Eliminate back to work stress and be happy

2015-12-09 06:00


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

AS South African workers, students and learners start feeling the happy vibes of holidays that are just around the corner, many will try to just muddle through the next few days or weeks, forgetting that holidays can actually be a very stressful time.

To make the most of this festive season, and relax and unwind sufficiently to get back in the saddle with renewed energy in January 2016, there are a few small things that can be done so as not to let anxieties about returning to work or school spoil a chunk of the holiday, an expert said.

“Thoughts of returning to duty are effectively banished from one’s mind during the initial stages of leave or recess. But as the new year comes closer, many people’s minds will be jolted back to the looming reality which can detract from what should be a happy, carefree time,” said Dr Felicity Coughlan, director of The Independent Institute of Education, South Africa’s largest and most accredited private higher education institution. “Thoughts of returning to the office can cause feelings of anxiety, dread and even depression, but by taking a few small empowering actions now and during the holidays, going back can be considerably less stressful,” she said.

“As the saying goes: If you haven’t started planning for 2016, you are already behind.

“So now is the time to tie up all the loose ends and get a plan in motion that will see you enter the new year with no remnants from 2015 sapping your energy, and with a vision for growth that will excite and inspire you throughout your break,” she said.

In recent years, a UK survey among 2 500 people conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management, showed that for many people, going on holiday actually increased their stress.

Coughlan said that many South Africans would be in the same boat. The positive transition between the old year and the new, relied on two steps: closing the door on what belongs in 2015, and determining what sits behind the new door.

She said to make the most of one’s holidays, one should:


Make sure that all the jobs, tasks and projects scheduled for this year are done and dusted before you leave for the holidays.

“Make a to-do list for the remaining worktime in this year and take satisfaction in ticking off one after the next task. Clear your inbox and remember to set up an out-of-office reminder on your last day.”


Ensure that people know where to reach you in case of an emergency, but resolve to stay away from just quickly checking in at work, or spending most of your days on social media.

“Give your brain a real chance to shut off and rest. You will find that when you give your mind this kind of space, all kinds of new ideas and visions for the future will find way into the space which used to be filled with status updates and online rage.”


“Knowing that once your break is over you will be returning to another year of more of the same – and even more of the same – can be a real downer.

“For human beings to grow and become more self-actualised, each year must allow new opportunity for growth. During your time off, take stock of your direction.

“Are you doing what you love? Is there something else you would like to explore? Perhaps you can start exploring that by joining a short course or signing up for a programme? Taking a step in the direction you want to be going, however small, will put a new spring in your step.”


Whether it be starting to train for your first 5 km run, starting a blog, or learning a new language, doing something fun and constructive will immediately get you energised and inspired.

“The trick is to not while away your precious days with eating, partying and sleeping day after day. While there is certainly space for that, a confidence-building activity and a vision for the future will do much more to restore your mind and body, and help you start 2016 in the way you would like it to end – on a high note,” she said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.