Breaking out of the Post-Holiday Slump

It can be tough to shift your mindset to work after a well-deserved break. Here’s how you can make the transition back to business a little easier for yourself.
The gradsingapore Team
Dawn Yip
Writer, gradsingapore
Breaking out of the Post-Holiday Slump

In theory, the point of taking overseas vacations and long holidays is to give yourself the chance to feel well-rested and recharged for whatever comes next. But while you might physically be back in the office, you might find that your head hasn’t fully made the switch back to work mode.

This could mean zoning out throughout the day, having trouble focusing on your tasks, or the inability to muster the motivation to get back to your job. If this sounds like you, chances are you might be in a post-holiday slump.

Holiday highs to work lows

Also known as the post-holiday blues or post-vacation syndrome, this refers to the negative feelings one might experience after returning from a long vacation. Common symptoms include lower energy levels, vague anxiety, difficulty concentrating and higher irritability.

As for its cause, it’s suggested that it’s likely the result of emotional whiplash. Holidays tend to be a period of high energy for many (especially during festive seasons like Christmas or Chinese New Year), so once it’s all over and we’re back to our regular energy levels, the sudden change can feel somewhat jarring or even uncomfortable. Add on the amount of backlog waiting for you back in the office, and it’s probably no surprise that most people may find it difficult to immediately get back to the swing of things.


Easing back

The good news is that these feelings tend to be short-lived. The bad news is that even if that’s true, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s still work to be done. So what can you do to beat it, or at least make it easier to?

Give yourself some buffer time

If possible, avoid returning to work immediately after your holiday – the lack of time to transition back to work mode often does more harm than good. Instead, give yourself an extra day or two between the end of your holiday and your return to the office to mentally and physically prepare yourself.

This is especially helpful if you find yourself with jet lag from travelling overseas – the last thing you want is to snap at your colleagues just because you’re sleep-deprived!


Prepare a clear plan of action

Chances are, you’re probably dreading the amount of backlog you’re going to return to, especially if you feel pressured to immediately get back to your usual momentum. Instead, try to make a list of what needs to be done, and categorise them based on priority and complexity.


Do your best, but don't overcommit

Following the previous point, you may be tempted to try and clear as much as you can on your first day back, but try to keep things realistic and avoid overcommitting. If you make too many promises at once, chances are it’ll blow up in your face, letting down not just you, but others as well.

Instead, be clear about what you’ll be prioritising on your first week back, whether it’s to colleagues or your supervisor. Chances are, they’ll be understanding of your situation, so long as you’re honest and genuine about following up afterwards.


Plan something to look forward to

Sometimes, having something ahead to look forward to can help lift your spirits. Ideally, try to plan it in the same week that you return, whether that’s a night out with friends or an art course you’ve been meaning to take up. If you have some leave left over, you could even consider planning your next vacation if you want. Regardless of what it is, knowing that there’s a reward at the end of the tunnel could be the push you need to keep your momentum going.


Be patient with yourself

While it’s only temporary, feeling low after coming back from a holiday can sting, especially if you were hoping to return recharged and refreshed. However, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up and take all the time you need to adjust. If you need assistance for anything during this period, don’t hesitate to ask for help, too.


As you resume your work routine, there’s no shame in admitting to being in a slump after your break. The most important thing here is to acknowledge it and then work towards a return to normalcy. Eventually, you’ll be able to ditch the blues, and be ready to take on your career goals with zest once more.