Kate Maclean, Administration Officer
Alas, if it were only so simple.
Unfortunately, no matter how sunny, long or expensive a holiday is, research consistently shows that the positive psychological effects of holidays tend to fade out completely after about three or four weeks.
So how can you ensure you tap into that buzz from the summer and keep it going until the Christmas cheer can pick up the motivation slack? You’re in luck - there is a wealth of research that to show that the following quick and cost free initiatives can have a huge impact people’s psychological well-being when they are back at work, in turn triggering greater engagement, motivation and of course, productivity.
1. Psychological detachment from the workplace is vital!!
We all love (or perhaps love to hate!) our smart phones and emails – but we do need to unplug from work. If you leave the workplace, and then spend the next six hours at home worrying about a client or that email you had to send, it becomes like you never left. Psychological detachment is associated with better work performance and proactive work behaviour, as well as improved psychological well-being. Ensure that you are discouraging staff from remaining plugged in out of hours and help yourself by setting an example.
2. Get moving!
One of the most consistent findings in research is that physical activity has wonderful psychological benefits. But the key is enjoying it. If you hate jogging, – don’t do it do something you enjoy instead. Take the dog for a walk, or perhaps kick a ball around a park. This is especially important for workaholics, who get the most benefit from physical exercise. We are not suggesting you buy an office dog, but encouraging staff to take a walk during their break can work wonders.
3. Become better at something.
Challenges or tasks that intellectually stimulate you, build your self-esteem, which allows you to be more resilient in stressful situations. This could be something as small as doing a Sudoku, or learning a new recipe.
Do something that stimulates you, but to a pretty low level. Go for a gentle walk, take a long bath or listen to some music.
5. YOU decide how you spend your time.
It is really important that no matter what you do with your leisure time, it is YOU who has decided to do it. Feeling like we are in control of our lives improves our feelings of competence, our general psychological well-being and our cardiovascular health, and feeling good out of work crosses over into how you feel at work. So try to be the boss of your weekend. If you want to take a nap – just do it!
6. Take more mini-breaks
Unfortunately, you cannot ‘store up’ the positive effects of a holiday, so it is far better for you and your employees to take many small breaks, than use most of your leave in one go.
A useful way to think about it is this – all the work you do in your organisation uses psychological resources, and unfortunately these resources are very much limited. After your day at work, these resources will be depleted. That feeling you get after where you've had a stressful day and you don’t want to talk to anyone, is the result of your psychological resources running low. The key is to allow time to restock and replenish to ensure that in the long term, this doesn't lead to burnout. Although it may take some time to reach the stage of actual depression or burnout, recovering from these conditions can sometimes take years.
So be kind to yourself, pay attention to how you and your employees are feel, and look after your mental health!!