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9 Ways To Not Dread Returning To Work After A Holiday

Written by: Shona Hirons, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Ask yourself these questions:

  • How long was your break?

  • Were you able to fully switch off from work?

  • Did you check your work emails?

  • Did you plan before you left?

The longer you take off, the harder it can feel returning to work. This is quite normal. If the break is less than a week, the dread may indicate that you genuinely need more time off, especially if you're showing signs of burnout.

When I was burnt out, I'd dread each and every weekend. I’d get to a Friday afternoon and already worry what I would be returning to on Monday. It also affected those around me, because I never wanted to go out and socialise and I was miserable and tired all weekend.

When I had a holiday booked, I’d be counting down the days until it came, but working myself to the bone in the weeks before and after just so I could get away. I’d usually find that I’d become unwell as soon as I stopped, probably because I’d been in flight or flight mode for so long.

This is a concern if you're feeling that way. A weekend should feel like a refreshing change of pace, not like an all-out escape from a horrible alternative.

A holiday should be one for making happy memories that you can look back over and remember fondly. Many of the clients I speak to dread taking time off, because they’re worried what they will return to. Let me tell you about client A. When I first spoke with her earlier in the year, she was very stressed, working long hours, had no boundaries between work and home life and thought she could never take a break from work, because no-body would be able to pick up her work when she was off. The truth is, a lot of this was down to her own thoughts. I worked with her on setting boundaries and communicating with her team. I made her understand that if she never took a break and fully switched-off, she was at the risk of burning out. I caught up with her recently and she had just returned from a ten-day holiday with her partner and she looked so happy and recharged.

Here’s what I recommend you do:

  1. Turn off work notifications for the whole break, and even consider deleting some of the apps.

  2. Discuss holidays with your team. Plan ahead and talk about issues. Hold brainstorming meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page.

  3. Plan a handover and inform clients that you will be out of the office during the dates that you plan to take your leave. Provide a contact for any urgent matters.

  4. If you do need to check on any work, maybe because you work for yourself and have no employees, schedule a sociable time during the day and commit to no more than an hour.

  5. Alternatively, consider using a Virtual Assistant. Many people think it is too expensive, but you reap the rewards and they may not be as expensive as you thought. My Virtual Assistant prepares all my marketing, manages my emails and meetings for me when I go away.

  6. Encourage your team to take time off and be supportive of this. Depending on the size of your business, it may only be reasonable to have one person off at a time, but this is where the brainstorming meetings are effective.

  7. On the first day back, consider not allocating any new work. Instead, spend the morning, or the whole day catching up on admin.

  8. Be prepared for lots of emails in your inbox, but don’t get overwhelmed by this. Many of them will be junk and can be deleted. Only add the crucial ones to your to-do list.

  9. On day one, do not fill your to-do list. Start with six work-related tasks and four micro-breaks. It will become even once you have caught up.

If you want a truly relaxing holiday this summer and feel like you’ve had a good break, or you need some help managing your teams with this, get in touch to see how I can help. What do you do to ensure you can fully switch-off from work?

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Shona Hirons, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Shona Hirons is an award-winning global Resilience and Burnout Coach. A breakdown from work-related stress, which led to a life-changing accident, requiring major facial reconstructive surgery and brain damage, gave her a big wake-up call. During her recovery, she went on a journey of self-discovery to rebuild her resilience, consider her values and achieve all the things she was told she couldn't do. Shona has developed strategies to boost her resilience, and now helps others to do the same. She is the CEO of Mindset in Motion, and a leader in corporate wellbeing, working with corporate clients in over 195 countries. Her mission: To improve the well-being of people and businesses throughout the world.



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