The last quarter of 2014 was incredibly busy. It was interesting, fun even, but so busy it made out eyes water. Generally we get fairly quiet in the week or so before Christmas. Not last year. We were flat out to the moment we closed the office on Christmas Eve. I have never it so busy so close to Christmas. We were all looking forward to the break. And when it came it was lovely!
So here we all are, starting to get back into the swing of it. Holidays, however lovely, disrupt our usual patterns of activity and it does take a while to pick up the reins again. Having had the best part of two weeks off for the Christmas period, woken up naturally every day, over-indulged on food and had an extra glass or two of wine to celebrate, the New Year is behind us, the resolutions determined upon (and in some cases broken) and now it’s time to settle back into the routine.
Two weeks of irregular sleep along with the emotions engendered by post-break return to work and the advent of January can leave us feeling a bit out of sync. Even some of the most enthusiastic employees will not be looking forward to the dark mornings, grey daylight and cold, windy weather which come as part of our normal routine. The feeling it brings us has been nicknamed ‘social jet lag’. We’re left feeling sluggish, lacking energy and have difficulty concentrating. It’s all often topped with the seasonal cold bug. You should have seen us last week – we were all suffering. I had to send Lauren home for two days at the start of the week, Kirsty for a day at the end of the week. My symptoms were merely a bad throat (I sounded as husky as Marlene Dietrich but without the accent),headache and a horrible feeling of tiredness so I could work, but I took to my bed each evening in true Victorian style and slept for hours!
Well, we’re all bouncing round again on our usual form, and are starting the year at work as you mean to go on. So here are some tips for getting back into the swing painlessly.
- Get back to a normal routine at work and at home.
- Organise your things for work the night before so you’re not rushing around distractedly in the morning.
- Social jet lag is no excuse for slacking. Your employees will probably being feeling the same so you need to set a good example. Have a bit of social chit chat to start the days, then get on with the work.
- Get to work with a positive mind frame. Grumbling that your time off is over won’t make you feel any better.
- Give yourself some catch-up time, which means giving yourself a little room to breathe. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed about the mountain of things you need to do, it can deter you from even starting. Make a To-Do List (and follow it). Decide where your energy will be best used. Write yourself a to-do list and prioritise. Start by doing something small to ease yourself back in and just to get going. If it’s quick and easy, the momentum can start to build from there.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Many of us tend to drink a little bit more at Christmas. Alcohol causes dehydration which will only make you feel more sluggish. Keep a bottle of water on your desk; if it’s there in front of you, you’re more likely to drink it. Avoid fizzy drinks and those full of sugar; it won’t do anything for your concentration levels.
- Add some exercise into your daily routine, even if it is only a ten minute walk around the block. In our office we wear wireless headsets and I often roam round the office when I’m talking to people on the phone. Movement gets oxygen into the blood and it helps me think. But if you can’t do that, make sure you get out of work at lunchtime, Get some air and light; you really need it at this time of year. Fresh air and raising your heart rate can do wonders for you. Exercise can help you to focus better and sleep better at night (and let’s face it, who hasn’t said they want to lose some weight in the New Year!).
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