Post-holiday depression: Is it time to look for another job?

Updated 03/02/2023
Post-holiday depression: Is it time to look for another job?

Post-holiday depression – young asian woman tired with headache sitting at computer in workplace.

Time to read : 4 Minutes

Post Holiday Depression Is It Time To Look For Another Job

After a summer spent hanging out with family and friends and, importantly, not doing the nine-to-five, it’s understandable that you might be a little slow to climb back on the work horse.

You’re not alone.

According to recent research, the vast majority of workers in Australia (87%) experience increased anxiety or stress upon returning to work. But are these just the back-to-work blues? Is it post-holiday depression or is it a sign that it’s time to move on in your career?

Key points

  • No energy, lack of sleep and an inability to concentrate on simple tasks are all signs that you are stressed about returning to work.

  • Back-to-work blues are often exacerbated by overeating, staying up late and excessive alcohol consumption.

  • Being surrounded by nature, talking to friends in-person and returning to exercise can help you get over post-holiday depression.

  • If your anxiety is more serious it might be a sign you need to change jobs.

Four signs you’re experiencing post-holiday depression

Are you feeling unusually stressed about being back at work after a few weeks off? While the post-holiday blues are often temporary, they can still affect your mental and physical health. That’s why it’s important to recognise some of the most common signs of back-to-work anxiety:

Lack of consistent sleep: Waking up every few hours or laying in bed in the middle of the night worrying about getting back to work can disrupt your sleep patterns and impact the rest of your day.

FeelingSAD: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) typically comes on during the winter months, but it can also manifest following time off work, with symptoms including feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression.

No energy: Do you usually hit the gym, go for a jog, or engage in some form of exercise every day? If you find your body and/or your mind simply can’t conjure up the energy to return to your regular routine, then it might be a sign of post-holiday depression.

Inability to concentrate: You might be familiar with the ‘Sunday Scaries’ – that feeling of dread about returning to work in the morning. It can affect your ability to concentrate on even the simplest things, such as reading a book or washing the dishes.

Be aware of contributing factors

While the back-to-work blues are completely normal, the symptoms can be exacerbated by a variety of factors. So, make sure you start easing up on your alcohol consumption, transition back to your regular eating habits, and try to go to sleep at a reasonable hour to help rediscover your work-life rhythm.

3 ways to break free of the back-to-work blues

There’s no shame in being anxious about returning to work. After all, we humans aren’t meant to be caged in an office all day long. But similarly, some of us need to work to live, so it’s important to refocus your mind and start taking positive steps to get back into a routine. Here are some ideas to help:

Get out into nature: Sure, you’ve got a pile of books you planned on reading over the holidays. And yes, there’s an entire new season of your favourite show to binge, but if you want to get out of this vicious cycle then you need to leave your house and embrace the healing power of nature! A 30-minute walk around the park every day can do wonders for your mental health.

Speak to other people: No, don’t just text or make phone calls. Organise regular catch-ups with friends and co-workers (best to do this before work resumes, but there are still benefits in doing it after). Rather than wasting your time and energy complaining about being back in the office, share all the fun things you did over the holidays and keep your spirits high.

Be accountable with exercise: It’s all well and good to promise yourself that tomorrow you’ll go for a run or hit the gym, but it’s another thing entirely to do it – especially if you’ve been a bit lax over the holidays. So why not restart your exercise regimen with a friend? You’ll be able to keep each other accountable and it won’t be such a lonely experience.

Is it time to move on?

Being sad about the holidays ending and having to return to work is completely normal, but there are clear signals when it might be something more serious. Here are some signs it could be time to move on:

  • You don’t feel appreciated by your peers or boss.

  • You feel like you are constantly watching the clock until home time.

  • You no longer believe in the company’s mission/purpose.

  • You feel negative about your job far more often than you feel positive about it.

  • You feel invisible at work.

  • Your role doesn’t match up with your career ambitions.

Bottom line: Stressing about being back at work isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. For most people, it’s just a sign that you’ve been enjoying your holidays and don’t want them to end. But if the feelings don’t pass, or if you are becoming increasingly anxious about work, it might be time to consider a career change.

Read more:

Got a financially stressed friend? Here's how you can support their mental health this Christmas

How to avoid holiday debt and not be the Grinch

The information contained on this web page is of general nature only and has been prepared without taking into consideration your objectives, needs and financial situation. You should check with a financial professional before making any decisions. Any opinions expressed within an article are those of the author and do not specifically reflect the views of Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd.