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Best Ways to Suppress the January Blues and Beat Back to Work Stress

January Blues and Stress of Going Back to Work

Except for the clever clogs who booked extra time off after Christmas and New Year by now everyone will be back to work and already worrying about all the work you have to catch up on after a nice Christmas break.

We try to avoid it but many of us will be hit by the back to work blues and could experience increased levels of stress, or even feel depressed and completely overwhelmed when returning to work. And after all many of us missed a whole week of work or more (that can be a lot to catch up with in some cases).

Below are our top tips to beat the back to work blues and help you avoid workplace stress, you can also take a look at our previous blog post about ways to reduce the risk of workplace stress.

Stay in Shape

Very fit for purpose considering most people start their annual health kick in January. Regularly exercising can help improve your mood as it releases feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins and endocannabinoids.

Some of the best exercises to improve your mood and decrease your risk of mental illnesses are running, dancing, yoga and kick boxing to name but a few. In particular like some of us at Sureteam, you could join a running club. The NHS programme Couch to 5K helps beginners which aims to get people to run their first 5k park run after 10 weeks.

It doesn’t even have to be done before or after work. Even using the stairs is a good quick cardiovascular workout and will help tone your legs. And there are a number of exercises you can even do at your desk.

Eat happy food

Yes there is no such thing as happy food, but a number of foods can help your brain by increasing motivation, concentration and mood.

These foods include: bananas, walnuts which help improve learning and memory as well as help protect against depression and mood disorders. Dark chocolate, yes if you want to treat yourself, sorry you have to avoid milk chocolate (our favourite) but dark chocolate can actually reduce stress hormone levels, perfect if you are stressed about returning to work.

Book Another Holiday

Let’s admit it we are always in a better mood if we have something to look forward to, whether it is a trip abroad or a day out somewhere nice. If you book more time off of work then you have something to look forward to and to motivate you in the meantime.

Be organised

The more panicked and unorganised you get about your work, the more stressed and worried you are going to be. There is nothing wrong in spending some time on a Monday or first thing in the morning planning out your week or day.

Set realistic goals for what you want to achieve every day and prioritise your work appropriately. This way you know what you have to achieve and when; avoiding unnecessary worry because you are so unorganised you don’t have a clue what to do next.

Work-life Balance

Are you one of those people who is so worried about getting behind with work or you need to catch up, that you are already thinking about overtime?

Yes if you need to do a reasonable amount of overtime to finish a task on time then you can’t not do it; but having a good work-life balance is key. Work-life imbalance can lead to higher stress levels, increased chance of absenteeism and lower productivity. Make sure you don’t push yourself into doing too many hours and enjoy your downtime; make the most of your friends and family, take up a regular hobby, or take up some of that mood boosting exercise we mentioned earlier.


Make your workplace, office, or desk a place you want to be. Yes you probably don’t have the authority to start painting walls or ripping up carpet, but transforming your workplace can have a massive effect on your mood.

Making your desk somewhere you enjoy sitting is going to improve your mood and make you more productive. Buy some flowers, fake ones are ideal; de-clutter at the end of the day so you come in to a tidy work space the next morning to kick start your day. And even add pictures of your family and friends which will always put a smile on your face. Anything to brighten up your workplace and brighten up your day.

Don’t be Afraid to Say No

Everyone is in the same position when they return to work, and in some cases you may get a panicky boss that is worried about all the missed time and want things done now!

Only you know what you are capable of, what you have time for and what you need to prioritise. In some cases it is a better idea to say no if someone asks you to do something rather than putting too much pressure on yourself and then failing to achieve your tasks.

Need more Advice to Help with Stress in the Workplace?

In 2015/16 there was 488,000 cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety. If you need help with stress in your workplace our team can help you will any area of occupational health including stress, ergonomic factors, working at heights, manual handling and more.

Contact us on 01666 503686 to get advice about occupational health and stress.