Get Ahead

How to beat the post-holiday slump at work, according to executives

Bymuratdeniz | E+ | Getty Images

'Tis the season for the post-holiday blues. 

Switching back to work mode after a few days of sleeping in, unwrapping gifts and popping champagne can be brutal. But even though the spell of holiday magic might have worn off, you don't have to go back to work in despair. 

"The first week of the year is like a warm-up period," Laith Masarweh, the CEO and founder of Assistantly, a virtual assistant staffing company, tells CNBC Make It. "Don't put too much pressure on yourself to be 100% up-to-speed. [Just] do your best to be positive and let yourself get excited for the new year ahead."

Consider these tips from executives for a smooth return-to-work after the holidays:

Wake up earlier 

It might seem counterintuitive, but waking up a bit earlier than usual on your first day back to work after the holiday break can help you ease back into your schedule and reduce some of the anxiety you might be feeling about returning.

Masarweh recommends starting your day with a brisk walk or run outside, or a different short exercise, which will "really get your mind working and set you up for success."

If working out in the morning isn't your thing, try a five-minute meditation or deep breathing exercise to calm your mind and trigger the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones.

Set realistic expectations 

Much of the dread people feel coming back to work after the holidays can be attributed to the mountain of unread emails and pressure to "hit the ground running," says Jâlie Cohen, the head of global talent and a senior vice president at the Adecco Group, a global HR provider.

During that first week back, however, Cohen stresses you should feel empowered to set clear expectations with your manager and teammates about which responsibilities you are prioritizing and how many meetings you will realistically be able to join without burning yourself out. 

"We're just coming out of the holidays, nobody should expect you to have read every email and solved every issue that could have popped up at the end of the year," she adds. "But being proactive in communicating what you are working on and what you have the bandwidth for when you're back is helpful, because then people know exactly what to expect from you."

Make time for fun in your schedule 

As important as it is to be productive at work after taking time off around the holidays, starting a new year should still be a joyous, exciting occasion. 

"I always find that there's magic in starting a new year, even at work," André Heinz, the chief people and culture officer at software vendor Celonis, says. "I try to cultivate that joy by scheduling bonding events with my team, whether it's a dinner or happy hour, where we can talk about what's ahead of us and what we're excited about in the new year." 

Having an event on your calendar to look forward to, whether it's a coffee catch-up with an old co-worker or a team dinner, gives you "something to look forward to" and "can make it easier to come back to work," Heinz explains. 

If all else fails, listen to your gut. 

Masarweh explains: "If you realize you're truly dreading coming back to work, it might be time to consider a career shift. It's normal to be bummed out when vacation is over, but if you have absolutely no excitement about returning to work, that's a sign that this job might not be a good fit for you."

Check out:

3 morning habits to help you be happier and more productive at work, according to psychologists

Nearly half of American workers are hoping for a promotion or raise in 2023

7 CEOs on the 'innovative' and 'timely' books everyone should read this winter

Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter

How this 26-year-old earns and spends $25,000 a year just outside NYC
How this 26-year-old earns and spends $25,000 a year just outside NYC