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Post Vacation Blues

Post vacation blues could be the name of a cool indie band or the title of a hit song, but it's not! It's the more or less official name summarizing the depressive symptoms of workers returning from an extended holiday to the treadmill at work. How do you relax after a holiday and get back to work? Tips and advice from István Tamás Papp, HR specialist.

We all know from experience that we need to rest after the holiday, but besides the "obligatory" tiredness after a summer or winter holiday, there is also restlessness, loss of appetite, anxiety at work, stress, lack of motivation to work, under-performance, confrontations with colleagues without any good reason (not to mention tantrums), or even nostalgic melancholy, inactive brooding at the computer. All can be symptoms of the post-vacation blues, which in a best-case scenario can disappear within a few days, but in worse cases can take up to one and a half times the time off work to get back to normal. But it all starts with a miscalculation - at least according to a related survey by TripAdvisor:

  • 4% of workers are already lamenting the fact that their holiday will end on the first day of vacation;
  • 64% of people stress throughout their holiday that it won't last forever;
  • 19% are stressed on the first day back to work and 43% (!) are stressed throughout the first week simply because they have to go back to work (4% are regularly late for work after their holiday); 
  • 20% admitted that it does not even take a month after the holiday to take sick leave; 
  • 8% also seriously considered quitting their job immediately after returning from leave and looking for a new job.

For the conscientious worker, and even for the less conscientious, the question of what will happen to their job during their leave - whether or not they face it -, is a serious "headache" and a not insignificant - often hidden or concealed - stress factor. „While she is not at work, how will things go on without her? What happens if, while on holiday or skiing, she might be unavailable, even on her mobile phone? What a mess of paperwork, emails and endless meetings will await her when she returns to work?” 

The best way to avoid all of these stressful thoughts and situations before, during and after the holiday is to try to prepare for the post-holiday situation before the vacation. Or if you have already failed to do so, consciously and thoughtfully manage these stress factors, which can be planned for.

Expect the "blues" to exist!

Rather than just calculating how to get the most consecutive days off work by sacrificing the fewest paid days off, let's also calculate and be aware that there are indeed post-vacation "blues". Because if we take this into account, the post-holiday blues won't come as a shock and we'll get over it more easily. 

Choose your holiday start and end dates wisely!

We can radically reduce the stress before, during and after a holiday by choosing the time of our absence (holiday) so that it does not coincide completely with our vacation period. The length of our leave should be a little longer than the length of our break, allowing some time, two or three days, to 'rest' after our return and also to prepare for returning to work. If you think about it, it's not so silly for some employers to expect you to make your summer, or even annual, leave plans in late winter or early spring...

Don't put off a deadline till the first days after your return

Let's think carefully about our tasks and responsibilities during our leave, and especially afterwards. Never put off important or deadline-related matters until after the first days of your holiday. Try to complete them before you go, or if necessary postpone or reschedule them, in such a way that you have enough time to pick up the thread and get back to it when you return.

Let your colleagues know in time when you will be back!

Contact those who will be affected in one way or another by your absence, especially those who might have to take over your tasks and responsibilities during your leave - in addition to colleagues, external customers, partners, suppliers, etc. Inform them (if not otherwise, by writing and setting up an automatic "out of office" message) that you will be on leave. However, the date of your return to work should not be the first day of work, but the date two or three days later, when you will be able to give 100%.  

Gradually start to clear up the work accumulated during your leave

A few days before you return to work, it's a good idea to start reading, sorting and prioritizing your inbox (but leave the replies for the working days), and then, arriving a little earlier on the first few days, gradually settling in, to answer emails, clear the backlog of paperwork, prepare for the necessary meetings.

Let's collect information and get in touch with your replacement as soon as possible!

When we return to work, one of the first things we should do - besides telling about our holiday, showing off the family photo album and handing out the souvenirs - is to get information! Discuss what happened while we were away with our colleagues (our boss) and the colleague who was covering for us. And, of course, remember to thank our replacement very much for doing so.

Come on, let's get back to work!

But now that the summer holiday tsunami has subsided, if you realize that you have missed out on the stress-, panic- and blues-avoiding activities detailed above, and before you get that depressing feeling of "rain after rain", let's get going and think about the end-of-year vacation that is just around the corner. Remember, the other prominent post-holiday blues time, is the day popularly known as Blue Monday, which falls on the start of the third week of the most depressing and least productive month of the year (January)! Let's take the time now to plan our winter days off wisely so that we can get through the cold and dreary winter "blues" with ease!

Oh, and summer holidays - and the post-holiday blues that go with it, of course - will be there next year too…


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