How to beat the 'back to work' blues

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Jan 06 2014 11:56 AM | Updated as of Jan 08 2014 10:54 PM

Illustration by Angela Salano for

MANILA, Philippines - The holidays are over. Now it's back to the daily grind, the traffic jams, MRT crowds, hundreds of emails and seemingly endless piles of work.

If you're getting a headache just thinking about going to work after a long holiday, here are 7 tips on how to beat the 'back-to-work' blues:

1. Get moving.

When your alarm goes off, it is very tempting to just keep hitting the "snooze" button. But instead of getting 5 minutes of extra sleep, why don't you jump out of bed and do a quick workout.

An early morning exercise of about 20 minutes can lift your mood for the rest of the day. A study at the University of Vermont showed that moderate aerobic exercise can improve one's mood for up to 12 hours.

2. Organize your workspace.

Some studies have shown having a messy desk inspires creativity, but it may also affect perception of your professionalism. Why don't you clear some of the clutter on your desk? Throw out your old calendar, and bring out the new one. Check the pile of papers on your desk and decide which can be thrown away and which should be kept.

To make your office space a little more fun, perk it up with family photos, colorful bins, flowers or even a small plant. Try using colorful or cute post-its, so your PC won't be covered with boring yellow notes.

3. Make a 'to-do' list.

It's alright to feel overwhelmed with the emails and tasks that have piled up during the holidays. But don't try to tackle all these things at the same time.

Prioritize your tasks. Spend 10 minutes cleaning your email inbox. Don't try to reply to every email. If you missed an important email, you are bound to receive a follow-up email.

Try to make a short list of tasks that can be done within the day. After tackling these, make a list of long-term projects that you need to do in the next few weeks.

4. Review your job.

Are you unhappy with your job? Don't make hasty decisions and file a resignation letter. Take some time to re-evaluate your job, and your career goals.

Does your job still challenge you? Is it fulfilling or frustrating? Talk to your boss about your concerns, particularly your long-term goals.

If you're bored with the same old tasks, think of a new project at work that can give you a fresh challenge. This can also show your boss that you have a pro-active, ambitious attitude for the new year.

Also explore the possibility of enrolling in some advanced courses related to your work or pursue an MBA degree. You may find that investing in yourself will reap rewards in the long run.

5. Practice "gratitude".

When you're stressed and tired, it's easy to fall under a cloud of gloom and get depressed. Before you think of finding a new job, why don't you take a few minutes to think of some things that you should be grateful for.

In the book "The How of Happiness", author Sonja Lyubomirsky cited a study at the University of Pennsylvania that showed that a single happiness-enhancing strategy is effective in lifting depression.

The strategy: Write down three good things that happened every day.

"People who are consistently grateful have been found to be relatively happier, more energetic, and more hopeful... The more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious or neurotic," Lyubomirsky said.

6. Have fun after work

Squeeze in some time to "bond" with colleagues, whether just having a coffee break or enjoying drinks. It's a great way to de-stress, as long as you avoid talking about work.

The new year is also a good excuse to try new activities. Want to learn to scuba dive or rock climb? Start looking for classes after work or during the weekends.

On the weekends, arrange fun activities with friends and family - whether it's checking out a new restaurant, going to the new "Scream Park" or finding good deals at the many post-Christmas sales at the malls.

7. Plan your next vacation.

Get started planning your next vacation. Check the calendar for this year's holidays and long weekends, coordinate your vacation days with your friends, and keep an eye out for airlines' promo fares and great hotel deals.

Looking forward to doing something fun in the next few months will make you more motivated at work.