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How to beat the back to work blues

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Monday, 7 January 2019, 3:25PM

As thousands of Kiwis face the back-to-work dread today, experts are offering some simple advice to survive the week and "keep the holiday feeling going".

As the working year begins and thoughts of sun, sand and holidays recede it is easy to suffer the back to work blues, but on the bright side Northland, Auckland and Wellington all have anniversary days in the next three weeks, followed closely by Waitangi Day on February 6.

Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland, of Victoria University of Wellington, says the feeling of dread often felt in the last few days of the holiday is normal.

"Lots of people talk about it and I have personally experienced it," he said.

"It's that natural return-to-work drop in mood."

He suggested easing back into the work year, if possible, by starting out on reduced hours for a few days.

"Maybe have a couple of long weekends - Auckland and Wellington have anniversary weekends in January; that helps keep the holiday feeling going."

Professor Helena Cooper-Thomas, an Auckland University of Technology expert in occupational psychology, said that while feeling a little low on returning to work was common, many other people loved getting back to work.

"Some people will be energised by the break and raring to go."


She suggested that people inclined to feel anxious about their job might think about what they hoped to achieve at work in the coming year, consider learning a new work skill, or seek a promotion.


"That can be quite motivational, to have some goals you set yourself."

The Mental Health Foundation's advice on how to beat the back-to-work blues includes; planning your next holiday, reserving at least 15 minutes a day to do something you enjoy, and planning fun activities with friends and family in the sunny evenings of summertime.

It also encourages people to be organised - as it reduces stress, and adopt the five ways to wellbeing - connect, give, take notice, be active and keep learning.

It's been a warm and dry start to the New Year so far, and high pressure is expected to dominate the weather around New Zealand during January - leading to drier than average conditions for most.

Ritashya Dutt, 8, finds respite from the hot weather at a fountain in downtown Tauranga. Photo / Alan Gibson


This is especially true during the first two weeks of the month with only transient rainfall for the southwest of the South Island.


"Expect some cloudier and windier periods as well as some wetter weather for those in southern and western areas," MetService meteorologist Tui McInnes said.

But added, "if you're in the upper half of the North Island, the outlook for the week is looking mighty fine!"

This week there are a few hotspots around with a number of centres expected to reach the high twenties and even the low thirties, he said.

The warmth and long hours of daylight mean you can still go for fish and chips at the beach after work, enjoy an early evening swim or a stroll through the park.

There are also plenty of events on this month to keep you in the summer groove.

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