How to beat the back-to-work blues

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
How to beat the back-to-work blues
"We have to find out the real issue underlying the blues in order to overcome them. The underlying problems can be many. Our feelings are most vigorously affected by interpersonal relationships. That is why you should start with examining your work relationships to identify the cause of your work blues."

It is one of the most dreaded feelings we can experience — returning to work after a holiday and although it may make us feel challenged to head back to work, a leading expert says for some it can be a lot harder.

Workplace psychology expert Dr Mary Casey, who runs the health and education organisation Casey Centre, says a surprising number of people feel more than a little anxious about returning to work. She said some can feel stressed, depressed or totally overwhelmed when returning to work.

"Often we do not realise why we feel the way we do until we have had a break and have to return to the negative energy," she said.

"We have to find out the real issue underlying the blues in order to overcome them. The underlying problems can be many. Our feelings are most vigorously affected by interpersonal relationships. That is why you should start with examining your work relationships to identify the cause of your work blues."

Dr Casey has identified eight common work-related problems and strategies to beat the "work" blues.

It's time to revaluate your job satisfaction

Dr Casey says it can often take courage to be honest with ourselves and ask the question of whether we are really happy or not.

"Ask yourself if you're being challenged, and believe in the work you do. If you have been dissatisfied for a year or more, it's could be time to discover what you do like. Learn new skills by embarking on some study, or look for a new role where your existing skills can be applied."

It comes down to who you work with

People who you surround yourself with everyday can have a huge impact on your job satisfaction. Dr Casey suggests developing the appropriate skills to deal with manipulators.

"People only do what they do because they can," Dr Casey said.

"My tips are to control your emotions around any difficult person, set strong boundaries within acceptable limits, don't take anything too personally, remain professional, and channel your attention into areas of your work that will reward you both personally and professionally."

Identify the positive aspects or move on

Dreading returning to work can come down to being stuck in a negative work culture. Dr Casey suggests focusing on what you appreciate about your role.

"Find out what exactly what bothers you. Adopting an attitude of gratitude may be all that you need: identify the positive attributes of your job — for instance a regular income, stability, mentoring and/or work satisfaction. If you can't identify positive aspects, then maybe it is time for a change," Dr Casey says.

Eliminate long hours

It's easy to dread returning to work if you know you will be working long hours all over again so it is time to get that work-life balance back!

"Look into why so much work is being delegated to you. Communicate with management if you need more resources and how it would benefit the business; identify where and how you can delegate to another; or are you doing other people's work for them and it's simply become a habit? Take responsibility and stop it immediately as it is your health that suffers in the long run."

You're seeking career progression but can't get started

It's time to start speaking up for yourself! Allowing colleagues to leapfrog over you can cause job dissatisfaction. It is important to take credit for you own work so that your hard work and ambitions are noticed.

"Remember that you're employed for a reason — you have expertise, skills and experience. Find a course on assertiveness and learn how to confront issues and speak up for yourself."

Confidence is key

It can be hard returning to work if you lack confidence in the workplace.

"If you don't have confidence in yourself, neither will your boss or co-workers, leaving you stagnating in your career growth. Ask yourself is this the deep reason why you dread returning from holidays?" Dr Casey says. She suggests enrolling in a confidence building course if this is an issue for you.

Stand your ground

How we are treated by others can impact our feelings and ability in the workplace. Don't allow people to walk all over you and be clear with how you want to be treated.

"It is up to you to have clear boundaries for yourself as to what is acceptable to you and what is not acceptable. You need to be perfectly clear on how you will be spoken to and treated. If you are not clear, others will walk all over you," Dr Casey says.

It is important to remember that, while most work-related issues can be resolved, if you continue to feel that your situation can not be changed it may be worth seeking a new role in a new work place.

"Everyone deserves job satisfaction and peace of mind. Find a reason or goal to motivate you to change your situation or yourself, and be assertive enough to take action."

Related video: Back to work fashion.

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