x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Post-holiday blues: back to work, or call in one last 'sick' day?

What? Holiday season is over already? Just one more day, please, before we go back? Or maybe two?

Returning to school or work after a relaxing three-month summer holiday launches the same roller-coaster of emotions every year: excitement, anticipation, trepidation.

For most of us, a new year means new opportunities and new assignments. Towards the end of summer, children around the world are shopping for cool backpacks, colourful stationery and new uniforms. This week, as some schools reopen and others prepare to, many children are delighted about catching up with old friends, making progress by moving up a grade and returning to their usual activities. They also look forward to school because that is where they can feel, think and act independently.

Since young people spend most of their waking hours at school, parents should strive to make their children's time there both enjoyable and educational.

At this time of year, employees are also settling into new tasks, or into old ones. They are out getting new haircuts and shaves, manicures and pedicures, and buying new wardrobes, in preparation for all the hard work yet to come.

Even if the job sometimes seems mediocre or insignificant, anticipating renewed workplace life can actually excite and motivate one to look forward to it.

However, preparing to return to the routine of work or school after long holidays can cause distress, too. Trying to make so many purchases of goods and services, as well as paying school fees without breaking the bank, can be overwhelming.

This stress is increased by payroll timing. Receiving salaries 15 days early, as many in the UAE did last month because of Eid, was welcome at the time, but that money has to be enough for Eid, normal life and seasonal school and work preparations.

For some employees, the post-holiday blues can result in a dread of the routine, hoping to rather keep living the life they had during their holidays.

For students, the start of each new school year can leave some overcome with worry and anxiety. "What will my classes be like?" "What about the teachers?" "Is it going to be hard?" "Will I make new friends" "Will I be judged?"

Questions like these are in every student's mind. But don't worry, for better or worse such questions are usually answered within the first few days at school. Even if the answers appear negative, a little encouragement and reassurance from peers or parents will go a long way.

For students and adults alike, long holidays can make people feel lazy, not very enthusiastic to go back. No matter how long a holiday, people always want more. A 2011 survey done in the US for the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor, showed that more than a third of respondents struggle with feelings of melancholy following their return from holiday.

Saying goodbye to relaxation, and hello to a full email inbox and new deadlines, is never easy. So it is very common to feel the boredom of the familiar routines of previous years, with the same chores and duties. A little determination is needed, and a focus on the present and future instead of the past can be helpful in easing back into work.

So can scheduling the next holiday (which keeps you anticipating).

I have mixed feelings about this time of year. On one hand, I want to return to school and start new courses and explore my capabilities. A new term means an opportunity to challenge myself and to grow as a person. On the other hand, I still want to stay up late, sleep in, see friends who live 10,000 kilometres away and soak up summer sun. Decisions, decisions.

Have you been looking forward cheerfully to the return to work or school, and making your last-minute preparations? Or are you contemplating calling in sick to extend your holiday by a day or two?

Resuming normal life is inevitable. We should all try to make the best of this as an opportunity to improve ourselves, personally and professionally, and to make what we do into something that is really worth our time.

 

Alanood Lari is a communication and media sciences student at Zayed University Abu Dhabi