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Silvia Forés

When the end of August comes, people begin to talk about post-holiday syndrome, a familiar phenomenon that emerges every year, accompanied by a host of messages, such as preparing to return to school and getting back into the routine. Starting to work again is not the same as going back to school after nearly three months of holidays. Many children will say that they were wanting to see their friends again and begin the school year. However, few employees show the same excitement when the time comes to go back to work.

The new technologies have wormed their way into many workers' holidays, thwarting their plans to disconnect. Not to mention those who work from home and who have not been able to spend any time away from their workplace. Switching off in these circumstances would appear to be impossible.

It was all a little different a few years ago. Office staff would turn their computer off and then turn it on again about three weeks later, praying that they wouldn't find an avalanche of emails. But nowadays, many arrive back knowing full well what they will find in their inbox, because they have been checking it every day.

The new technologies have wormed their way into many workers' holidays, thwarting their plans to disconnect

This year, there is a new development, insofar as some companies have decided to call staff back into the office after many months of working from home, beginning in September. So workers will have to adapt to both a return to work and to their new, or old working environment, depending on how you look at it. In some cases, firms began to combine working from home and working from the office months ago, so in theory the adaptation process will be easier.

At all events, clearly every return will be different, because no two people are alike, so generalisations about post-holiday syndrome cannot be made for all workers. People suffer from this syndrome to varying degrees, and obviously it also depends on the degree of job satisfaction experienced by each worker, which will affect how they approach returning to work.

Some companies have decided to call staff back into the office after many months of working from home

Although each individual will draw on their own resources to make the return less traumatic, here are some highly practical tips:

  1. Go back on a Friday if you don't normally work weekends. A Friday return offers the prospect of working for just one day, sorting out mail and preparing to start up in earnest on the following Monday, having had two more days to relax.
  2. Think about stepping up the rhythm gradually over the first two days. Immediately going from zero to flat out tends to be counter-productive. Is it necessary to put in twelve hours on the first day to make up for all the "lost" time? It would not appear to be the best idea, for the positive effect of the holidays will completely fade away if you arrive home ill-tempered and dispirited at the end of the first day; and realistically, working all those hours will not have been so productive anyway.
  3. Insofar as is possible, return to work with the household chores under control. It is doubly stressful to return to work if you haven't seen to all those typical tasks that await you when you come back from your holidays (filling the fridge, washing clothes, cleaning the house, ironing, etc.). Although it is understandable to want to make the very most of your holidays right up until the last minute, returning with a little time in hand will allow you to organise your personal affairs, and once you have done this, you will be able to concentrate better on your professional tasks.
  4. Don't be too demanding on yourself. After the holidays, people typically make a lot of plans. Immediately, queues form to ask for information about the cost of joining gymnasiums, some people make a radical change in their diet to lose those extra kilos gained during the holidays, while others stress themselves out looking for courses to sign up to. We might have a long list of good intentions, which are all worth thinking about, but taken to the extreme, they can make the return to work more stressful.
  5. Maintain a positive attitude. If you have been able to take holidays, it means you have a job, and at the present time, it implies something else: you are also returning safe and sound in the middle of a pandemic. In short, in some ways feeling the effects of post-holiday syndrome is a privilege.

I would like to end with some words from the great Gabriel García Márquez, who said: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Having now returned to work, I could not agree more.

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