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How to beat the back-to-work and lockdown blues

David Price, CEO - Health Assured

Christmas is over. The New Year is in full flow. We’ve all enjoyed our holiday, but now it’s time to knuckle down and get back to the grind. The thought of being back to work for eight hours a day, after time off, can bring many people down. January is often deemed as one of the most depressing working months of the year, even if you love your job, so a certain post-holiday blues is common.

And this year? Well. While we’re all glad to see the back of 2020—an unprecedented year full of challenges and difficulty—there’s no real guarantee that 2021 will solve our problems. With England now in lockdown, COVID still looms large, and it might be a long while until things are truly back to normal. Given this, the traditional January blues could be even harsher this year.

There are ways to get through these blues, though. With a little bit of planning and self-care, you’ll be able to remain positive and make the most of this new year.

Make time for yourself
While it’s tempting to throw yourself back into the usual routine with enthusiasm, it’s a better idea to ease yourself in slowly. Get your tasks done, but make sure you’re allowing yourself time for you.

Take your lunch breaks properly. Get away from the desk, go for a walk, find somewhere quiet and calm down a little. At home, do something you enjoy, don’t spend the evening thinking about tomorrow’s tasks. Use the time to readjust.

If you’re working from home, ensure you delineate ‘work’ and ‘home’ time. Don’t allow the two to become the same thing—it’s important that you’re able to switch off and relax.

Declutter your inbox and your desk
Upon returning to work, you probably had a ton of emails waiting, as well as a load of scraps of paper and notebooks full of notes from last year. You very likely don’t need most of those notes, and a lot of those emails, if you look at them, are probably unimportant.

Book out an afternoon to sort these things out. Once you’ve cleared out your inbox, and thrown out the dead weight of notes you’ll never need again; you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to concentrate on the things that do require your attention.

Eat well and get organised
More than just a new year’s resolution, this should be a constant habit. A good breakfast, snacks that release energy slowly, lots of fresh food and water are ideal for perking up your concentration and getting January out of the way.

Make sure you plan your days out. You don’t need to micromanage your schedule, but a list of goals, deadlines and priorities should be the first and last thing you work on, at the beginning and end of the week. Plan what you need to do, work out when it needs to be done by, and reward yourself a little for each of those you tick off on Friday afternoon.

Use support
Your colleagues are probably suffering from the January blues too—and this year, especially, there could be a lot of loneliness in the air. Not everyone got to see their families over the holiday, after all. Even just a quick call, email or IM to see how your remote working colleagues are doing could make a world of difference.

If you have an employee assistance programme (EAP), this is perfect for helping out —give them a call, and get compassionate help with whatever you’re facing.

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