How to cope with the return to work after the holidays in the time of coronavirus?

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Returning to work after a holiday is never easy, but this year, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be even more of an uphill struggle. Here are some tips to avoid the post-holiday blues whether you are remote working or returning to the office. If you are one of the latter, don't forget to follow a series of recommendations to minimise the risk of infection!

Swapping the sound of waves for the sound of horns. Swapping your swimsuit for a shirt. Swapping relaxation for urgency. But above all, setting the alarm clock again. These clues probably give you an idea of what we are going to talk about, especially if you are living through it in the first person. Yes, we are talking about the hard return to work after the holidays. With the COVID-19 pandemic still conditioning our lives, the return to work promises to be more complex.


The return to work affects our state of mind to a greater or lesser extent. Therefore, proper change management is essential to making it as trauma-free as possible. The situation resulting from the coronavirus crisis that has forced strict sanitary measures to be followed in offices in order to minimise infections and has hit the economy hard at global level — and therefore the companies and the work situation of millions of workers — is a new variable to consider.

In a context full of uncertainty resilience can become your best ally. Even Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has asked for it from her fellow citizens to cope with the adversities generated by the health crisis and its economic and social consequences. Good mental hygiene is also fundamental to maintaining our psychological well-being. If despite all this you still notice that something is wrong, you may be suffering from what is known as post holiday blues.


The PSYCOM website, founded by the late Ivan Goldberg, the psychiatrist who created the Goldberg Test for the evaluation of depression, defines post-holiday blues as "the depression that hits a person hard after a holiday period and that, unlike clinical depression, lasts for a short time". He adds, "It shares many of the symptoms characteristic of an anxiety disorder: stress, insomnia, lack of energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, etc."

But why is it so hard for us to get back into a routine? Among the causes, PSYCOM points to "the drop in adrenaline" as the main culprit. But this is only one part of the equation, the other, they point out, is in "the way the brain tries to restore order while adjusting to markedly different experiences, that is, the brain exaggerates the realities of everyday life making the return seem disproportionately more depressing than it really is".

The symptoms of post-holiday blues.#RRSSThe symptoms of post-holiday blues.

 SEE INFOGRAPHIC: The symptoms of post-holiday blues [PDF]


Gear yourself up for it! However much fun and relaxing the holidays may have been, the return to work may be more bearable than you think. At least if you follow some of the tips below:

 Organise your first days

It is just as important not to think about work in the days leading up to your return as it is to establish a plan as soon as you sit in your chair.

 Think positive and motivate yourself

Focus your thoughts on all the good things the new phase can bring you and deal with whatever comes as a challenge.

 Don't neglect your free time

To make your return to routine less abrupt, try to make the most of your free time at the end of the working day.

 Live a healthy life

Even if you have less time for yourself, don't neglect your diet and do sport to reduce stress levels.

 Improve your productivity

During the first few days our performance can be impaired, but there are a number of techniques for improving productivity that can help you.

The above tips can be useful whether you're back in the office or not - the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many companies to embrace remote working, but below we'll go over some specific depending on your workplace:

  • Back to the office. One of the main objectives, individual and collective, during the return to the offices will be to minimise the risk of infection by COVID-19. To achieve this, follow the tips from health authorities: if you have symptoms, do not go to your workplace. Prioritise private transport over public transport, keep a safe distance and avoid crowds inside the office, do not use other colleagues' equipment, wash your hands regularly, cover your cough or sneeze, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, etc. As you spend more time on the street and interact with more people, it is advisable to download the contact tracing apps that governments are developing to control the spread of the virus.
  • Back to remote working. If you are going to carry out your work from home, the advice is different: be disciplined and impose strict schedules and habits, create an orderly, comfortable space that you feel is your own, disconnect and separate work obligations from leisure, get up every so often and stretch your muscles, make the people you live with respect your work space, contact your colleagues to avoid isolation, etc.