Kerikeri-based counsellor Christine Macfarlane suggests taking the pressure off yourself by doing one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking. Photo / Jenny Ling
Face up to reality, plan another holiday and take lots of mini-breaks throughout the year.
That’s the advice from two Northland counsellors and a life coach on how to handle the year ahead as many
of us head back to work following a long summer break.
It can be hard to get back to the daily grind at the best of times, the experts say, and they all agree the bad weather of late has left people feeling short-changed of their holidays.
Day after day of rain, humidity and even a tropical cyclone completely thwarted plans of long days in the sun for those living in and visiting Northland.
Kerikeri life coach Maria Quayle-Guppy, from Reset Mindset, said morale was “super low” among holidaymakers due to all the bad weather.
“People feel they haven’t had their summer holiday.”
Quayle-Guppy suggests making the most of any sunny days that crop up in the coming weekends while planning for rainy-day options.
Break down the daunting 12-month calendar into ‘mini-blocks’ – there are still many long weekends to look forward to.
Plan to do something different every couple of months, explore your region or local area and take mini-breaks, which don’t have to be expensive.
“Have a think now before the next long weekend… we may have settled weather by then.
“People still need to have a rainy-day option so they can make the most of it either way.
“There are plenty of things that can still be done, even if the weather is a bit flat.
“Take advantage of those really good days. It’s amazing how one good day in the sun makes you feel so much better.”
The first day back at the office can fill workers with dread, which Quayle-Guppy suggests handling by managing expectations of how you “should” feel and perform.
“Do what you can do”, is her motto.
“Rather than expecting to roar into a busy work week and kick off feeling refreshed, if you’re feeling flat, still show up.
“Because if you’re feeling that, you can’t click your fingers and feel great.
“You can still knock off one task, have that sense of accomplishment and build on that.
“Try to knock off a phone conversation or a networking conversation or something […] and just do it, because that kickstarts your motivation.”
Even though 2023 is predicted to be tough, with a gloomy economic outlook, don’t write it off, Quayle-Guppy said.
“It’s a great way of trying to figure out what we can do rather than what we can’t do.
“It doesn’t need to be big things, just little wins and a sense of achievement.
“It’s all about lifting morale and giving hope.”
Kerikeri counsellor Deryl Rollinson, of Advanced Counselling, advises people heading back to work to “focus on the positive and be in the moment”.
“That’s the key – if you stay in this moment, you’re not running into the future or past and wishing it were different.
“When we wish it were different, it’s a distraction from this moment.
“We’re arguing with reality, and the reality is being back at work.”
Rollinson’s tips for staying in the moment include being present at your desk, being aware of your senses, physically and emotionally, and noticing what’s around you.
People experience a “small loss” after being on holiday, she said.
“It’s been a terrible summer, but there is still loss when you go back to work and when you’ve only had one beautiful week.
“It’s the mind that feeds depression. Keep the mind on this moment, it helps you readjust.
“The reality is here and now. Be with your senses and accept what is.”
Finding time to connect with others during the week is also important, especially if you’re a social person or you’re working from home, Rollinson said.
“Meet for a coffee, mix with people that give you that connection.
“Make the effort to go out and be in society in any little way. You can do it even for half an hour.
“Getting up and moving your body regularly – especially if you’re feeling tired or low – helps release endorphins, and something lifts.”
As for avoiding burnout this year, Rollinson said it’s important to listen to our bodies, and acknowledge uncomfortable feelings like anger or sadness.
“Often with burnout, we override this and push ourselves to go that bit further.
“Burnout happens when we’re pushing ourselves and not listening to what the body needs.
“If you can tune into your body rather than your mind, that makes the difference.”
Christine Macfarlane, a counsellor at MindfulMe, recommends booking another holiday to have something to look forward to.
“It’s good for some people to have short breaks – not necessarily to have a two-month holiday, but have a long weekend, or on a long weekend, add a couple of days to it to have a good break.
“Be strategic [with] your time off. Plan in advance.”
Even though this holiday was cut short by wild weather, Macfarlane suggests focusing on the positive moments that may have happened, such as catching up with family or those few sunny days at the beach.
“If you’re going back to the office, print out a photo of something that reminds you of that good time.
“It’s like patting a pet or seeing photos of baby animals or children… that helps our brain to release oxytocin, the chemical in our brain you get with closeness or intimacy.”
Macfarlane suggests planning healthy activities and blocking out some “me time” in the diary for the gym, yoga or a walk with a friend.
Avoid burnout by making bite-sized goals that fit into bigger goals, writing them down and reviewing them after a couple of months.
Take the pressure off yourself by doing one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking, and pause notifications on emails and social media.
“Our world is so busy, and there are high expectations to achieve a lot,” Macfarlane said.
“There is an expectation to do more in a workday nowadays.
“We do it to ourselves, but our bosses and organisations are expecting a lot more than ever before.
“Notice your internal critic, and try not to over-schedule or expect too much of yourself.
“If we’re mean to ourselves, that causes stress and burnout.”
Doing something positive during lunch breaks, like listening to calming music or taking a walk outside is also important, Macfarlane said.
“Removing yourself from the computer and office is vital – especially in the summer, when the sun is shining.
“Utilise the light after work for going for a walk on the beach or doing something playful and active, which helps with energy.
“We need to get back into a routine; it can take a month to get back to feeling normal again at work.”
How to beat the back-to-work blues
- Plan for long weekends
- Plan another holiday
- Schedule in “me time” during the week
- Tick off one task at a time
- Be present and accept reality
- Connect with friends, family and work mates
- Set bite-sized goals