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How to beat the back to work blues

Monday, 7 January 2013

How to beat the back to work blues

The post holiday glow is beginning to fade. You’ve just sat at your desk, logged into your computer and your email inbox is at bursting point. In the background you can hear the familiar beep/ring of your phone… the festive holiday seems like a distant memory already.

Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation says:

“It’s not unusual to get a case of back to work blues in the New Year. People are so busy over the festive season that often they don’t get a proper chance to recharge their batteries.

“Many of us get back to our desks and dive straight into our work without easing ourselves into it. This approach can soon leave us feeling exhausted and stressed.”

Back to work blues can come in many forms, some people feel disorientated and have a go slow attitude. Others have little interest in their work and focus on planning their next holiday. On top of that you may feel irritable, find yourself in a bad mood or even suffer headaches or other physical manifestations of stress.

“Having your next holiday or annual leave planned is a good idea and can help to alleviate the stress of being back at work”, says Ms Clements. Quite often it gives people an incentive for being back at work, it helps people to focus, think positively and reduce their current feelings of work pressure.”

The Mental Health Foundation has the following tips to reduce back to work blues:
• Create a harmonious work environment – Organise your workspace; have something personal that you like, or photos of friends and family on your desk. Set a favourite picture as your screen saver.
• Think about your personal growth – Do you have any skills that you would like to develop further? Why not enrol in a learning course this year. It doesn’t have to be work related!
• Review your job – Is it still fulfilling your needs and does it still challenge you? Ask your manager for a job review. Speak about your wants and needs for the role. Discuss any areas of work you are finding difficult.
• Take time out – Make sure you have at least 15 minutes a day to yourself. Go for a short walk or read a bit of a good book.
• Get organised – Get up earlier so you don’t have to rush; set aside time for processing email; break large projects into small steps.
• After work activities – It’s summer, enjoy the daylight-filled evenings, arrange sporting or social activities with friends and family so you have something to look forward to after work or at weekends.
• Look after yourself – get more sleep, take part in more physical activity and eat better this year. It will help you to think more clearly and to feel less stressed and more relaxed.


While it’s not unusual to feel blue when you first get back to work, it’s not usual for this feeling to continue. If you do continue to feel this way for more than two weeks and you constantly feel down and tearful for no apparent reason, please speak to someone you trust or see your GP for help. You can also phone the following numbers for advice:
• Lifeline on 0800 543 354
• Youthline on 0800 376 633
• The depression support line on 0800 111 757
For further information visit or

For information and training on how to create and maintain workplaces that support the mental health and wellbeing of employees visit

FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING – Connect, Give, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Be Active

Research tells us that if you introduce these five activities into your life, and practice them in a regular and consistent way, overtime you will see positive benefits to your mental health and wellbeing. To find out more visit


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