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Holiday Blues – A Short Term State of Mind… Or Time To Rethink You Career?

  • July 25, 2023

A report at the beginning of the year highlighted that, despite the very real economic squeeze, people are spending more on holidays than ever before. And, whilst the average British holidaymaker is expected to spend an average of £2,115 on foreign breaks this summer – up 48% from an average of £1,425 last year, it’s clear that taking a well-earned break to recharge, relax, and refresh the mind is still a priority for many.

Much is written about how to disconnect from work when on holiday – not least as the pandemic is cited as kick-starting the so-called ‘grind culture’ where productivity apps like Slack and Zoom make it all the more difficult to truly switch off.

And, whilst Physicians and academics alike have rightly focus on practices that can help holidaymakers work through their stress, and focus on the impact of burnout – inevitably, this down time may in fact focus your attention on your more general career path, future goals and aspirations, and whether these are on track.

According to a study by HR analytics business, Visier, 20% of the respondents admitted that they actually quit their current role once they came back from holiday, and 44% had given it serious thought. A further 12% even used their time off to find another job.

Whilst returning from a holiday may foster a case of the ‘post holiday blues’ as you reminisce about quality time with friends and family – the question is, how do you tell the difference between a standard case of short-term sadness and a real need to refocus and reassess you career?

Are you dreading the return to work as your holiday comes to an end?

As you prepare to get back into the mindset of work as your holiday comes to an end, it’s common to feel drained and anxious -but this doesn’t necessarily mean you hate your job.

Holidays and travel allow us to escape the working world’s stresses and explore other passions. Returning to reality after experiencing so much freedom can be difficult.

Post-holiday blues are a normal response to leaving behind your fun-filled and carefree holiday life. The phenomenon doesn’t just happen following a holiday either; it’s also common around the festive season and after any long breaks from work. Even a fun-filled weekend doing something you love can leave you with some foreboding for the busy week ahead.

How to handle holiday blues

If your concerns about returning to work are based largely on the desire to stay sitting by the pool for a little longer, the chances are your post-holiday blues are just that. Temporary, short-lived, and incredibly common with around 57% of Brits say they feel down when returning to work.

The good news is, if you’re still relatively happy in your role, this feeling of sadness will dissipate with time.

There are always worthwhile steps to take periodically in your career to asses if you are still on the right-track – and doing so after a holiday or extended break, can certainly help to assess where things stand:

1. Setting some goals

Start establishing actionable short-term goals as part of your preparation for your return to work. This will help to keep your mind focused on positive, realistic outcomes and get you moving mentally (and potentially physically) towards them.

Look at your career plan and where you were heading before your holiday (a career checklist can prove to be a great aid here). If you were thinking of pursuing a promotion in your current business, begin planning steps for how you can you can show your employers you are the candidate to consider. Reviewing your objectives and establishing your priorities will take your mind off any negative post-holiday feelings, give you a sense of empowerment and bring a fresh resolve that can help you dive back into your career.

Working out where you are and where you are heading in your career isn’t just something you’ll do when you’re fresh out of college or upon qualification either. The best industry leaders frequently refresh and update their strategies based on their changing priorities, deeper evaluations of the marketplace, and a growing understanding of their sector.

The economic and socio-political backdrop may also influence career planning, as well as other more-permanent ‘trends’ such as a seismic shift towards flexible, home, and remote working patterns that have meant people are reassessing how (and where) they work too.

Finding time (whether that’s on your holiday or when you’re back at your desk) is vital to put a stake in the ground and take stock of the real reasons why you may be feeling discontentment.

2. Adjusting your mindset

Sometimes it’s hard to snap out of your post-holiday blues when you’re constantly reminiscing about your break – especially when you come back to a busy inbox, a diary full of meetings, and projects to pick back up and run with as part of a busy company.

A good way to flip the script is to start focusing on what you enjoy about your role. Remind yourself of the things you look forward to when you’re at work, whether connecting with colleagues or delighting clients.

And, if you were feeling overwhelmed or overworked before your time away, be mindful of your work hours and try to maintain a healthy work-life balance upon your return.

3. Preparing for your return

Where possible, a ‘buffer day’ in between your holiday ending and the next working day is a sound technique to catch up on emails, get a sense of what the week ahead is likely to entail, and to manage your diary effectively before you hit the office or turn your laptop on.

Create a to-do list and prioritise tasks based on urgency and importance. This will help you focus on what needs to be done first and prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Even creating a little time to physically unpack, rest, and mentally prepare for the return to the office can help during this transition and (hopefully) get you back on track.

Is it more than holiday blues?

Holiday blues are undoubtedly an unpleasant experience affecting even the most dedicated employees. However, they usually disappear on their own once you’re back doing work that you enjoy and get satisfaction from.

If however you find your negative feelings linger or go deeper than simply missing your holiday, simply put, there may be a more significant issue at play.

If you can’t seem to shake the holiday blues with the strategies above, ask yourself:

  • Are your concerns connected to your holiday at all – or is the unhappiness connected to the job itself?

If you’re constantly struggling with a difficult manager, feel unfulfilled in your job at any time of year, or dread the tasks you do each day, this is a sign you may need a change of scenery – professionally speaking of course.

A good way to determine whether you’re suffering from holiday blues, or struggling in the wrong position, is to look at your career plan. Are you making progress towards your targets? Can you see room for growth in your current company, and do you know how you will take the next step? If you feel trapped and unsatisfied in your current position and you’re not making any progress, you may need to look for another role. 

Wherever you are in your career journey, i’ts a good idea to periodically analyse your current position depending on where you want to be, even if that’s as you return from a break away. When you dig a little deeper, is everything on track and working out as you expected? Or do you need to make some changes in order to meet your goals?

A career checklist can help here – helping you to remember the reasons you got into your current role in the first place,

It will focus on your attention on answering questions such as:

  • Do you fit in with your company’s culture?
  • Do you have a good working relationship with your colleagues and managers?
  • Is your remuneration and benefits package where it needs to be (and fair for your work and achievements)?

If your current role or company is not fulfilling you in the way you had hoped, or if the pace has slowed down recently, it could be a sign that you need to start making some big career decisions.

Time for a career change?

If you decide post-holiday blues aren’t the cause of your workplace issues, then you have a few options. You can consider speaking to your manager about ways to make your role more appealing. For instance, maybe you can change your schedule or explore the potential of hybrid and remote work.

If you can’t see a way to improve your working life, or if you are hitting the proverbial dead end when raising any issues or concerns with your current employer, seeking a new role may be the viable option to ensure your career path stays on track

The first step, of course, is to decide whether to go it alone and spend time researching opportunities in the market, your region, and your practice area and apply to vacancies advertised.

The alternative is to enlist the help of a reputable recruitment specialist who will search the market on your behalf, and present you with (often exclusive) roles that are designed to be the absolute best ‘fit’ for you and your requirements from your next employer.

In Conclusion

Getting the work-life balance right is key to general happiness and satisfaction both in your role as an employee, and as an individual. Holidays – or more specifically, time away from work plays a huge part in this for both your mental and physical health, and finding time to switch off completely from the day job will only help you be more focused upon your return.

Taking time off from work can give you the space you need to learn about yourself , your passions, your interests, and your career – however much you are adamant that the complete switch-off will be just that.

As the summer holidays take hold here in the UK, many individuals will no doubt experience these so-called holiday blues over the coming weeks and months. And, whilst this is completely normal and expected – recognising when this may be something more is key.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, and Engineering appointments, on a permanent basis.

If you are building your existing team or looking for your next career move, we can help. And, if you are currently employed, you can be assured of complete confidentiality, professionalism, and honesty throughout the process – as standard.

Click here to speak to one of our experienced specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.

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