6 Tips for a Stress-Free Return to Work After Vacation


Coming back to work after a long holiday break has never been easy. This year, holidays have been different than usual for everyone. While some people have decided to spend their holidays in the same city or country, commonly known as staycation, others were able to travel abroad.

Regardless of the type of vacation, getting back on track can be challenging, and on some occasions, there may be cases of what we know as post-holiday blues. In this article, we explore post-vacation syndrome and gather some tips for an optimal return to work.

What is post-vacation syndrome?

Also known as ‘holiday blues’, post-vacation syndrome is a low mood that appears after a period of intense emotions or stress. Some of the main symptoms of post-vacation disorder are insomnia, low energy, short temper, lack of concentration and anxiousness. Post-holiday syndrome can be described as the result of a sudden release of stress hormones after an important event, like a wedding or holidays.

A survey showed 87% of people admitted being apprehensive when returning to work after taking a vacation. Here are some of the top reasons explaining the results:

  • Getting back to the routine, 37%
  • Catching up with backlogged work, 31%
  • A busy environment, 27%
  • The volume of unread emails, 26%

These figures may seem overwhelming; however, post-holiday blues can be prevented by implementing some specific tips.

6 Tips for a stress-free return to work

It is always a good idea to have a plan to avoid the overwhelming feeling of stress when returning from holidays. Here are some efficient tips to get back to work with recharged batteries:

1. Organize yourself

Efficiently managing your work and personal life is key to restoring peak productivity after a break. If you spent your holidays away from home, you probably have a list of domestic tasks to address, such as cleaning and grocery shopping. Additionally, a cluttered workspace with scattered documents, can create distractions. To smoothly transition back into work mode, consider organizing both your personal and professional spaces before fully immersing yourself in your routine and responsibilities.

2. Plan an easy first day

While you enjoyed relaxation during your holiday, transitioning to a busy schedule filled with deadlines, urgent responsibilities, and meetings can be overwhelming. To alleviate this, consider blocking a dedicated time slot in your calendar to catch up, strategize a plan of action, and prioritize tasks. This approach will provide a smoother transition and help you manage the demands of your return to work effectively.

3. Sort your inbox

Emails are the predominant communication tool for businesses.  According to Statista, by 2025, 376 billion emails will be sent and received worldwide.

An essential tip is to avoid stressing about the quantity of emails, as these may be ads, conversation chains or spam. Instead, organizing emails is the best way to go through them, categorizing and dividing them by tasks and priorities; this will give a better picture of your inbox without drowning in the numbers.

4. Catch up with colleagues

Even though the workload can be high, an excellent way to disconnect for a couple of minutes is having a coffee break with colleagues. Talking about holidays, experiences, and anecdotes helps to reduce stress levels and get you up to speed on what’s been going on in the organization.  

Communication between teammates positively impacts the workplace, affecting employees, managers, and the company’s environment. Ultimately, a conversation with colleagues can make the first week after vacation more bearable.

5. Sustain your recharged energy

After any absence, it is easy to believe that in order to catch-up you need to extend your working hours. However, this can lead to additional stress and it will most likely negatively impact your productivity in the long-term even if you have the feeling you are doing more in the short-term.

Holidays are an important part of a work life balance. As such, any feeling of guilt about taking time off needs to be eliminated and you should avoid overworking when coming back to keep the positive energy accumulated during your holidays as long as possible.

Here is when teamwork comes into play; all organizations need to be able to carry on without certain individuals over different periods throughout the year. Making sure you have a plan in place to delegate tasks and keep projects moving while you’re away can help to mitigate the need for extra efforts upon your return.

6. Research your industry

As you return to work, it’s essential to stay informed about any developments that might have taken place in your industry, such as new technologies or processes. Just as you engage with colleagues to stay up-to-date on company changes during your absence, you should also research news online to discover any industry-related updates. Staying informed about industry trends is essential for re-establishing your productive mindset. This approach is particularly valuable for roles involving strategic planning, like market forecasting, trend analysis, and marketing strategy development.

On that note, it might be a good time for you to take a few minutes to catch up with a colleague or even just relax and meditate.

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