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Are You Feeling the Back to Work Blues?

Dreaming at your desk about your recent vacation? Having trouble concentrating? Feeling depressed and wishing you were anywhere but at work? You are not alone.

Doctors don’t officially have a name for this. There’s nothing specific in the official manual of mental disorders. But some people call this sadness #backtoworkblues or #holidayblues.

 Feeling cranky about the first day back to work is perfectly normal according to Dr. Angelos Halaris, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University in Illinois.


“The stark contrast of the joy and freedom of family and friend time with the drudgery of answering a zillion work emails, can be hard on your emotional well-being,” he said.


It’s not just adults, either. A 2017 study found adolescent depression, anxiety and feelings about everyday hassles appeared to be tied to the end and beginning of school-vacation cycles. It might come as no surprise that teens felt less anxious and depressed during the vacation.


So what can you do to bring back that vacation feeling even if you’re at the office?

Know that most people feel like they are in the same sinking boat.

Book another vacation — even if it’s a mini-vacation. Experts say having something to look forward to can ease the bite of the back to work blues.


Ease back into work. “Don’t jump into the cold water, you’ll have a heart attack. Ease your way back into your routine,” Halaris said. Set small goals to feel a sense of accomplishment.


“If you ease into this with full awareness, rather than trying to plan a ton and hope to get it all done in the next 24 hours, it helps.”


You can also try to add some variety into your worklife. If you’re always stuck at your desk, set a timer and take a brisk walk or try to fit in a workout.


Don’t dwell. Know that something you enjoyed has come to an end, but make peace with it and know it will come back again. Resist feeling sorry for yourself.

“Self talk and being optimistic is important,” Halaris said.

Take advantage of the break in your routine and start new office habits. Even if it is something small like being friendlier to random co-workers or getting up to walk away from your desk once an hour, it helps.


Reflect. Think about what you liked about your break and bring an element of it to your work. If you enjoyed connecting with friends you don’t normally see, squeeze them into your weekly schedule, even if it’s for a 15-minute coffee.


And do connect. People who are blue tend toward withdrawal.


“Push yourself to interact even if you don’t feel like it,” Hillard said. Company helps avoid misery. “Prescribe yourself an evening out with relatives or friends in the upcoming weeks,” Halaris said.


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