It’s the nearing the end of Summer and most of us are already back from our Christmas breaks. If you’re feeling like that holiday glow didn’t last as long as you wanted, you’re not alone. New research indicates that the mental health benefits of a holiday fade quicker than a tan. It takes us just 3 days to get back into our normal level of stress.(i)
So if holidays don’t have a lasting impact on your wellbeing once you’re back, what can you do this year to ensure you stay on top of your stress?
Well, your best bet is to set in place some good habits now while you’re still feeling fresh and before the year really kicks into gear.
Though the days of people pooling their leave for years on end are for the most part done, there are still those that like to take all their annual leave in one big chunk. This can be handy if you’re planning an extended overseas break, but it may also leaving you feel burnout as the weeks stack up.
Small weekends away can be a positive alternative. They can do wonders for your health and can often leave you feeling as rejuvenated as a longer break. So why not plan some smaller getaways rather than saving it all up? Your boss will probably love you too, as it’s easier to cover someone for a day than a few weeks.
On a day-to-day level it’s also important to include regular breaks into your work day especially if your productivity is down. How many times have you struggled writing that difficult email, only to return to your desk after lunch with all the right words? Planning micro-breaks into your day and using them mindfully can be a wonderful way to reduce workplace stress.
Extend the holiday glow
Think of all the things you love about Summer holidays: the exotic fruit, the evening walks, the sunshine. Most of these can be incorporated, albeit in smaller portions, into our daily lives. If it’s a sunny day, get up from your desk and take five minutes in the sunshine. Or bring a stunning summer stone fruit salad to work to remind you of the buffet at your hotel.
Rethinking your work day
Often the only thing trapping us at our desk is the presumption that this is where we will be the most productive. In fact, you can incorporate much of what we know about destressing – exercising and getting outdoors for example – into your work day.
If you run a business, you might want to try ‘walking meetings’ for just this reason. You can have the exact same discussion while getting your heart rate up and changing your physical environment, giving you and your colleagues more energy once you get back.
Researchers at Melbourne University also discuss the idea of green breaks.ii Having foliage around the office where you can rest your eyes for even for just a minute can be hugely restorative.
Positive self-talk – positive work places
Right now’s also the time of year to embrace a spirit of positivity in the workplace which will help lower the stress levels of everyone you work with. You’ve probably heard of positive self-talk – having a series of little mantras, or things that you say to yourself to shake negative thoughts. Why not extend the same principle to your colleagues? This means building a culture of affirmation and encouragement. When good work is rewarded, it makes hearing criticism easier.
Remember, kindness begets kindness, and creating a language of positivity in your workplace means that this is what you’ll receive in return.
Your holiday glow may already be waning, but the truth is there are plenty of ways to maintain that positive, productive and energetic you that returned from hols. And seeing as the winter blues are still a few months off, now is the best place to implement the habits that will keep your workplace stress in check all year round.