Bummer! … the 4th January is the day many people go back to working having taken time off over Christmas and New Year… like so many, you may be down in the dumps contemplating getting back into the routine of the rush-hour commute to work, taking the children to school …

So what causes the back to work blues?

A recent English survey suggests only 1 in 4 employees returns to work after a holiday feeling refreshed and 80% of workers suffer varying signs and symptoms of back to work blues, or what psychologists have now coined PHT – Post Holiday Tension. What causes the feelings that your are experiencing? – your thoughts, your thinking, which in turns affects your body – hence some people describe a panicky feeling in their gut, a miserable feeing of being down in the dumps, feeling lethargic, unable to concentrate (as I’m writing ‘lethargic’ I’m reminded of the small child that used to drag her feet as she walk into the school gates having woken up on the first day back to school and said – ‘Mum, do I have to go to school?’ – the answer to which of course she knew!) … the semi-good news is that you’re not alone – the even better news is that, if you want to, you can change how your feel, by changing your thinking (I know it’s a toughie after the lovely holiday season, but time for some tough love – it’s a choice that you need to make). What you focus on, affects your thinking, and your thoughts affect how you feel.

Let’s consider some examples of things that might be effecting our thinking today …..  the back to work blues could be about fear (to a lesser or greater extent) – e.g. ‘what will be sat in my inbox when I return?’ -for others the thought of returning to work for/with someone or on something that we perhaps find intimidating can lead us into inner mind chatter (worry or anxiety are more common than you might think – financial, performance, ‘being found out’ etc.). Perhaps some experience sadness that they are saying goodbye (for now) to the increased amount of quality family time they’ve experienced. Maybe the break form work has meant that you’ve contemplated how much you dislike your job. Maybe the holiday season has been so full on for you, that you feel like your ‘running’ back into work having not had an opportunity to be fully rested. Maybe you just don’t like the idea of being ‘controlled’ and are missing the freedom that the holiday season gave you. There are others examples. If any of these apply to you, be kind to yourself – know you are not on your own, and know that by learning to change this thinking, you can change how you feel. Often some people refer to some or a cluster of these emotions as feeling like a victim – whilst only a label, in NLP terms we call this being ‘at the effect side of something else’. Whilst there are logical and understandable reasons, for the feelings – I’d like to point out these types of negative emotions can potentially harm the body (particularly if experienced over a pro-longed period of time) – so what do you want to do about it?

So, how do we take action?

Remember, the blues are temporary. In terms of short term fixes you can use today – if you’ve had an NLP training you know the tools and techniques that we can use to shift our emotional state in an instant (e.g. through anchoring), changing our focus, playing around with some submodalities (here’s one of my tips – if ever I feel my stress levels rising, I pop my eyes to the quadrant where I know there is a picture of one of the most amazing trips abroad I’ve ever had that always make me smile and my shoulders start to drop – that always works for me – even if you’ve not had any NLP training – try closing your eyes and remembering something that made you smile or laugh – that’s bound to lift your mood!)

In terms of getting closer to the root of the issue, the key is to get ourselves to the ’cause side’ of what we refer to within NLP as the cause/effect equation:- how do we do this – we ask ourselves some great questions to move ourselves (metaphorically). Notice the thoughts in your mind, and ponder what’s actually behind that – the surface problem is not normally the real problem – typically there is something behind it – try to track it back and ask yourself what can I learn from this, the learnings of which will allow me to let go of this unhelpful or negative emotion (you are in essence asking your unconscious mind – ask the question and wait – see what pops into your head – you might surprise yourself!). If you’ve got an NLP coach you can get them to help you work at the unconscious level with the tools and techniques we have in our tool kit to change your thinking (you don’t need to be clever to learn to use NLP, just have an open mind and be curious).

… my overriding key to beating the blue… make a decision

Remember, you have the power to decide- a lot of people sometimes feel helpless, like they have noNLP Cardiff choice – or worse they have only 2 options – which creates a dilemma (e.g. I can stay in my job as it is, or I can leave and get another). Whilst one of them may be right for you, there are always more than 2 choices – you just have to think creatively (and a coach can help you do this). You should never underestimate the power of making a decision – sometimes that’s all that is needed to alleviate the feelings (there are always good and less appealing implications in any decision I’ve ever made – but the relief of making a decision is simply amazing – then you take action which feels even better again!).

Whether it’s a change of job, change of relationship, starting a business, getting fit and healthy, a lifestyle change or any other decision that you need to make – you need to decide once and for all.

Don’t get me wrong, it may be hard to make the decision, but it’s worth it. Once you’ve made a decision you make it work, because you put everything you have behind it. If you want help or support (from someone that has your interests at heart and can provide unbiased help & guidance) I’d be delighted to hear form you!

(p.s. if you haven’t already, another tip is to book your next holiday: so you have something to look forward to!)