11 Jan 2016

It's not just the back-to-work blues...

1:20 pm on 11 January 2016

It's your first day back at work and you have a headache. You're agitated. You can't concentrate.

Whatever you do don't just dismiss it as back-to-work-blues. What you actually have is Post Holiday Tension (PHT) and yes, it's a thing. With capital letters.

Depressed businessman

As many as 75 percent of workers may suffer from Post Holiday Tension. Photo: 123RF

A quick google and there it is, from Poland to Britain.

pluggedinresource.com said a psychologist had coined the phrase, and that a recent British survey showed only 25 percent of employees returned to work feeling refreshed.

"PHT has become more prevalent in recent years due to the increased pace of modern living and greater expectations," it said.

As well as the headache, the agitation and the lack of concentration, sufferers can be disinterested in their work and, alarmingly for their colleagues, in a bad mood.

Not that their colleagues will notice, given the aforementioned survey putting 75 percent of them in the same PHT basket.

So how do you stop yourself becoming a complete PHT basket-case?

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements advised people to pace themselves "and keep doing the things that bring you joy".

"Take advantage of the lighter evenings and arrange social activities with your family and friends so you have something to look forward to after work and at weekends. That may be enough to help you settle in and feel optimistic about the future," Ms Clements said.

Other handy hints included:

  • Creating a harmonious work environment by organising your workspace, bringing flowers to work or having photos on your desk.
  • Setting aside at least 15 minutes a day for yourself, to do something such as a walking or reading.
  • Reviewing your job, asking whether it was still fulfilling and challenging and speaking to your manager about it.
  • Getting organised by getting up earlier to avoid rushing and setting aside time to process emails.
  • Ms Clements also had some serious advice for anyone who found themselves unable to break out of the rut.

    "While it's not uncommon to feel a bit low when you first get back to work, it's not usual for this feeling to continue," she said.

    "If you do continue to feel this way for more than two weeks or you feel down and tearful for no apparent reason, please speak to someone you trust or see your GP for help."