8 Tips for Easing Back into the Work Week after Summer Vacation

By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC


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After a relaxing summer vacation, when it's time to get back into the swing of work life, it can be hard to get motivated. You may feel that you no longer have something fun to look forward to right around the corner. But just because the vacation is over, it doesn't mean you can't find ways to incorporate fun into your life.


Follow these eight tips to ease back into the work week after your time off:


1.      Plan your time off. Just because you're back at work doesn't mean that you need to make your life all about work. You should still have some free time which you can use efficiently by planning it out. Plan a fun evening for yourself or your family. You can even plan for a weekend trip sometime in the near future.


2.      Take it one day at a time. Sometimes, coming back to work can be stressful because there's so much to do. Your mind may race through all the things you'll need to accomplish over the next few weeks. It can be very overwhelming which may make you long for your vacation even more. Waking up when you wanted, having all your meals prepared, no dishes to do…. sigh! Do not despair.  


  • Instead, focus on one day at a time or even one moment at a time. Your work will get done, no matter how overwhelming it seems. And there will still be time for fun, too.
  • Write out a daily TO DO list with your top 3 goals that you must accomplish by the end of the day.
  • Incorporate little treats into your day. Grab a coffee with a colleague. Take a 10-minute walk. Give yourself permission to take your full lunch break. The last one might not sound like a treat but too many of us work through lunch especially when we are stressed. Taking lunch and not multi-tasking can make a significant difference to your overall wellbeing and help protect you from burning out.


3.      Organize your life on the first day back. When you first get back to work, spend a day "spring cleaning." If you have a desk job, organize your computer files as well as your desk. This can help you feel a sense of accomplishment, while also clearing the clutter.


4.      Do a few half days if you can afford it. If you still have vacation days left, you can ask your employer if it's okay to do a couple of half days to transition yourself back to work. This way, you can start slowly when getting back into the work mentality. You'll still have portions of your day that you can plan for yourself and your family.


5.      Start planning your next trip early. Even if your next trip is far into the future, you can still start dreaming about it. There are many benefits to planning early. When you book a trip early, you can take advantage of early bird discounts. In addition, having something to look forward to can lighten your mood.


6.      Go somewhere special for lunch. On your first day back, plan a special lunch for yourself. You don't have to delve immediately into the usual routine. Pack a special lunch or treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant you love.


7.      Make a vacation scrapbook in your free time. Remember the good times you had on vacation by using your free time to make a scrapbook. You can do this after work or on the weekends. It's a wonderful way to keep your vacation state of mind.


8.      Focus on what you like about your job. If transitioning back to work is turning out to be more difficult that you thought it would be, it might be because you're focusing on the negative aspects of your job. Even people who have their dream jobs will tell you that there are certain things they simply don't like. Strive to have a more positive mentality and focus on what you do like about your job.


Vacation time will be here again before you know it. Learn to enjoy your life no matter what time of year it is. Make the most of each moment by seeking ways to sprinkle that vacation happiness into every day.