Remote work: 5 tips to beat post-holiday blues

Struggling to find motivation or get back into the swing of things post holiday break? Use these tips to re-engage purposefully
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The holiday is over. Your PTO is over. Many experience what’s called "post-holiday blues" after the new year when we’re returning to our jobs. This sharp transition can leave many of us feeling consumed and unadjusted.

Post-holiday blues may result in tiredness, exhaustion, stronger sense of boredom, and in some cases, depression. Here are five practical tips leaders can use to overcome the post-holiday blues.

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1. Carve out time to reacquaint yourself with your purpose

You've probably already made your new year resolution, but we can lose ourselves in daily minutia when we first return to work. Try to reacquaint yourself with the purpose.

When you started your job, did the big picture excite you? Did you envision the person whose illness you’d help cure? Or the time people would save using your product? After some time, we can lose sight of what we first loved and trade it for exhaustion. Strategize how you’ll keep your purpose front of mind. Slow down enough to recognize and celebrate accomplishments and milestones.

Leaders, do this with employees too. Recognizing a job well done and tying it to the company purpose will keep folks engaged and motivated fresh out of the holiday season.

2. Build your boundaries especially in times of remote-work

This is especially important during COVID, as kitchen tables double as home offices. When does work end and home life begin?

We’ve lost our forced boundaries, e.g. commute time, school drop-offs, the gym. COVID will pass, forced boundaries will resume, yet you may still struggle. Is it difficult saying “no” to others? Is 24/7 your average work week? If you’re not careful, what you think you own starts owning you. Schedule specific start/end times for work, breaks, meals, connecting with family and friends, and self-care.

3. Upgrade your time management

Once we’re past the first week of January, we can start losing control of our calendars and go from meeting to meeting without a break. Look at your calendar for the upcoming month, answer these questions, and adjust accordingly:

  • How many meetings do you have? How many are regularly scheduled?
  • When do you get your work done?
  • Which meetings can you stop attending? Hint: Delegate some to your employees.
  • Can meetings be shortened and/or less frequent?
  • Who should be in the meetings?
  • Are agendas sent in advance to improve meeting productivity and efficiency?
  • How are meeting attendees held accountable for next steps?

4. Communicate your needs

Have you ever witnessed someone blow up over something that didn’t seem to warrant that strong of a reaction? This can occur when we’ve been stuffing our needs and feelings only to become pressure cookers that blow off steam at inopportune times.

Reasons for doing so often include: “I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t do it;” “I didn’t want to disappoint anyone;” “My team is busy. I didn’t want to add to their plate.” If you can’t identify your needs right away, become aware of when frustration and exhaustion are building. Ask what is causing it, then develop possible solutions.

Gather the strength to communicate your needs and solutions to the team (try using the ABC Formula). Don’t fear what they’ll think. Most of the time we are our own harshest critics. You might be surprised by how much closer your vulnerability can bring you to people.

5. Take a deep breath

If the post-holiday blues have led to severe depression or anxiety, know that you are not alone. Whether you seek professional help or support from family and friends, always keep in mind that your needs are valid, and it’s okay to take a pause. At moments of tiredness or exhaustion, take a deep breath, and try our favorite mantras from loving-kindness meditation:

With every breath, I feel myself relaxing.

I have control over how I feel, and I choose to feel at peace.

I give myself permission to let go of what no longer serves me.

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Kate Yuan is a startup consultant with a focus on go-to-market strategies and enterprise sales. She has worked with startups in four continents and 30+ countries as an investor, advisor, and operator. Most recently, she was the Operating Partner at Hemi Ventures, an early-stage fund investing in mobility, biotech and enterprise AI sectors.
Lori Dernavich is a Leadership Development Advisor with two decades of experience in advising high tech, deep tech, and life sciences executives. She works with Fortune 500 leaders and startup founders to develop the leadership skills they and their organizations need to be successful.

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