might create holiday blues for some managers like you. To stop unnecessary exhaustion, try the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is a time management system wherein the intervals are called pomodoros.

Here you break your shift into 25-minute breaks separated by 5-minute intervals. This is a proven method that many managers going back to work use to avoid the worn out feeling throughout the day.

6. Detox your body

You are likely to have your share of cocktails, sumptuous meals, and late night outs during the holidays and one thing you should do first before going back to work is to have a detox. Cleansing your body by indulging in a green smoothie for breakfast will help get rid of the toxins in your body and will help ease unexplained fatigue and sluggishness.

Preparing your body for work is essential because it will keep your holiday blues at bay. After all, a healthy body is a healthy mind!

7. Create your to-do list the night before

Writing a to-do list is another way to ease back to work from the holidays.

You’ve been gone from work for some time, and that means you got a lot waiting for you at work. Not having a to-do list to guide you on what tasks you need to tackle as soon as you get back will cause you to be all over the place.

Worst, the new pile of workload waiting for you at the office can push back those pending tasks you were working on before you went on leave.

I usually write out my to-do lists the night before I head off to work the next day. I found this very useful for three reasons.

First, I’m more relaxed in the evening. So I got a clear head to go through all the tasks that need to be done so that I can prioritize them on my list.

Second, since I’m doing this the night before, I can focus on completing on all the tasks I’ve left before I went on vacation. That way, even though there’s a massive pile of new work for me waiting for me, my to-do list can help me stay focused on completing those I’ve left behind before I start on something new.

Last, but not the least, making my to-do list the night before means that I can start tackling those I listed the moment I wake up and get moving. So I end my day productive, and that helps me stay motivated and quickly overcome the back-to-work blues.

8. Declutter everything

Cleaning up your desk should be the last thing to do before you go on your holiday break and the first thing to do when you return.

A desk filled with so much paperwork, mails, and Post-It Notes can make you feel extremely overwhelmed and pressured, even if many of these are junk mails. It’s quite difficult for you to function and think with a messy space. Imagine going back to work with all the reports, letters, and even gifts piled up on your table. How can you even think in with all that stuff?

File away all the paperwork that is done or no longer relevant before you leave work. That way, you won’t waste your time and effort on sorting through all of these.

Once you get back, go through the paperwork on your desk and sort all them and group them based on their priorities. Neatly file and store them away. That way, when you get done with your to-do list of pending tasks, you know which ones you’ll grab and work on next.

9. Leave the office on time

As much as you want to do every unfinished task that you missed, you won’t be able to finish everything in one day. This is true especially when you have piles and piles of reports that you need to check and sign.

Take it easy!

You and your team are still recuperating from the holiday madness.

Leaving work on time when there’s still lots to do can make you feel guilty. Don’t be!

This will help you ease back to work from the holidays without feeling too stressed and overwhelmed. It also prevents you from being cranky and taking this out on your family.

And please don’t bring work to your home. Have some rest and shake off all the stress. You’ll get your groove and momentum back in a few days.

10. Reward yourself

After a hard day’s work, it would be a great idea if you will reward yourself with a relaxing massage, a good meal or a few drinks with friends after a shift. Even though holidays over, learn to treat yourself after you have done tasks in your plan. Don’t forget to celebrate even your smallest accomplishments still. You deserved it! That’s for sure!

But don’t overdo it if you don’t want to prolong your holiday blues.

What is the one tip you’re taking away here to help you ease back to work from the holidays? Share this in the comments below.

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