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Beat the Post-Summer Blues: Simple Tips to Ease Back to Work
I love the month of September. It reminds me of all those years ago when the summer blues would start, and summer was coming to an end and my mother, and I would go back-to-school shopping. I loved getting new clothes for school, but my favorite thing was picking out all the new school supplies. It felt like a new beginning, a fresh start!
I still feel that way! I view the month of September almost like January 1 but without all the expectations and pressure. It’s a wonderful time to evaluate where you are now, and what goals you’d like to set for yourself for the upcoming year.
Simple Tips to Ease Back to Work
For many working women, being able to take time off during the summer can be a double-edged sword. For some, it feels like a welcome opportunity to reset and enjoy time off with family and friends. But for others, taking time away from work brings up feelings of dread as they anticipate returning to a huge mountain of unanswered emails and tedious tasks, creating an overwhelming feeling of being behind before they even begin.
I have found that, with some careful planning, the return to full-time work can be accomplished with ease—and can even result in heightened productivity if you bring to it a renewed sense of commitment and enthusiasm.
Your mindset greatly influences your return to the workplace.
How you spend the last few days of your summer holiday sets the tone for the coming weeks and months. Take the time to make sure that you are squeezing out every single moment of joy possible by being present and grateful for the time you had away from work and/or the children’s school schedule and activities.
Make sure that you are taking time to absorb the summer vibes of refreshment, replenishment, recharging, and relaxation, especially when the summer blues hit. Make the decision before you return to work that you will bring this same sense of rejuvenation back to your workplace.
At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge any feelings of melancholy that the summer blues are starting, and vacation is coming to a close. It is always best to allow your feelings to pass through you so that you can get to the feelings that help you create what you may want: motivation, focus, and desire in your “real life.”
What has worked best for my clients and myself is to get organized ahead of time.
Screeching in the day before school begins or work resumes are surefire ways of setting yourself up for problems. If possible, plan your return a few days in advance so that you can get a head-start on cleaning out your inbox, unpacking, and creating a sense of order. Taking a few days as transition time will help you ease into your first work week.
Make a to-do list along with an estimate of how long it will take you to accomplish each task and schedule each task accordingly by putting it on your calendar. This will give you a sense of relief by providing tangible evidence that you are organized. Plus, crossing things off your list feels very satisfying!
September is a wonderful time to think about setting new goals.
Goals that are small, attainable, measurable, and specific are best. For example, last year I knew that I wanted to write a book, but the thought of writing 150 pages or 80,000 words seemed impossible. So, I broke it down into manageable chunks. I determined that each month I would need to write approximately 7,000 words (2,000 words per week, or approximately 300 words per day). I knew I could do that! Less than a year later, I completed the first draft of my book. You too, can take what may feel like an impossible goal and make it possible by breaking it into micro-steps that lead to macro results.
What is your goal for the year? How can you break it down into manageable chunks?
Think about what you can accomplish each quarter, each month, and each week, as well as what you’d need to do daily. Breaking your goal down into small steps is essential to ensure you avoid burnout and being overwhelmed.
As an empty-nest life coach, I am always encouraging my clients to take small actions that ultimately lead to big change. For example, when my client Sarah shared with me that ever since her kids went off to college, she wanted to get in better shape. This is a pretty common goal among empty-nest moms.
Once we determined where Sarah was when it came to her current nutrition and exercise habits (she admitted she ate like a teenage boy and exercised like a sloth—her words, not mine), I suggested that she commit to walking 10 minutes a day. This sounded so manageable that she doubted it would create any significant change. But since 10 minutes a day equals 70 minutes in a week, it was still more walking than she was currently doing, and she easily lost two pounds. Next, we looked at her hydration. She surmised she was drinking two to three cups of coffee a day and maybe one or two glasses of water, in addition to one to two glasses of wine in the evening. I suggested that she drink four ounces of water or herbal tea, every two hours. By the end of the first day, she had consumed approximately 24 oz of water and told me she felt more alert and energized, and actually wasn’t as hungry as she had been in the past.
As you wind down this summer, think about what goals might improve your overall life.
It’s always important to know the WHY behind your goals too. Why do you believe a particular goal would improve your life? How will you feel when you’ve accomplished this goal? Lean into that feeling; that’s your beacon of inspiration.
If you are having trouble coming up with a goal, come up with three simple tasks that you will accomplish. The key is to ease yourself back into your work life with tiny tasks that will give you easy wins, which will lead to a feeling of accomplishment versus overwhelm. These can include chores that need to be done around the house as well. You might be surprised by how accomplished a well-organized closet or junk drawer makes you feel.
As a writer, another trick I use is to leave myself with breadcrumbs so that I’m not facing a blank page every time I come back to the computer. If I am in the middle of writing a chapter, for example, I don’t complete it. I leave off in the middle so that I have an easy entry point when I start back up the next day. The same approach can work well as you ease back into a work schedule. If you have client work to do, begin by outlining emails so that when you return the next morning, they’re already halfway to completion. You can also use this tactic to organize your work week. Do a brain dump at night on a legal pad, and the next day, peruse your list of things to do and appointments to make and plug them into your calendar.
If you’re not feeling inspired about the prospect of tackling a project, try taking a 20-minute walk. Don’t get on your phone or listen to a podcast or music. Simply be in the moment, noticing the colors, the smells, and the sounds. Inspiration is only available when we are open to receiving it. Taking time out in our day to create space so that we are aligned with our values and goals will help to ensure that we are living our life on purpose.
About the Author
Name: Allie Hill
Professional Title: Empty-Nest Expert
Bio: Allie Hill is a Writer, Speaker, and Coach. She helps women feel empowered as they navigate times of transition, to find new meaning and fulfillment in life. Allie helps Empty-Nest Moms redefine their purpose after hanging up their 24/7 mom hat. Look for her forthcoming book, Beyond the Nest: A Guide to Creating a purpose-filled life as an empty-nester. (Oct 2023)
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